Building a Better Future

Johneva McCoy

UROC Office Manager Johneva McCoy on how UROC and Hired helped her go from hair stylist to owning her own business

Johneva McCoy graduated from high school, earned her cosmetology license at the Aveda Institute of Minneapolis, and had been working as a cosmetologist for several years when she made up her mind to push for more.

A single mom after getting pregnant in high school, McCoy often found herself styling clients’ hair and listening to them talk about their jobs with paid time off, health benefits, and 401(k) plans. Inspired, she realized she wanted those things too and that’s when she heard about Hired, a non-profit organization that offers youth services, as well as career training for low-income job seekers.

“Hired does a lot for people in the community, and they suggested I take a nine-week administrative specialist course that would prepare me for an office job,” recalls McCoy, who with financial support from her church was able to take time off to successfully complete the training and get a job at UROC in 2018.

“I had applied for office jobs before I took the Hired course, but even though I was professional and had good customer service skills, I always got turned down because my only experience was hair stylist or beauty advisor,” McCoy explains. Hired helped change that because, in addition to training, they helped her redo her resume for office administration and practiced doing mock interviews, as well as job shadowing.  

As soon as she walked in the door at UROC, McCoy knew she wanted to work there. “I remember immediately thinking ‘this place is awesome, and there’s such a good vibe,’” she says, explaining that she started out as an evening administrative specialist before being promoted to the daytime position three months later.

Not long after that she was promoted again, this time to front desk supervisor, as well as assistant to UROC Executive Director Makeda Zulu during the Covid shutdown.

Then, in the summer of 2021, McCoy was tapped to be UROC’s office manager. In addition to being a part of UROC’s Leadership Team, supporting University research, outreach, and community-engaged initiatives, she manages all aspects of UROC’s 22,500 square foot building, including room reservations and the UROC Gallery.

McCoy also helps with all aspects of hiring and onboarding staff, and is responsible for supervising the front desk administrative specialist team at UROC, a popular community gathering space near the corner of Plymouth and Penn in North Minneapolis.

By all accounts, McCoy’s efforts to gain skills and a solid career path have been successful. So much so that she was recently asked to testify about her experience ( on Hired’s behalf before the Minnesota State Senate Jobs and Economic Development Committee.

“Hired helped me feel very confident in my skill level, and the leadership team at UROC has been really supportive,” she says. “The have pushed me when I’ve struggled and helped me get classes and training that I needed. I couldn’t have done it alone, and I’m grateful to have a great team of people to work with.”

McCoy has also seen firsthand how UROC gives back to the community, and with some training from the state on how to start a business, she’s now ready to do that too. Her new salon, A Brilliant Beginning, provides services to people who have been recently released from treatment centers or prison facilities, as well as mothers going through custody battles in court or similar situations.

Salon services are provided for free and covered by the referring program that is helping people get back on their feet. “People can choose two services, like a cut and color,” McCoy explains. “Life is hard and it’s great to see the smile on people’s faces when they feel better about themselves and have more confidence. I feel good knowing that I am able to contribute to their happiness and I remember thinking that I hoped I could make it one day and I did.

I want to share that story and feeling with other people so they know they can do it too,” she continues. “And I want to give special thanks to my daughter, Janicea, and my husband, Jarvais, for believing in me and supporting my dream.”