Partner Spotlight: Joyce Woodson, Founder, The Referral Project

In 2015, Learning Life benefited from two $1,000+ donations thanks to The Referral Project.  Below, we spotlight Joyce Woodson, founder of The Referral Project, who helps explain how you and anyone you know who is planning on buying or selling real estate can significantly help Learning Life without paying a penny.  

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

What is your line of work?

I have earned my living as a real estate broker for nearly 30 years, and served in elected office for six years.  Gardening, however, is my true life’s work.

Joyce WoodsonWhat, in brief, is the Referral Project, and why did you create it?

The Referral Project funds nonprofits using real estate commissions earned when we refer a real estate agent to a real estate consumer and a transaction occurs.  Nonprofits share The Referral Project with their supporters just like they would share any other funding opportunity.  Supporters (i.e. consumers) contact The Referral Project and we find and refer the best agents for their needs.  The Referral Project, not the agent, then donates half of our commission earnings from that referral to a nonprofit selected by the consumer.  I created The Referral Project to support nonprofits. I am a philanthropist at heart; The Referral Project allows me to support nonprofits in a significant way.  To date, donations have ranged from $500 to over $6,000.

How can an interested individual or nonprofit get started with the Referral Project?

A nonprofit or an individual can contact us by email or phone at any time: or 703-647-9575.  This is a free national service; there are no fees to the nonprofit or to the consumer.

Is there a particular life experience you have had that has shaped you as a person?  If so, what is it, and how has it shaped you?

Running for and serving in elected office was a personal life-changing experience.  (I was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 2000.  I served two terms and did not seek re-election.)  I have always been engaged in community building.  I was honored that people thought I would make a good elected official, but I was stunned when they worked for and funded my campaign.  Who was I to deserve this trust? It was a humbling experience as well as an exhilarating experience.  As the first African American woman elected to hold this seat, I became a role model for young women of color.  Serving in elected office allowed me to shape public policy, in particular expanding affordable housing opportunities and creating civic engagement training to bring more people into the very heart of our democratic process.

What is the most beautiful place you’ve seen on Earth, and why is it so beautiful?

I am not well traveled, but the Grand Canyon is the most majestic and incredible place I have ever seen.  Nature carved and painted that magnificent site over many millennia.  I reflect on it regularly as a reminder that humans have only been part of nature for a very short time.  It helps to keep things in perspective, and that perspective has informed my life’s narrative.