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Our Story

We are a collective of like-minded parents and caregivers interested in creating space to share resources, ideas and support. The passion for centering marginalized, and in particular youth experiences, stems from the lived experiences of all the More Joy Parenting (MJP) team members. 

The intellectual and creative work to formally create MJP began in early 2019 with a seed of an idea, and the website launched on December 1, 2020. But in many ways, MJP is a culmination of personal and professional work that has been lifelong for most of us. There is a synchronicity of minds, professional experience and shared narrative that creates the heartbeat for this work.

In early 2019, Marcella participated in a volunteer service opportunity as a faculty member for aspiring Vice Presidents; hosted by her student affairs professional association, NASPA, she realized she had learned quite a bit about parenting and executive level leadership, particularly as it relates to integrating all aspects of our lives. She presented on the topics of work life balance, authentic leadership and institutional fit, and got really excited about how she might be able to contribute to this conversation in a modest, but creative and sustained way, with a social justice lens. And from there, the vision and the team started to take shape.


Dr. Marcella Runell Hall

For Marcella & Michelle, in their various roles as college administrators, this is especially salient, as they support students’ holistic well-being in their student affairs work, but also want to create pathways to support the parents and other caregivers who are balancing the wellbeing and care of so many, especially right now. 


Annaliese Kittrell

”Much like children, as parents there is great stability in finding “your” community. Finding your community doesn’t mean that you have to look the same, think the same, or parent the same, it means that rooted in our soil are the same values! The values root us together, and if you are blessed enough, you find yourself growing in the most beautiful ways.You learn from each other, champion each other, push each other, and most of all love each other. The blooms aren’t all the same, the seasons are all different, but the life you find will be rooted in the sunshine and joy that is your community. The women of MJP are my community!”

-Annaliese (MJP Team Member)

”My relationship to this work is affirmed by the spirit and consciousness of a people who, by rooting themselves in joy, have sustained their resilience and preserved their humanity. Anchoring oneself in practices that evoke joy strengthens the fiber of family and community as it nurtures an environment characterized by emotional vulnerability, creativity, compassion, high vibration and healing. In caring for young people, being promoted to serve as guidance and support as they develop into themselves, we are tasked with operating with a particular awareness and intentionality about how we choose to model, reflect, and inform. It is essential that we develop the means and the tools to continuously evaluate if who we are being and how we are evolving (individually and communally) is conducive to a just, loving, and joyful humanity.”

-Eden (MJP Team Member)


Eden Jeffries

Marcella imagined creating a collective of like-minded people who were redefining parenting and caregiving and sharing resources, stories and support. So in October of 2019, she registered for the domain name It took a full year to establish what the contribution might look like in consultation with the MJP team. There were so many difficult moments in 2020, including pandemic parenting amidst grief, loss and fear, remote schooling of our young children during extreme crisis management, and a national racial reckoning. Each of these poignant moments made the mission of MJP --to write and think about and eventually engage publicly about these topics-- all the more urgent.


Nicki Henry

“Each day we are granted an opportunity to make a difference. This is a choice we are given and it is up to each one of us to decide how we are going to show up, not only for ourselves, but also for our community. I wholeheartedly believe in choosing happiness and using joy as a fundamental principle in all that I do when I show up. Motivating others, being a Mama, and coaching are the things that bring me the most fulfillment. Finding a team of powerful, motivated, smart and successful women to share this with has been the gift of being on the MJP team.  We learn from each other, inspire each other, and take away so much that we can put into practice in our own lives.”


-Nicki (MJP Team Member)

Marcella’s doctorate is in social justice education which she completed one week after her eldest daughter turned one (in 2010). Much of her work, similar to Dr. Keisha Green, who also completed her doctorate in 2010 in language, literacy, and culture, has been centered on critical and engaged pedagogy, specifically related to how youth engage across different identities and political ideologies. Dr. Green is a scholar mama raising an infant and preschooler while navigating tenure and promotion in her current role as a justice-oriented teacher educator. They both understood that their academic and personal commitments were integrated and they wanted to share lessons learned in the process. 

“I find tremendous joy and fulfillment from the moments when I am living and working in my purpose, and I enjoy it equally when I have the opportunity to witness others doing the same. Each of us has been uniquely designed with particular gifts and talents that only we can offer the world. Because of all the noise around us, sometimes we need a little help identifying just what our gifts are and how to share them. This is what More Joy Parenting is all about -- providing the resources and creating the conditions for parents, caregivers, and young people to thrive and experience the joy that comes from experiencing purposeful alignment in their lives.”

- Keisha (MJP Team Member)


Dr. Keisha L. Green


Michelle Van-Ess Grant

“Working with Marcella and the team has grounded my new title as “mommy”, but has also cemented my combined role as an educator, scholar and coach. For over a decade my student affairs work focused so much on my students and their development--  now I have the opportunity to have both those worlds intersect in a way that is intentional and personal.”

-Michelle (MJP Team Member)

At MJP we all take our time and choice management VERY seriously and we believe it incumbent upon all of us to show up and participate in our respective communities in ways that can make an impact. For that reason, MJP is set up using a social entrepreneurship model so that we are able to offer free resources and opportunities for both pro bono and sliding scale workshops and coaching. We want to sustain the work, and it gives us great joy to spend a relatively small amount of our personal time contributing in this way. We are also mindful of our professional commitments with our respective institutions and we take that very seriously as we all wear many hats in our communities (because there is so much work to be done!).


If you have questions, please ask! We love dialogue.

It is a hallmark of our MJP practice and pedagogy.

Learn more about Our Story
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