Q&A with Jeena Siela

Meet Jeena Siela

Jeena is the new community leadership officer at Hamilton County Community Foundation. In this role, she manages a portfolio of activities in the grantmaking and community process, uplifting the community leadership initiatives in Hamilton County.

What excites you about your new role?
I’m incredibly excited to be in a position where I can make impactful investments in my own community. I live in Fishers, love this community that I get to call home, and I’m passionate about making our community a better place to live, work and play. I’m thrilled to serve as a liaison between not-for-profit organizations, the community and the foundation’s board and advise on Hamilton County grantmaking and community issues. I’m eager to connect with all those working to achieve our shared mission and vision in Hamilton County and strategically align the foundation to profoundly address mental health, family and youth empowerment and inclusive economic growth in our community. 

 In this past year, what book, movie or album resonated with you in the strongest way and why?
I read the book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance a few years ago, so I was very excited to see that Netflix had created a film in 2020 based off of Vance’s book. He writes about the social isolation, poverty, drug use and the religious and political changes in his family and in greater Appalachia. The term ‘hillbilly’ is often used as a pejorative expression and yet to J.D. and his family, it’s a term of endearment and expression towards their way of life. A life where poverty is the family tradition and upward mobility isn’t possible due to decades of systematic oppression. Throughout the entire book/movie, Vance reflects on the price of the American dream and the legacy of trauma and poverty.  There is this broader context woven throughout the entire book/movie of social, economic and political shifts which I feel pertain to our community as a whole—and even greater as a nation. To quote our shared mission at CICF, there are so many systems in place in our country that prevent individuals from having equitable opportunity to reach their full potential—because of their place, race or identity. I believe that’s why this has resonated with me so much and why I’m grateful for the opportunity to now help build a community where opportunity meets growth for everyone. 

 What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?
In our society, there’s this mentality that mothers are superheroes that do it all and put everyone else’s needs above their own. This is especially true for working mothers. As the mother of two young children, I’m realizing how important self-care is in order for me to be the best version of myself. Self-care is not selfish; it’s one of the best things you can do for your family.  By paying attention to my own needs, I know that I’ll be better at meeting everyone else’s. So I’m learning how to prioritize myself and finding restorative ways to take care of my own needs. 

 What’s your favorite way to unwind after a busy day? 
My immediate way to unwind after a busy day is through food. I love to cook for my family, and I find that I can easily unwind while cooking dinner, listening to music, drinking some good red wine, and pouring love into the meal I’m preparing. I also love how our family comes together over dinner to discuss our days. It’s our time to handle the stresses of daily life while reflecting on our many blessings. My daughter is starting to become interested in helping in the kitchen, which is a lot of fun and I’m excited to share my passion for cooking and baking with her. Once we’ve got the kids down for bed, I love to unwind with a good book. I have a Goodreads goal of reading 20 books this year, and I’m about a quarter of the way through my list! 

What’s your most recent act of equity?
I’ve been working in the equity space for a few years now. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and reading books on how to be a better ally in this space. However, one thing I hadn’t yet personally done was go through formal anti-racism training. So my most recent act of equity is signing up for the May Interrupting Racism training through Child Advocates. I’m so encouraged to have the opportunity to participate in this training, which I hope provides me with even more tools and resources to align with our shared mission of dismantling systemic racism. 

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