Grassroots America Executive Director, JoAnn Fleming has juggled many roles in her 20 plus years working in government.
“I just care about the news, even way back then,” says Fleming.
From racing home to catch the Macneil and Lehrer Report, to leading the Texas Tea Party Caucus, JoAnn Fleming was drawn to the political sphere from the get-go.
“My parents raised me that you don’t have to ask permission to do the right thing and to stand for the right thing,” says Fleming.
Her husband’s job transplanted them to Tyler, TX, and Fleming found herself in a city with no friends or family.
“God has opened some doors for me and I have expected him to be with me every step of the way,” says Fleming.
It didn’t take long for her to find her footing in East Texas.
Fleming went on to be a Smith County Commissioner, Executive Director of Grassroots America – We The People, and spear headed the Texas Tea Party for Ted Cruz’s campaign.
“I can assure you she has a depth of knowledge and if she doesn’t have a depth of knowledge on an issue, she’ll gain it, she’ll really study,” says Tyler Mayor, Martine Heines.
I’m kind of a policy wonk,” says Fleming. “People might say that I can know enough details about any issue to make their eyes roll back in their heads.”
Fleming is a strong believer in conservative values, and she does not hold back.
“She’s like a bulldog, she’s very strong.”
Rick Eisenbach, Vice President of Grassroots America, says regardless of the flack others throw her way she is unwavering.
“I try to treat people the way I would want to be treated, but at the same time I don’t go looking for a fight, but if you want to put one in front of me we can do that,” says Fleming.
Fierce in her beliefs, it often opens the door to public ridicule.
“A lot of people don’t like what she’s doing because she’s standing up for very strong, taking very principled stands in conservative values,” says Eisenbach.
“I can remember dad always saying, god made you to be an original, he didn’t make you to be like anybody else,’ says Fleming.
Through the years Joann has built an impressive resume, serving on 24 different local boards, task forces and committees.
“I never went to the “who’s who” of the community and asked them to bless me, because i didn’t need it,” says Fleming.
Fleming’s leadership has impact, because she commands respect.
“It’s not that she was given influence or given power in the community, she has worked day in and day out as a volunteer for 20 plus years,” says Heines. “You earn that by hard work and knowing your topics.”
It’s a role where you have to stick by your principles and values, or the crowds will wear you down.
“You have to get over the idea that everybody is going to love and like you,” says Fleming.
“She’s got a lot of followers, a lot of people that believe in her so she doesn’t let the criticism get to her,” says Eisenbach.
Despite the criticism, long hours and push back, her fiery conviction drives her to keep pushing forward.
“I don’t have some big fancy office in a big building, but you don’t have to have all that to have an impact,” says Fleming.