Associate Vice President, Community Relations and Philanthropy
Limited Brands Inc.
Coping with severe childhood eczema helped Janelle N. Simmons to develop crucial skills. “It taught me how to make people feel comfortable by using my personality and sometimes humor so it distracted them from my face. I believe this experience helped me sharpen my interpersonal skills and taught me to use my personality as a tool, which has helped me along the way,” says Simmons. Associate vice president for community relations and philanthropy at Limited Brands Inc., Simmons began her career with the company in 1993 as an intern, while studying journalism at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She returned to the company in 2007. In addition to her journalism degree, she has a certificate in community involvement from Boston College and she is a graduate of the inaugural class of the African-American Leadership Academy, a program of The Academy of Leadership and Governance.
Simmons believes, as children’s activist Marian Wright Edelman does, that “service is the rent we pay for living.” Her service includes chairing the board chair of I Know I Can, a college access program for Columbus City Schools students. “I am passionate about ensuring that all students have access to higher education regardless of their socio-economic status. I was able to attend college because of financial aid, scholarships and having the opportunity to work while in school. I was able to connect the dots around how to secure financial resources … but not everyone knows where to begin or where to find the resources,” she declares. Simmons also serves on the boards of the YWCA Columbus, African American Leaderships Academy and the Columbus City Schools Education Foundation. She states, “I serve on these boards to help make a difference in the lives of women, girls, young African-American professionals and students in the Columbus City schools district.”
Favorite author: Walter Mosley
Favorite singer: Maxwell
First job: Library page