Chief Program Officer of Family & Community Based Services
WHY LITTLE CITY
My introduction to Little City was serendipitous: I was introduced to Little City through a staffing agency after relocating to Chicago from Washington, D.C., and I was fortunate enough to ended-up finding my place to call home for the majority of the next 15 years. I found a place whose mission, values, beliefs, and vision aligned with mine, and who was a leading provider of services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Having relocated to Chicago, I was relatively unfamiliar with the child welfare community in Illinois. I accepted a temporary to permanent assignment within Little City’s Foster Care & Adoption Program located in Chicago, which also happened to only be less than a mile from my home at the time. I started my career with Little City in 2007 through 2014 when I left the organization for a short stint to explore work in other areas of child welfare, only to return a year a half later.
I recall remarking in my interview prior to my return to the organization in 2015 that it takes a certain and special kind of person to work within foster care, and I was that person. I am called to the work we do in serving youth and adults with special needs and their families in their communities because of my passion for advocating for those in need of a voice to promote equality, equity, safety and well-being in our challenging and complex world. I have experienced first-hand the impact our work has on those we serve. I feel fortunate being able to make a living making a difference in the lives of others.
Little City has always been a place that promotes diversity, relationships, continuous learning, professional growth and development, change and adaptability, and creativity – and it’s these things that have kept me motivated, excited, and challenged over the years. I am excited to be in the role of Chief Program Officer to continue to grow and advance the mission of the organization while making a difference in the lives of vulnerable and underserved youth and adults in various communities throughout the state of Illinois.
I have nearly 25 years of experience in child welfare. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Michigan State University, a Master’s degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Throughout my career, I have always worked in human services. I have worked in residential, school, crisis response, housing-insecure and homeless shelters, adult care facilities, adoption, and foster care settings. With Little City, I have served as a case manager, licensing representative, supervisor within foster care and adoption, program manager, director, deputy program officer and now chief program officer.
I have been in management roles for the past 15 years of my career. I love analyzing problems and unmet needs pertaining to clients, personnel/teams, and programs, and then working to create solutions in a systemic and impactful way. I am very proud of attaining the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children All Families Seal of Recognition for being culturally competent in serving LGBTQIA+ youth and families in 2014 on behalf of the foster care program, and being the first organization to have attained this recognition in the state of Illinois.
I am also honored to work alongside so many passionate and caring individuals who make the difficult work we do fun. The programs that I have oversight for – foster care and adoption; home-based supports and respite; and community-based clinical services – has a high retention rate and positive
work culture. I am known to regularly expand on the quote of Hillary Clinton that “It takes a village to raise a child” by saying, “it takes a Little City to support our individuals and their families.”
The passion of the people I have the honor to work with has created so many positive outcomes for those we serve, resulting in us expanding, innovating, and growing over the years. Both the home-based supports program and the foster care and adoption program have expanded through either agency merger and/or cases acquisition. The foster care and adoption program in particular served approximately 75 youth out of the Chicago office when I started in 2007 and we now serve over 250 youth out of three administrative sites located in Chicago, Matteson, and Joliet. We have also expanded our clinical services to offer mental health and behavioral (applied behavioral analysis/ABA) therapy to more of those whom we serve and within the communities we serve. Seeing the impact we have on the lives of those we serve, and contributing to the countless success stories such as helping youth exit foster care by reunifying with their birth families, or attaining subsidized guardianship or adoption, or attaining independence through a transition to college, living independently, or transitioning to DHS adults services; or providing essential case management and clinical services that support our individuals in the least restrictive environment of their own homes and their communities, keeps me inspired to lead us towards continued greatness.
I am a proud Michigander, having grown-up on a lake outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I spend a lot of my vacation time in Michigan with my friends and family enjoying boating and water sports, pickleball, biking, and hiking. I am a Michigan State sports fan. I was at MSU when they won the National Basketball Championship, so I love participating in March Madness Bracketology and watching games every year.
I have lived in London, Boston, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, East Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Chicago. I have lived in the city of Chicago for the past 15 years. I enjoy all of the things that the city has to offer such as the lakefront path for biking and walking, the beaches, summer concerts and festivals, Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks and Bears games, museums, and all of the amazing and diverse restaurants around the city. I am an avid traveler, having visited most of the 50 States and over 20 countries. I travel to visit friends and family, experience new cultures, try new cuisines, soak up some sun, and engage in outdoor adventure activities like snorkeling, ziplining, etc.
I am a proud aunt to my niece and nephew who live nearby and to many of my very close friends’ kids. I enjoy trying new things and challenging myself to continually learn and grow, while equally enjoying relaxing with a good book and a cup of coffee. I enjoy yoga but still consider myself a novice after 20 years of practice. In addition to my work, I find a lot of fulfillment in helping others through my volunteer work with the food insecure.
If you weren’t Chief Human Resources Officer at Little City, what would you most likely be doing?
If I wasn’t working at Little City, I would be an event planner, teacher, or travel writer and photographer.
“Be the Change You Wish to See in the World”