Dot woman tapped as leader by Oprah's magazine
October 30, 2008

By Kristina Haynes
Special to the Reporter

Twenty-seven year old Jeanne Dasaro is one of 80 clever winners from the O-White House Leadership Project Contest. Dubbed "Women Rule," the competition is sponsored and promoted by Oprah Winfrey's magazine, O. The Dorchester woman was picked last spring from a pool of more than 3,000 women, each with wonderful ideas about non-profit organizations and dreams they had to benefit others.  

Dasaro is one of the three cofounders of a Dorchester-based non-profit organization called The New Prosperity Initiative. Along with Alexis Schroeder and Ed Gazarian, Dasaro hopes to create "a network providing comprehensive support services to people struggling with poverty." They have gathered together community members and activists to consider how they can improve the community.

The organization has been in operation for approximately a year. The Codman Square Health Center donated office space to the organization and took care of other costs. They have also had printing and consulting services donated to them from various members of the community.

Nevertheless, they continuously struggle with funding, says Dasaro.

"Sometimes I go to get articles printed but then I realize there is not enough money to do so," Dasaro explained in an interview this week with the Reporter.

Dasaro spent her early childhood years living in Detroit, where she and her family stayed until she was 23. During those years, her family was relatively poor compared to most of her peers at school. This paved the way for them to constantly tease her and ask her questions about her family's struggles. In the process of furthering her education, Dasaro later attended the University of Michigan where she studied Anthropology and Economics. She and her family later moved to Philadelphia for a few years before moving to Boston four years ago. Dasaro said this is where her father's family originated.

Dasaro, along with the other cofounders of the organization, all volunteer their time to the effort. In order to sustain personal financial obligations, she maintains a day-time job as an event planner.

A typical day in her life starts the day off at 6 a.m. with yoga. Then she walks her Dachshund named Chauncey before leaving for her nine to five job. On return home, the public relations role of the organization must begin. This includes going through emails, reviewing interviews and transcribing interviews.

As part of the O magazine competition, Dasaro and the other chosen women attended a three-day leadership training program last June at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel in New York City in order to 'fine tune' their ideas.

"I was very impressed to be surrounded by so many successful women. That was really amazing and I made some connections with some women who could keep me in check." Dasaro said, "They went through what I am going through, so they show me different steps for planning different situations and point out different tools to use when going through a particular obstacle."

You can read about Dasaro's experience in the November issue of O. She is also featured online at oprah.com/omagextras. 

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