Jodee Ruppel may have started out in a one-stoplight town in Indiana, but she always seems to climb higher and reach farther. A Park Scholar, she moved to Raleigh to attend NC State, where she met her husband, Christian Wilson, also a Park Scholar. When Christian, originally from Greensboro, got an offer to teach at his alma mater, Southern Guilford High School, the couple packed up.
Jodee worked with the UNCG Alumni Association, where she was central to bringing back Homecoming and starting their student and young alumni programs. Jodee will be the first to tell you, while she loved her colleagues, she was not “feeling” Greensboro and craved a bigger City.
In 2007, Christian accepted a job that relocated them to NYC. As they settled into Brooklyn, Jodee continued her work in higher education as Director of Events at Columbia University while simultaneously earning her Master’s degree at the University.
Her energy and abilities were easily noticed by international nonprofit DKMS, Delete Blood Cancer. Jodee became the head of U.S. community engagement, traveling across the country, and the world, to educate others about the need for bone marrow donors and help save lives.
Throughout their travels, Jodee and Christian would come back to Greensboro to visit family, particularly at Christmas. In the early days of being away, those visits home weren’t their favorite. Something happened around 2013 and the trips back got more interesting—there were new restaurants, activities, and “a whole new vibe”. When the couple visited again in 2015, Jodee saw Greensboro in a new light. “Walking the streets of historic downtown, I felt this gritty spirit that reminded me of Brooklyn–something big was going to happen. Greensboro was growing up, and I felt like I could be a part of the evolution.”
The couple (sort of) left NY behind, moving in with Christian’s parents in Greensboro while still keeping his job in NYC. As Global Head of Fraud and Risk Management at Fiserv, Christian began spending his weeks in NY and returning to GSO on the weekends (but now he mostly telecommutes). Wanting to live downtown they purchased a building and spent their weekends over the next 16 months transforming the space into their dream condo. It was worth the wait and the work. Jodee and Christian now live in the top floor of their building, renting out spaces below them in the heart of downtown. “We can just walk out the front door and go.” The central location made it easy to make friends, and enjoy all Greensboro has to offer.
Jodee quickly followed through on her dream of changing Greensboro for the better. After working to help revitalize the City Center with Downtown Greensboro Inc. she struck out on her own. Now her business, 5×5 Consulting, specializes in helping nonprofits and local governments find new ways to engage the community and make a difference. Her work with Future Fund of Greensboro is helping revolutionize local philanthropy by giving away $45,000 “Shark Tank” style. Besides her consulting business, Jodee finds herself remodeling rental real estate in Greensboro. If it’s happening in Greensboro, Jodee’s likely involved.
While Jodee and Christian weren’t planning on a family when they moved back from NYC, once they got here and realized how much their quality of life had increased and how easy it was to do all the things they loved– dine out, visit friends, be active, and travel, they craved something more and welcomed a baby, Bergen, to their family.
You can find Jodee and Christian out for a run on the Downtown Greenway (with baby Bergen in tow), brunching at Sage Mule, sipping coffee at Union, grabbing dinner and cocktails at Machete, White & Wood or any of the 1618’s, shopping at Wrangler/Lee and Vivid, or swinging a hammer at their latest renovation project. Greensboro has made it easy to balance their high-paced professional life with fun social activities.
Jodee will tell you, “Greensboro gives you community.” If you’re ready to jump in and get involved, you’ll find your place here.
Jodee’s “I’m Outta Here” Moment:
Jodee and Christian were happy living a fast-paced lifestyle, based in NYC but traveling extensively. One day after leaving the office after 8:30pm again, they realized they were paying astronomical rent just to live in a basement apartment, eat takeout and watch Netflix. They wanted more—a better (and healthier) way to live and a feeling of community. “We wanted a good way of life. And we knew we could find it in Greensboro.”