Meet New JP Las Vegas Executive Director Maria Tucker, Ph.D.
Dr. Maria Tucker, the first-ever leader of JP Las Vegas, helps lead a critical discussion about generational poverty and prioritizes relationships in the campus’s first community event.
When Dr. Maria Tucker joined Jeremiah Program in September 2022 as our first-ever executive director for the new Las Vegas campus, she immediately hit the ground running. At the nearby Acelero Learning center, one of JP’s community partners, she literally met moms where they were and showed up in the parking lot with doughnuts and coffee to help build relationships with potential JP moms.
Fast forward to January 7, 2023, when new JP moms, community leaders, Acelero partners, and other community members joined Dr. Tucker and JP President and CEO Chastity Lord at Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada for breakfast and a conversation about shifting the written and unwritten rules around poverty. Hosted by Gard Jameson, Ph.D., a community leader in Las Vegas and now the first chair of the campus’s community board of trustees, the event was all about coming together as a community.
And it was clear that Dr. Tucker’s early relationship-building had paid off.
Who’s in the Room Matters
Not only has JP Las Vegas welcomed its second cohort of moms — starting with JP’s 12-week Empowerment and Leadership course — but also the community has encircled the campus with support.
Upon welcoming everyone to the January community breakfast and discussion, Dr. Tucker said she was excited “to think about who’s going to be in the room and what we can do together, the power in the room, the community in the room, the love in the room, the generosity that’s in the room.”
Dr. Tucker has spent the last 25 years partnering with community-based organizations, colleges, universities, and government entities developing programs in the fields of education, youth development, environmental justice, immigration, and community health.
And she can directly relate to the experiences of JP moms.
JP Las Vegas Family Services Director Brittany Mann leads JP moms and other attendees in a reflection and vision board event the evening of January 7.
Photos by Maria Tucker and Alicia Mejia
“As a single mom and first-generation college graduate myself, I have lived the JP experience,” Dr. Tucker said. “Supportive networks and connections matter, and I was lucky enough to have a group of people who believed in me and my success early on, and that greatly benefited my son as well.”
That’s why the conversation among JP moms, partners, and other community members was so special. They discussed topics like why JP focuses on single mothers and the research-backed approach to early childhood education in our Child Development Centers.
That evening, Dr. Tucker and Family Services Director Brittany Mann hosted a reflection and vision board activity, during which more than 20 moms, Lord, and friends of JP shared their goals for the year. “It was an opportunity for us to get to know each other better,” Dr. Tucker shared, “and lay a strong foundation for the community of moms in Vegas.”
It All Comes Back to Community
Relationship-building has been key to JP Las Vegas’s early success, and Dr. Tucker closed the day with excitement to continue nurturing those relationships. “I am open to you to meet with you to follow up and to continue building the relationships that we started with many of you in the room,” she said. “I look forward to it.”
Dr. Jameson noted that the mission of Volunteers in Medicine is similar to JP’s: “May we reach out and touch the underserved with love, and in the process, we will heal ourselves,” he paraphrased. “That’s how community works.”
Dr. Tucker wrapped the event with a preview of another JP Las Vegas community gathering: On September 8, the campus will host its first Voices Rising event at the Las Vegas Country Club. It will be a key opportunity to recognize not only local change-makers but also to honor and celebrate the stories of JP moms, who daily create solutions for their families that can, in turn, benefit the entire community.