Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Brenda Marie Johnson-Manuel, event coordinator and event manager for the Mississippi e-Center at Jackson State University, has served with the organization since Sept. 17, 2007, when she joined the center as a receptionist. She became the e-Center's event coordinator in 2012 and then event manager in 2014.
The Mississippi e-Center promotes entrepreneurship in Mississippi through services like the research center, business support services, a learning center, a computer lounge and more. As event coordinator, Johnson-Manuel acts as the secretary for the e-Center's executive director and is in charge of booking events at the center and maintaining the e-Center's events calendar.
Born and raised in Jackson, Johnson-Manuel graduated from Provine High School in 1982 and enrolled at the Career Development Center in Jackson, which provides training and certifications for students and adults looking to pursue specific careers. She entered a program for intensive office training, which covers the use of office machines, software, secretarial duties, and writing and grammar skills for office work—the program later that year.
"I decided to study clerical work because growing up I always thought that being in an office behind a desk would be great," Johnson-Manuel says. "I liked the idea of dressing up and meeting all kinds of different people, and I remember loving to see receptionists who were cheerful and happy greeting people and being the face of a business."
Shortly after finishing her training at the CDC, Johnson-Manuel married her husband, David Manuel III. Their oldest son, David Manuel Jr., was born in 1983, and their second son, Joshua, was born in 1988. Their daughter, Catherine, was born in 1992, and the couple raised their godson Juan Hill Jr., born in 2002.
Johnson- Manuel applied to work at the Mississippi e-Center in 2007 after all but Juan had entered college. Her best friend Jacqueline McGee learned from her husband, Greg, who worked there as an engineer, that the center was looking for clerical workers.
In addition to her duties with the e-Center, Johnson-Manuel works with the youth ministry at Cynthia Church of Christ's (Holiness) USA in Jackson, where she oversees clothing drives and school supply giveaways. "I'm a people person and love listening to people's stories and learning about their situations," Johnson-Manuel says. "I want to be the kind of person who changes both the local scene and people's attitudes into something positive."
Johnson-Manuel and her husband have four grandchildren: Ashara, Omeices, Jasmine Marie and Kaci Marie.