Job title/company: CEO, Excelsior Youth Center.
Education: M.S. Applied psychology-mental health counseling;
B.A. Recreation and leisure service management;
June 30th, 2016
Tell us about your career so far: I originally went to school for music composition. After working in outdoor recreation, I went to work in youth character development at places like the Boy Scouts, the Girls Scouts, and the YMCA. I found myself really wanting to get into behavioral health. Working with youth, I could see the families’ concerns about what their kids needed.
That led me to find a program in behavioral health, and I ended up working at Excelsior as a therapist in 2008. From there, I was able to integrate recreation and leisure services into some of our programs, and the outcomes are looking promising. It’s really guided us to listen to families.
We often say nothing about them without them. Their voice and their choice is a part of our theoretical approach to working with families. They’ve helped us understand more about the specialty services that they need and what programs might really impact them—what interventions might get them out of multisystem involvement. There are a lot of different requirements coming from different angles—all really wanting the same thing, and that is a safer, stronger, healthier family as part of our community.
My career has truly come to be about serving the community through meeting the needs of the youth and the families of this area.
What are your aspirations? I have so many aspirations for the youth who lack support-system resources. My goal is to work with them, listen to them, and find out what it is that gives them hope and what it is that helps them feel safe. I want to build relationships with them so they can start to identify opportunities for success. It’s all about finding hope and these opportunities to really help them define for themselves a path toward excellence. We’re trying to improve our community’s health. I want to respond to the need in our community by being nimble and flexible.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration. I look to my staff for inspiration. There are nearly 200 employees at Excelsior, with about 130 of them being full time. The values of our staff bring us all together: unity, professionalism, and communication. We work together, and the cooperation and teamwork inspire me. We make each other better.