- Tannisha Fuentes dreamed of creating work opportunities for marginalized York residents that provided a path to fulfillment and growth.
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Her childhood sown in York, uprooted to Puerto Rico for middle school, then transplanted back to York for high school, Tannisha Fuentes knows life as an outsider.
That cross-cultural experience gave her eyes to see marginalized populations—those around her who seemed disconnected from resources.
It eventually led her to starting her own employment agency, Your Kingdom Workforce Services. And looking back, she’s grateful for everything on her path that led her to where she is today.
“That’s why I have this passion that I have,” she says. “That’s why I’m so motivated and dedicated.”
She began her career in the nonprofit sector, but reality didn’t quite measure up to her initial vision.
As Tannisha served single moms at a transitional housing organization, connecting them with resources that would help them break free from the cycle of poverty, she found herself entrenched in a similar situation.
She didn’t know how she would make ends meet.
Tannisha realized that if this was a struggle for her, it must also be for those in even more marginalized situations.
Wanting to make a difference but frustrated by her own circumstances, Tannisha decided to study social work; she began her educational journey at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC).
As a college student who was also receiving public assistance, Tannisha was placed in a program where she received additional support. Her academic and career advisors and the dean of student affairs noticed her potential and drive.
HACC hired her on as an administrative assistant, which she continued doing at Millersville University while finishing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Armed with a bachelor’s in social work and a master’s in adult education, Tannisha began working for HACC as an academic and career advisor. She dreamed of making a lasting difference in the lives of her York community while finding fulfillment.
“I just became fascinated with helping individuals through that journey of identifying their passion, their strength, their skillset,” she says.
She wanted her clients to have jobs where they felt fulfilled and could advance while earning a livable wage.
But Tannisha soon noticed a phenomenon with her higher education clients. Some individuals, often from minority populations, couldn’t seem to find their way.
They would start out strong, excited to connect with a meaningful career. Somewhere along the way, though, they would hit a wall.
She and the team at HACC focused a lot of time and research into helping solve the problem, but time and again, she watched certain clients struggle to tap into resources and opportunities.
“We would lose them,” she says.
Finding her way
While working as a director of workforce development within a community organization, a new vision began to take root. As the pandemic forced her to an isolated home office and images of those taking the brunt of pandemic and race-related struggles began filling her newsfeed, Tannisha’s passion felt like it would explode.
“It became evident how marginalized populations were that much further behind in everything from the race situation to housing to jobs,” she says. “I could not just sit around and complain. What could I do to be part of the solution?”
In 2020, she quit her job to form Your Kingdom Workforce Services. Her mission is to connect marginalized populations with companies looking to diversify; that not only pay well but also offer their employees pathways to career advancement.
“When you tap into certain populations,” Tannisha says, “you have folks that have grit, that have determination, that have untapped potential and creativity, that have been through some tough times and that will really be great employees and will go through that journey with you as a company.”
She works closely with her clients to help them line up the resources that will make their jobs possible: childcare, transportation, avenues for training, struggles with sketchy work histories… The barriers for her clients are often big but never insurmountable.
The first time Tannisha received an “I got the job!” text from one of her clients, she was ecstatic. She knew she was finally in the right place.
“I’m really in tune with my faith, and I believe that this is my purpose,” Tannisha says. “If there are individuals out here with a skillset and the ability to earn a living, and there’s companies out here to hire them, then my work’s not done.”