JLUSA leader Patrice Palmer gets profiled—in the best possible way

December 11, 2023

Patrice Palmer (Leading with Conviction™ 2015) was profiled recently in The Ohio State University alumni magazine:

“A licensed social worker and social justice advocate in Columbus, Palmer helps people stop cycling through the criminal justice system and instead build personal and professional success. For her exceptional work, in 2022, the world’s largest membership organization for professional social workers named her National Social Worker of the Year. This year, she was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement.

“On this October afternoon, Palmer is teaching for Alvis, a nonprofit agency that helps those who’ve been imprisoned reenter society. Her class is part of the mayor’s EDGE (Empower Development by Gaining Employment) Program, an intensive five-month course giving people tools to overcome challenges post-incarceration.

In a weeklong class that is part of the mayor’s EDGE (Empower Development by Gaining Employment) Program, Patrice Palmer teaches people to succeed after prison by finding their authentic selves. (Photo: Jodi Miller)

If you don’t love yourself,
you won’t change.

“Twice a year, Palmer leads one-week cohorts, sharing her own experience and expertise. She says it’s about ‘helping people to remember their past, embrace their present and envision their future.’

“This class is one commitment in a jam-packed schedule that follows a particularly trying year: Palmer broke her wrist and battled COVID-19, then dealt with ensuing depression. But today, it seems like she hasn’t lost a step.

“Palmer commands the room with charisma and raw authenticity. Her face is expressive, her voice electric. Under buzzing fluorescent lights, she speaks without a script — asking questions, absorbing people’s answers and riffing off them, constantly in motion even though she’s seated.

“‘You got to commit,’ Palmer tells her students. ‘Accountability. Determination. It all starts with self-care, self-love. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t change. If you don’t feel worthy, whatcha gonna do?’

Bam! She slaps her palms together.


“Palmer has walked this path herself. Former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who invited Palmer to be his guest at the 2020 State of the Union address, calls her ‘a shining example, a living embodiment that recovery is possible.’

“‘I have a criminal record longer than Cleveland Avenue,’ Palmer tells the class. ‘I was Bonnie and Clyde all by myself. But since then, I’ve been to the White House. I spoke to congressional staff. I have two degrees from The Ohio State University.’”

Read the full story at OSU.edu.

(Photos above: Jodi Miller / The Ohio State University)

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