Creating Community

It’s fitting that Shervonne Cherry ’05 has the job title Community Manager—the word “community” seems to be a common thread in her life.

For one, it’s a top reason she chose to attend then-Villa Julie College. Cherry knew that she wanted to pursue a degree in art or design and VJC was a prospective school. “I had a friend who was a freshman there, so I shadowed her for a day,” she says. “I’d had the image of college from the movies where it showed an auditorium with 200 students in a class. That scared me but then I came here and saw that it was like a community. President Manning was there greeting people, which impressed me. And when I decided to attend, it didn’t disappoint. It was a small community where I could grow, and I could tell people cared about me.”

Fast-forward 11 years later to her position at Spark Baltimore, located at Power Plant Live!. Spark is described as a collaborative co-working space, and its clients are entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators.

“We’re the next step after a company has graduated from an incubator, we’re about the growth,” Cherry says. “It’s expensive, you’re trying to build your brand, find a place—Spark focuses on the scalability of companies trying to grow. A lot of companies come to us—maybe just one person, maybe three or four, and they don’t know where they’re going to be in three years. One company started with one desk, now they’re in an office and soon moving to a suite because of growth. Spark is designed to fit the changing needs of the modern workforce.”

Cherry, who likens Spark’s space to the Google campus, says that her role is establishing and maintaining a community, both inside and outside the space. “If I can see that one company there can meet the needs of the other, I can introduce them. I know every person in the space, so I can see what everyone’s doing. Externally, because I have worked in tech companies in Baltimore, I know the other players and can make the necessary connections there.”

She’s promoting community in yet another way as Vice President of Stevenson’s Alumni Board. “Someone ahead of me gave back to help me as a student, so that’s what I want to do now—contribute time and energy,” she explains. “And I like that Stevenson is the same as when I was there: it still has that community feel.”

There’s no question that Cherry’s appreciation of community will have lasting effects. “I’m trying to contribute back to VJC and to Baltimore,” she says. “And I’m having fun doing it.”