Jessica Fumo Wins Volunteer of the Year
Visionworks of America’s rising star was honored for her work on ConnexFM’s Women In Action Committee.
In April, ConnexFM’s National Conference saw a familiar face onstage when Jessica Fumo was selected as 2022’s Volunteer of the Year. Fumo, Senior Manager of Store Facilities and Special Projects at Visionworks of America, had previously been recognized by her peers at ConnexFM in 2019 when she was named Young Professional of the Year. It was at that conference that she was approached to Co-chair a new ConnexFM initiative called Women In Action (WIA), which was to support the advancement of women in the facilities management industry.
“It was such an exciting opportunity,” Fumo recalled. “We had the ability to really start from the ground up and make it everything we wanted it to be.” Plans were laid out for a number of initiatives, including professional development, networking and a “give-back” committee. Unfortunately, much of the committee’s plans were halted with the arrival of COVID-19 in early 2020.
The pandemic forced the WIA team to be nimble, adapting quickly to changing circumstances. “The last thing we wanted was to stop the momentum that we’d created,” Fumo said. So in lieu of the initiatives they had planned, they decided to host monthly virtual happy hours for supporters of WIA’s vision. What began as a forum for socializing quickly transformed into something much deeper, as the members connected over their shared passion for empowerment in the workplace. The call was renamed Empower Hour, and its membership grew steadily.
Behind the scenes, Fumo and her co-chair worked tirelessly to be ready when the world opened again. “We kept asking ourselves: What more can we do? How can we further help women?” she said. By the time the 2021 National Conference rolled around, WIA had 180 attendees at their networking event, during which they were able to award six grants to women seeking their ProFM credential. At the 2022 National Conference, only nine months later, those numbers doubled, with over 370 attendees and ten ProFM grants awarded.
“People were sitting on the floor because there wasn’t enough space in the room,” Fumo said. “I couldn’t believe it … it was an amazing feeling.”
Though Fumo’s term with WIA ends this year, she is eager to continue her volunteer work within ConnexFM. “When you’re doing something you're so passionate about, you don’t think of it as work,” she said. “It has been a wonderful couple of years for me.”