Bank Street School for Children '84
When I started my own family and I was required to make critical decisions on how to support our family’s diversity, I realized that my experiences at Bank Street as a small child had taught me to have the mental dexterity and flexibility that would serve me as a parent.
Jodie Patterson is a mother of five children who has shown the world how to be successful as a working parent. She co-founded and co-owns Joe’s Pub, an independent non-profit music and performance space and one of New York City’s iconic venues. She has also founded two beauty companies, written two books, Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope and The Bold World: A Memoir of a Family and Transformation, and has also been honored for her achievements, including being named “Beauty Skin Expert of the Year” by Cosmopolitan magazine.
When her three-year-old said, “Mama I’m not a girl. I’m a boy,” Jodie understood that she needed to learn more and she absorbed as much as she could about raising a transgender child, seeking ways to acknowledge her child’s spirit while managing all of the aspects of raising a young family as a working parent.
Jodie said, “When I realized I was raising a trans child and knew nothing about what that meant, I took a Malcolm Gladwell approach and devoted 10,000 hours to becoming an expert in the field. I now understand the importance of gender diversity and I’m making a difference in the discourse.”
Today, while she’s raising her family in Brooklyn, Jodie acknowledges that her own educational journey began early on when she attended the Bank Street Family Center and the School for Children, where she established her foundational skills as a lifelong learner. She went on to attend Hunter College High School and then attended the historically Black women’s liberal arts institution, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
When I started my own family and I was required to make critical decisions on how to support our family’s diversity, I realized that my experiences at Bank Street as a small child had taught me to have the mental dexterity and flexibility that would serve me as a parent,” Jodie said. “ I have done many things: writer, activist, athlete, entrepreneur. But the word that best describes me is ‘mother.’ Why? Because it gets the job done. Mothers are builders. I build people, ideas and communities.”
As a working mother, Jodie has become an outspoken and highly recognized advocate for her support of the LGBTQ+ community. After her Tedx Talk, “Gender is Obsolete,” she was named the “#1 Most Influential Mom” by Family Circle magazine. Jodie then became the first black person to become a board chair of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest LGBT organization, and she was appointed to the United Nations as a Champion of Change.
Jodie said, “Being an ally is so important. It’s critical to support diversity in all forms because it’s an integral component to success. Diverse teams are smarter, more flexible, and sustainable. We have to actively support the rights of those most marginalized even if we aren’t a member of that specific group simply because what they know and do makes us better.”
Along with the work Jodie does with the Human Rights Campaign, she sits on the board of directors for the Malcolm X Shabazz Center, Mount Sinai’s Institute for Health Equity Research Task Force, and Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery Advisory Board. She is also on the advisory board of the Ackerman Institute’s Gender and Family Project. Along with all of these roles, Jodie still finds time to give back to Bank Street. In 2024, she will be a class delegate for the Class of 1984 at their 40-year reunion during Alumni Weekend in May.