Jubek Yongo-Bure calls herself "a proud product of Flint, Michigan," whose commitment to social justice and economic and community development stems from her upbringing as a first-generation South Sudanese immigrant.
Yongo-Bure earned a B.A. in sociology with a minor in community action social change from the University of Michigan. While studying there, she worked with University Housing as a diversity peer educator. She also facilitated dialogues on race, socioeconomic status, and gender with the Program on Intergroup Relations, which helped to shape her interest in social justice education. Yongo-Bure later cofounded Project F.L.I. (Flint Leadership Initiative), a leadership program that helps youth learn about the history of their city, as well as leadership skills for personal, educational, and professional success.
In 2011, Yongo-Bure served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at the Flint Farmers' Market, working as an outreach specialist for the Double Up Food Bucks Program, a part of the Fair Food Network. This healthy eating incentive program helps Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program shoppers receive extra money to purchase fresh, locally grown produce. Her experience with the Fair Food Network, coupled with knowledge of inequity in Flint, ignited her passion for improved place-based policies for health, economic, and racial justice.
While at Cornell, Yongo-Bure pursued a master's in city and regional planning with a focus on economic and community development. In addition to her studies, she was copresident of Planning Students for Diversity and she worked as a graduate assistant with the Office of Academic and Diversity Initiatives where she coordinated community development and social justice programming. In 2015, Yongo-Bure worked as a summer associate with the Greenlining Institute's Leadership Academy in Berkeley, California. At Greenlining, she worked on policy advocacy, racial justice, and increasing diversity in the tech industry. The following semester, Yongo-Bure participated in Professor Mildred Warner's economic and community development workshop, where her team facilitated focus groups with Upstate New York municipalities and compiled a report on the fiscal stress these municipalities faced.
After graduating from Cornell, Yongo-Bure returned to the Fair Food Network as coordinator for strategic outreach in Flint, where she is responsible for connecting with community members, faith-based groups, health organizations, and community organizations to raise awareness and utilization of the Fair Food Network's Double Up Food Bucks Program. Yongo-Bure wanted to begin her career by working "in the trenches of communities," and made the decision to return to Flint, a community that she was already familiar with, in order to "authentically engage with residents."
According to Yongo-Bure, Cornell's Department of City and Regional Planning prepared her to leverage engagement with multiple stakeholders. She encourages CRP students to take full advantage of Cornell's resources and to take classes on negotiation, real estate, urban economics, management, and finance.
"Community work brings forward stakeholders who have varying ideas and definitions of success. They will not always agree," she says, "therefore it is important to create innovative strategies for effective solutions."
Currently, Yongo-Bure is a communications and outreach manager for the Double Up Food Bucks Program. She engages and collaborates with various organizations by giving presentations, providing staff training, and distributing program materials. Moving forward, Yongo-Bure is committed to creating equitable infrastructure, fostering economic empowerment, and engaging in policy advocacy for underserved communities.