TThe oldest child and a preacher’s kid (PK), VanDella Menifee was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Her Chicago neighborhood had more broken glass than grass, and that coupled with her many responsibilities and joys as a PK made her the person she is today. After graduating from Jacksonville State University, in 1987 she began her over 25-year career in the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Her willingness to volunteer for challenging assignments and unpaid opportunities after hours helped propel her career in the Atlanta Penitentiary system, initially as a Correctional Officer, then Case Manager, and then as an Assistant Case Management Coordinator. After receiving numerous awards for work performance and volunteerism, in 2000 VanDella was promoted into the top-secret clearance position of Atlanta Community Corrections Manager. Another promotion gave VanDella the opportunity to work as the Atlanta Regional Office Witness Security Coordinator.
Downsizing throughout the Georgia DOJ brought VanDella to the Grand Prairie Office Complex as a Designator in 2005, but her operational, leadership and training skills quickly earned her two promotions: first to Operations Manager, then to Dallas Regional Re-Entry Administrator. Another round of downsizing made it the right time for VanDella to retire and spend time with family.
Throughout her successful career — full of leadership opportunities, promotions and commendations — and a lifetime of volunteerism, she has remained a passionate “ambassador for positive change.” As a volunteer, she has been recognized with a PTA Lifetime Membership, the inaugural 2021 Mavericks Community’s Star Award for Policing Humanity by the UT Arlington Student Society of Real Estate, and the honorary title of “Volunteer of the DFW Metroplex.”
Volunteering has given me the opportunity to serve others and meet so many people in various capacities,” said VanDella. “Rich, poor, old, young, able bodies, disabled bodies, blind, quadruple amputees, professional athletes, etc. For me, the status in life doesn’t matter; it is how you treat others.”