by Carmen Brewton Denison
I’d like to make it clear from the outset that I address you candidly as a Black woman, and a Black community member. I speak to you as a descendent of the enslaved Africans, Indigenous people of the Americas, and Black civil rights activists who lived and marched in Alabama during Dr. King’s time.
The title of this year’s programming is From Resilience to Black Liberation; I’d like to unpack how we arrived at our theme.
While today we honor the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, we also honor the legacy of millions more who have been made invisible in the history of the civil rights movement but whose work has brought us where we are today; elders and youth who have sustained a generations-old struggle with wisdom, fortitude, and resistance. This programming is a proposition. A proposition to imagine and seek to make manifest a world in which we are not, as Black people, always called upon to be the backbone of our nation. Resilience is part of the Black narrative, yes, and we honor that narrative today, but with this, we demand a world in which resilience isn’t a requirement for Black people’s survival.
While we dream of better, but we see the present. We see that our community grieving those lost to Covid-19, which has killed more Black people than any other demographic. We see that police continue to terrorize and murder our community members in their homes and neighborhoods with impunity. We see that over 74 million Americans voted for a president whose only platform was white supremacy. We see protests for racial justice met with state violence instead of accountability. We see global displacement and criminalization of Black peoples, weaponized borders, the demonization of immigrants and refugees. We see environmental degradation and extractive practices facilitated by white supremacist capitalism, only now considered a pressing issue, and ongoing devastating impacts of climate change on Black and Indigenous people. We see the poison of everyday anti-Blackness and microaggression, and it impacts on, Black folks’, health, wellbeing, and ability to thrive. Finally, we see a string of old and recognizable stereotypes and false narratives that serve to invisibilize, gaslight, and subordinate Black people as they navigate the rough terrain of everyday racism.
It goes without saying that Black people are resilient, brilliant, creative, powerful, and inventive, this is stating the obvious, but continued demand that Black folks stand up while white institutions push us down is unrealistic, unsustainable, and oppressive.
Blackness, in its great diversity of embodiments, as a political and affective identity, has always sought liberation, collaboration, and critical inquiry. The Black activist is an artist and a social critic. Despite non-acknowledgment of its historical roots, Black liberation has a legacy traceable to resistance against white domination on plantations and is present in all liberatory movements that continue to this day. In must be said, though, the struggle is hundreds of years old, and as the Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer so aptly and succinctly put it fifty years ago, “ I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” while the push for social transformation and Black liberation moves forward always, I think it’s fair to say that Black folks are still, and rightfully so, sick and tired of being sick and tired.
This year’s programming celebrates those that sustain the work of liberatory space making. Words can not express how proud and grateful we are, as a collaborative to be in a community with these incredible presenters. It is their collective voices, expertise, and wisdom that provide the blueprint for a new city, society, and world. Presenters, your work is bold, courageous, and of the utmost importance. Finally, I’d like to that the collaborative for modeling collaboration, accountability, and critical care as a working methodology. Thank you to all you amazing, hardworking, and generous community engagement practitioners.
Carmen Brewton Denison
Executive Director of Campus Compact of Oregon
by Daniel Altamirano Hernandez
My name is Daniel Altamirano Hernandez (he/they/el/ellos) and I am an CCO AmeriCorps Alumni. I participated in a year of AmeriCorps VISTA service with Campus Compact of Oregon beginning in the Fall of 2019. Through their network I was placed at Portland Community College (PCC) Rock Creek Campus & the Hillsboro School District (HSD). The project I was assigned to centered around racial and educational equity, by creating supportive pathways for youth in our communities. This translated into the creation of The PATHE (Peer-Based Assistance for Transition to Higher Education) Program. The program created an environment to form mentor-based relationships between a current PCC college student and a current HSD graduating student. Together and guided by curriculum, the pair would meet as needed to navigate the higher education process.
One of the goals of AmeriCorps programs is to help others and meet critical needs in the community; and that is why these programs are so important and valuable. This COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our society in many ways, but for the PATHE Program, it was a call to action. Beginning in March, coaching and curriculum delivery was transferred to remote and online environments. In collaboration with the host site, I developed telework guidance that PATHE Coaches followed on a weekly basis to the end of the academic school year. We adapted our communications and created social media accounts to keep students connected over the summer, to lower the likelihood for summer melt. Due to this early plan of action, students were equipped with resources during the summer, which is post-graduation when they no longer have contact with their high school counselor.
The PATHE Program is currently in its last of it’s 3-year AmeriCorps grant cycle and will continue to support students on their journey to higher education. Previous focus and goals for the project differed depending on year; Year 1 was focused on developing a community & needs assessment and year 2 was focused on program creation and capacity building. The focus for year 3 is currently sustainability and outreach, to implement a standing program at the host sites.
Dear Partners and Community,
The time has come for me to bid farewell. It’s been quite a ride and a true pleasure to engage in this incredibly important work in collaboration with you all in some capacity, even if indirectly. Exactly five years ago, I was the first staff member intentionally brought on board to support an organizational shift of focus to ground in racial equity and intersectional social justice specifically within the field of education. Therefore, when I began this journey with Campus Compact, we – as an organization - had only just begun our own intentional journey down our own racial equity roadmap. And in 5 years, with the intentional addition of dedicated and passionate staff, we have really begun to model our stated values and walk our talk. What a journey, and really, for Campus Compact of Oregon, it has only just begun. Our current Campus Compact crew is absolutely incredible, I have no doubt that they will accomplish amazing feats in this journey toward racial and educational equity.
For me on the other hand, I’ll be moving to Atlanta, GA to live close to my family and turn the page on a new chapter of my life and development. I will be shifting focus a bit with respect to employment, and looking into new avenues to do this work. Staring with a racial equity consulting group that I co-founded last year (so let me know if you’re looking for equity facilitation!). That said, any path that I wander down, I will bring the knowledge, skills and wisdom that I have gained at Campus Compact OR and in community with you all with me to whatever future position I may hold.
