What I Do

I am a dedicated social worker and nonprofit leader by trade and a fervent advocate at heart.

I say advocate at heart because advocacy is at the core of what I do and advocacy drives my commitment to helping nonprofit organizations carry out their mission while best serving their constituency.

I was introduced to the world of social work at an early age without even realizing it. You see, my mother, and heroine, lived with schizophrenia for the entirety of her adult life. She was also a survivor of abuse. As a child, I was consistently among social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists whether it was when accompanying my mother to a med appointment at the local health department or meeting her therapist during one of the many occasions she was hospitalized at the local psychiatric center.

I know firsthand the pain she endured throughout her lifetime as a result of the stigma and discrimination she faced, especially during the early years of her diagnosis. I have also seen how some of that pain was lessoned by those that selflessly advocated for her – many of which were dedicated social workers.

I didn’t start my career in the world of nonprofits. In fact, I started as a journalist who entered the field with the hopes of making a difference in the world through my writing.

Soon after graduating from college, my mother was again institutionalized. This time, the outcome of this particular hospitalization was different. I had learned about a new psychiatric drug that was offering hope to individuals living with schizophrenia and my mother was interested in trying it out. So, instead of being discharged to her parent’s home, she was discharged to a psychiatric unit in the city I was living, a few hours from where she was. My focus shifted from my career in journalism to helping my mom and unwittingly, it also shifted my attention to the world of social work. I was now serving as my mother’s advocate, something in retrospect I had done in various ways my entire life.

Soon after graduating from college, my mother was again institutionalized. This time, the outcome of this particular hospitalization was different. I had learned about a new psychiatric drug that was offering hope to individuals living with schizophrenia and my mother was interested in trying it out. So, instead of being discharged to her parent’s home, she was discharged to a psychiatric unit in the city I was living, a few hours from where she was. My focus shifted from my career in journalism to helping my mom and unwittingly, it also shifted my attention to the world of social work. I was now serving as my mother’s advocate, something in retrospect I had done in various ways my entire life.

Around the time of my mother’s move, I realized that the career path I was on wasn’t feeding my soul the way I had hoped, so I met with a professor to inquire about studying social work in grad school. He suggested I try volunteering for a nonprofit organization to see if it was really what I wanted to do. (I often wonder if he was trying to dismay me or encourage me.) Either way, I was hooked after volunteering for a local domestic violence and sexual assault program. I chose this nonprofit because I believed in its mission. I soon fell in love with the profession AND the people.

The world of nonprofits is where I belonged and I knew it would be my lifelong profession.

20 plus years later and I am just as excited to be dedicating my professional life to the field as I was during my first shift answering the crisis line.

Why? Because I believe in the power of nonprofit organizations and the people that support them.