Jami Oakley is the founder and executive director of UniCycle. In her role, Jami oversees all organizational operations, clothing donations, funding, and community and school partnerships. Jami thrives in an environment of problem-solving with the tools at hand and enjoys the marketing and communications side of running UniCycle almost as much as she loves connecting the right people who will effect change together.
Inspired by a magazine article in 2014 about the workings of the Homeless Education Resource Office (HERO) within Metro Nashville Public Schools, Jami was moved to contact the program’s manager to see if she could somehow help to ensure that the school day was as calm, consistent and supportive as possible for the 3-4,000 students experiencing homelessness citywide each year. Seven years in, the Nashville community has risen to meet UniCycle’s mission and the volunteer-run nonprofit has grown beyond anyone’s expectations.
Jami is also a co-chair of education for the League of Women Voters Nashville, an active member of her sons’ school community at J.T. Moore Middle School, and a 2021 graduate of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Public Education cohort. Prior to raising two boys while living in Europe and Latin America, she worked in public relations as an account director for Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations in Houston.
Jennifer RubenWarehouse Coordinator
Jennifer Ruben, originally from Louisville, KY, joined the UniCycle team less than a year into the venture. Her two children attend schools in the Hillwood Cluster, and volunteer work within the schools had prompted her to ask a question about a worthwhile place for outgrown school clothing to go. She was referred to the HERO program, which created an introduction to Jami, and the core UniCycle team was formed! Her smiling face is now behind nearly every box and bag received by a student or a UniCycle Closet, and she organizes many community and special school drives throughout the year, works with volunteers and makes school visits to help set up or re-imagine UniCycle Closet spaces. Jennifer enjoys the organization of closets and clothes, working with volunteers in the warehouse, and finding new and unexpected sources to fill existing needs.
UniCycle provides Standard School Attire to students in need within the Metro Nashville Public School system by collecting gently-used clothing items in schools and redistributing them at both the school level and through the Homeless Education Resource Office, lessening the task for MNPS support staff and parents, offering more clothing choices to students whose families have limited school clothing budgets, and giving new life to clothing that is “outgrown, not worn out.”