Rev. Janai S. A. Downs
Janai Downs is a proud native of Gary, Indiana, and has lived as an Indianapolis resident for nearly 24 years.
Janai has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2005 when she joined the staff of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis. In her twelve-plus years with the Y, Janai served at the program office and on the staff team that built the Avondale Meadows Y as a part of community development on the east side of Indianapolis.
Janai served in full-time ministry on staff at Eastern Star Church for four and a half years in various capacities from evangelism and membership to discipleship and Church Ministry leadership, responsible for creating the member experience, welcoming guests, acclimating new members, and nurturing souls through discipleship classes across generations. She also provided oversight to the ROCK Fresh Market, ROCK Urban Farm, and more than 20 ministries.
Janai currently serves on the Leadership Team of Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Ministry. She is a Certified Diversity Executive and a cross-functional advisor, partnering with employees and leadership across the agency to lead a holistic effort to cultivate a more diverse workforce and ensure a more inclusive culture while promoting the ministry.
Janai’s commitment to the ministry of service and DE&I efforts is further demonstrated by her work in the community. She is a 21-year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. initiated in Chi Chapter at Butler University. She has served the Indianapolis Alumnae Chapter as Corresponding Secretary, Second Vice President, and Membership Chair, a member of the Chaplain’s Council, Social Action Committee, and many other committees. She served 3 terms as a City Council appointee to the Equal Opportunity Advisory Board with Marion County, an executive board member of the Black Alumni Association at Butler University, a Founding Member of the African American Legacy Fund, a member of the Justice Resource Advisory Council with Christian Theological Seminary, and Chaplain and member of the Chaplaincy Board for the Indianapolis Airport Authority. In addition, Janai has journeyed on seven mission trips domestically, in Jamaica, and in Mexico; leading Bible Studies, building houses and churches, and beautifying camps and orphanages.
Janai is a graduate of Butler University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and had two minors; Religious Studies and Political Science. She graduated summa cum laude from Christian Theological Seminary where she earned her Master of Divinity degree and was a scholar in The Discipleship Project and earned the Biblical Studies Award. Janai is licensed and ordained under the direction and mentorship of Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr., Senior Pastor of Eastern Star Church, where she is a long-time member.
In her spare time, Janai enjoys teaching, singing, traveling, dancing, performing stand-up comedy, and quality time with friends and family.
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