What is your story? Or in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?
I was born in Freeport, a small town in Northern Illinois. I love this town. If you are from the area, then you know us as the home of the Freeport Pretzels (our high school mascot). There are so many great things I can say about this town that gave me a strong foundation which has led me to my continuous success. For starters, my family is there. I consider my family to be more than just a group of individuals related by blood. My family includes my mentors, accountability partners, cheerleaders, and support system. While I can never minimize the impact of male role models in my life, I was surrounded by strong women such as my mom, aunts, cousins, and sister who always supported me in the challenges that come when reaching for your goals. Being from a small town gave me constant access to these very important individuals.
As an ‘80s baby, there was a show many of us were familiar with called “Cheers”. Its theme song included the words, “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” Those words stand true when it comes to my small hometown. Success in Freeport never seemed to be measured by the amount of money you had in your bank account. Success was measured by the strong sense of community, hard work, compassion for your neighbors, and the ability to care for your family.
In 1999, I moved away from Freeport to complete my education in Social Work at Illinois State University. While I left my family and small town, the values and morals I gained have stayed with me. I went on to complete my Master’s degree and pursued a career in social services. My passion to serve others has allowed me to meet a variety of individuals in communities where I have lived including the St. Louis Metro East region. I am currently the Vice President of Older Youth and Supportive Services for an organization that has served its community for over 150 years. In spite of my career title, work history, and financial position, there is one fact that has remained true since my upbringing: my success—or how I rank my awesomeness—can only be measured by my care, compassion, and love for my neighbors and community.
What message do you promote?
I am passionate about growth and development. I strongly believe no matter what age group you are in, you should always invest in the development of yourself. So in this ever-changing and developing society we live in, the message I promote is this: that which is not developing is fading. We must continue to research, study, and create awareness that allows us to grow with society so we can meet the needs of those we serve.
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
I am blessed to have established a career that involves serving my community but I choose to LEAD UP by being a servant leader, volunteer, mentor, and donor.
In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to.
I think a common struggle many women can relate to is having a sense of belonging and image. I believe these struggles continuously arise as you enter into any new work environment. These challenges can make you question if you are qualified enough and have the right look since there can be an overemphasis on your physical appearance. I overcame this struggle by having a strong relationship with my higher power, loving the skin I am in, and believing that no matter where I am, I was chosen to be there to fulfill a mission or task. Perfectly created, perfectly chosen, and at the perfect time.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Serving others, leading with compassion, and seeing the outcome of what we as humans can produce by investing our time in one another.
How do you SHOW UP?
A few years ago, I participated in a program called St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative. One of the program’s leaders challenged us to make sure we showed up as our best selves on a daily basis. As I serve the community, showing up as my best self and consistently giving my best is important because anything short of that impacts the lives of those I serve.
If you could give one piece of advice for women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be?
Live your personal and professional life intentionally. Write out those three-year plans, assess progress, and make adjustments when necessary.
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About Epworth Children & Family Services
Founded in 1864, Epworth Children & Family Services is a multiservice agency that helps at-risk and in-need children, youth, and families move toward self-sufficiency by focusing on health, housing, education, and employment. Epworth provides foster care case management, residential and intensive treatment, psychological evaluation, in-home family therapy, emergency shelter services, transitional and independent living, homeless youth outreach, a drop-in center and clinical services, life skills and vocational training, and a 24-hour crisis help-line. Epworth is headquartered at 110 N. Elm Ave. in Webster Groves and has offices in Normandy, University City, and South St. Louis City. For more information, call (314) 961-5718 or visit www.epworth.org.