behind the scenes
Thrive Community Consulting is led by Jeanette Koncikowski, Ed.M. We provide consulting services to organizations including nonprofits, schools and institutions of higher education, foundations, and other groups working to change the conditions in society that harm communities. We also provide life after loss coaching to community members.
Our mission is to uplift the vital conditions for health and well-being by offering services that inspire, empower, and grow resilient and equitable communities. We do this by guiding personal and organizational development, identifying and achieving learning outcomes, and creating effective community campaigns, all related to the vital conditions for well-being.
Our approach to community health and well-being is asset-based, trauma-informed, equity-focused and takes care to integrate the personal and professional. It's whole-person and whole-community engagement. We believe communities thrive when they do not have to worry about their basic needs, when well-being can be centered, and when justice is within reach. The federal government has recently defined these vital conditions for justice and well-being. Until all communities can thrive, we continue our work with the people and organizations that reduce harm and provide hope.
What makes us stand out from other consultants is our values of radical transparency, accountability, and vulnerability along with our implementation of ADDIE. While ADDIE is used regularly as a framework for change in the world of instructional design, we have found that it has deep implications for practice in nonprofits and community organizing as well. Jeanette's background in psychology, human development, and learning science combined with lived expertise in nonprofit leadership, community organizing, trauma and post-trauma growth provides her with a unique perspective to problem-solving.
Jeanette is a community educator, organizer, and advocate. For 25 years, she's worked deeply with communities who have been affected by poverty, violence, trauma and other systemic forms of oppression. Born and raised in a working-class family in Buffalo, she witnessed, early on in her life, the disparities that kept some families surviving while others were thriving. This led her to jointly study Psychology and Women's Studies in college, earning a BA from the University at Buffalo in 2000. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to study at Harvard University where she learned with top scholars and activists, earning a Masters of Education degree in Human Development, Psychology, and Gender Studies in 2001.
Jeanette's early career was in crisis response and community mental health education. She held positions with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Advocates Community Counseling, and Crisis Services of Buffalo and Erie County. After a few years of clinical experience, she joined SUNY Buffalo State College's Center for Development of Human Services (CDHS) as an Education Specialist. Over the next 15 years, she helped to build the Center's child welfare workforce training program. During this time, Jeanette also earned a certificate in Trauma Counseling from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. When she left CDHS in 2018, she was the Senior Manager for Instructional Design and Development. Her team's curricula and e-learning programs have been used to train over 40,000 caseworkers in child protective services, foster care, and adoption across New York State.
In 2018, Jeanette became the Executive Director of Grassroots Gardens of Western New York. Over five seasons, she helped turn Grassroots into a dynamic organization that is regarded both locally and nationally as a model of community-led conservation in an urban area. Accomplishments during her tenure included growing the organization's budget and staff size by 300%, and earning Grassroots the distinction of being the country's first accredited land trust comprised solely of urban community gardens. Jeanette and the Grassroots' community also developed an innovative program on gardening through grief, pushed the City of Buffalo to consider a more equitable and comprehensive vacant lot disposition policy, and made sure the organization's practices aligned with its values of equity, healing systemic harm, and repair.
Never lacking in energy for the causes she cares about, Jeanette has volunteered extensively on health education and environmental campaigns and also worked as a consultant since 2016 with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to develop resources for bereaved families. She's also just completed her first book about the challenges of being widowed with young children and parenting through loss. Jeanette firmly believes that thriving requires external access to community resources for health and well-being. But she also sees it as an internal process about learning to stand in your power and propel your life towards your dreams. Thriving is an act of resistance to a world that says you are not enough!
Notable Writing, Speaking, and Research
Jeanette's work has been featured in The Buffalo News, Edible WNY, Bitch Magazine, Affilia: The Journal of Women and Social Work, the International Journal of People and Plants, the Widowed Parent Podcast, the Silent Why Podcast, and the Grappling with Grief blog, among others.
In recent years, she has also been a featured speaker for Breast Cancer Action's national webinar series (2016), at Camp Widow (2017, 2019, 2023), the Adult Education Research Conference (2017 and 2019), the University of California at Berkeley's Agroecology Conference (2021), the International Plants and People Conference (2021), and the Land Conservation Conference for New York State (2020 and 2021). She enjoys guest lecturing at local colleges and community organizations on a variety of health-related topics as requested.
Download Jeanette's resume here.
Download Jeanette's full CV here.