Rainbow Village Augments Family Services with Three New Staff Members

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Having ended its capital campaign and fulfilled its plan to add five apartment buildings and a community center to its 2.5-acre campus in the heart of Duluth in 2017, Rainbow Village has had to redefine the concept of growth in recent years. Its newest signs of fresh growth include the addition of three new staff members to better serve families who recently contended with homelessness, poverty or domestic violence. The Gwinnett County-based nonprofit is proud to announce the recent enhancement of its team with Suzzette Miller-Blackmon joining Rainbow Village as Family Engagement Coordinator and Crystal Johnson and Janelle Lawson serving as Success Coaches.

“In addition to working to maintain our campus, we’ve turned our focus to improving the quality of service we provide to the families we serve,” said Melanie Conner, CEO of Rainbow Village. “Above and beyond giving our families the tools they need to succeed; we want to give them more of a voice and the affirmation that they’re being heard. Our new success coaches – Janelle and Crystal – will do that for them. Their relationships with Rainbow Village families will be special and empowering. They will help the families we serve build smart and attainable goals, while holding them accountable to see them through and celebrate the little victories with them all along the way. Instead of ‘you can’t do that,’ Janelle and Crystal will tell them ‘yes you can, and this is how.’”

Crystal Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from San Francisco State University and a Patient Advocate Certification from the University of California Los Angeles.  Johnson has worked in the field of direct services for many years and has a vast array of experience in Case Management Services. She has served Tri-City Health Care and Community Violence Solutions in California, as well as AID Atlanta and Lost-N-Found Youth Center in Atlanta. Johnson understands the importance of giving compassionate and honest feedback to families while empowering them with the necessary tools to be successful and self-sufficient. 

Janelle Lawson holds a Master of Science degree in Post-Secondary Education from Troy University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies from Mississippi University for Women.  Lawson has over fourteen years of experience in the human services field. After completing college, she started working in the social service arena as a Social Worker for various Head Start centers in Jackson, Mississippi.  She relocated to Georgia in 2008 and has since worked with a variety of populations ranging from Veterans under the SSVF program to homeless families in transitional housing programs.  Lawson is an enthusiastic problem solver who loves to help families find their independence again.

“Endeavoring to serve the WHOLE family, we use a multi-generational approach in just about everything we do at Rainbow Village,” added Conner. “Our new Family Engagement Coordinator, Suzzette Miller-Blackmon, will work closely with the After-School Program and not just with the children, but also with the parents to make sure they are engaged with their child’s educational-social performance and ultimate success. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day to day demands of life. Suzzette will help the parents take a beat and really SEE what their child is doing, what their interests are, and how to help them achieve their dreams. To support that effort, she will develop and implement family engagement events and activities, as well as manage family communications, including newsletters and social media, to keep everyone connected.”

Suzzette Miller-Blackmon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science/Educational Studies from SUNY Empire State College.  She also holds an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University.  Miller-Blackmon worked for five years as a Program Director for Five Towns Head Start Program in New York.  Here in Georgia, she had a three-year tenure as a Curriculum Director at Apostles Learning Center in Sandy Springs and operated her own Educational Consulting business, Fresh Start Services, out of Lawrenceville for 10 years.  A team player and caring leader, her teaching philosophy embraces the total child with an emphasis on parent engagement.