Thank you all for your collaboration and partnership in this work! Really, Campus Compact is composed of all of us, and you all are the reason that the amazing work in our community is accomplished. It's been a true honor to walk this past with you.
Please keep in touch!
Kaycie López Jones
(206)947-7097 – cell number
With Cindy Carlson, Dean of Students, and Birgitte Ryslinge, President
Each year, Campus Compact of Oregon member institutions get 4 hours of free training and consultation on equity in education. Oregon Coast Community College in Newport, Oregon, has made the most of this resource. A small college with just 13 full time faculty and 40 part time faculty positions, OCCC brings together its entire staff, faculty, and administration twice a year for in-service trainings. For three years in a row, Campus Compact staff facilitated workshops at these trainings, on topics like the history of race in Oregon, or the ways white supremacy culture perpetuates organizational dysfunction.
“The first time that Josh came four years ago we were really young – immature I would say – in our equity and inclusion work,” says Dean of Students Cindy Carlson. “He was really instrumental in opening those doors for us and facilitating conversations that could have been challenging, in such a way that people didn’t get defensive, which is a pretty big deal.”
President Birgitte Ryslinge feels that the Campus Compact all-staff trainings “helped to create an environment where we have more people understanding the barriers facing some students. It was awareness raising for our employees as a whole.”
OCCC has since started its first Equity and Inclusion Committee, and uses some of the equity tools provided by Campus Compact to evaluate the institutional systems they are building as part of the process of becoming an independently accredited college. The long-term impact of this preliminary work is beginning to bear fruit.
“We have made two full time faculty hires of people of color in the last three years,” shares President Ryslinge. “This is impactful with a full-time faculty of just 13. Were it not for all of the foundational work we were doing through Campus Compact, the outcomes of the screening process might have been different. Faculty and staff who were present for the equity trainings were on our screening committees for hiring. Part of the screening committee orientation was, "don’t look for people who are like us, or focus only on the traditional applicant. Look for— who is this person? How do they bring differences to our faculty? How will students relate and be inspired?”
One of those hires is Oscar Juárez, who is heading up OCCC’s new Early Childhood Education program, which will prepare students to work at places like Head Start, become child care teachers, or get them on their way toward a teaching degree. Through this program OCCC hopes to grow more teachers who will stay in the community in Lincoln County. Juárez’s educational background, work experience at Head Start, and his cultural background were large factors contributing to his appointment. Quoted in a press release for the college, Juárez said, “I felt this was a community that needed me…I have a lot of experience working with low-income families, and as a Hispanic person, I’ve heard from people that said they were excited to see someone with their skin color that can speak their language, and others saying that seeing me in this job gives them hope.”
“We have a long way to go, and we are making good progress,” President Ryslinge reflects on OCCC’s equity journey. “We are small and rural – we don’t have dedicated diversity staff or internal experts – so growing through the assistance of a resource like Campus Compact has been so important.”
with Paulina Jaeger-Rosete,
C2C Member 2017-18
Paulina Jaeger-Rosete served as a Student Engagement Specialist through the C2C program at Buckman Elementary in 2017-18. She ran several attendance initiatives, including the colorful Unicorn Attendance Academy, which she shaped alongside the school counselor, a fun reason for students with attendance below 90% to come in and say hi each morning, earn points, and be recognized at assemblies for their improvements. Paulina partnered with teachers to identify students to work with on reading and writing during the school day; and during after-school hours she helped run a homework club and prepare for STEAM education night. Paulina also attended Buckman’s monthly Family Equity Team meetings and served as a Spanish-English translator and liaison between SUN, Buckman, and the families. As a community service event, she organized a day camp called, “We are Neighbors, Outside and In,” which brought students, families, and community partners together for activities and service projects around homelessness and the housing crisis in Portland.
At Campus Compact we have invested deeply in our AmeriCorps recruitment process to place candidates at our sites that reflect the students they serve. Representation—racially, culturally, and linguistically—matters. Paulina experienced this first hand. “I see how I am valuable to the Spanish-speaking community at Buckman,” she reflects. “There are four mothers I speak with in Spanish when they come in. One in particular has told me that she appreciates me a lot because otherwise she's kept mostly to herself. When we see each other, we catch up and talk about her daughter. One student, from Cuba, has a lot of break-downs during SUN after school sessions. He speaks English really well, but when he's upset I tend to talk with him mostly in Spanish. I've seen it get through to him differently than English... like an immediate ally. The other day he was able to just talk really rapidly about his feelings in Spanish, and I felt good that he could do that with me and be understood.”
Connect2Complete members fill in the gaps at K12 schools and seek to provide the consistency, one-on-one attention, and restorative practices often missing for students of color or low-income students who are struggling with attendance and engagement in school. “I try to be really fair and gentle and consistent,” Paulina says of her approach with her students. “If I have to miss an appointment with a kid, I let them know and make sure they understand the situation. I do my best to make sure kids do not feel shuffled around or helpless around me. I think an important key to this is showing a lot of respect for the kids and their talents and ideas. And it's really honoring what IS good in them and connecting with them over their interests and skills.”
Paulina says that Campus Compact’s supportive program, cohort structure, and trainings were key to her success. “I had never worked full-time in the school system before, although I had part-time and tutoring experience in middle and high schools. Campus Compact, from day one, let me know that they are here to listen should I need it, here to help answer any questions I might have, here to brainstorm with me, here to provide mediation for any difficult conversations, and here to connect me with resources and training opportunities around working with children, restorative justice, and racial equity.”
Impact Story: The Teach, Learn Grow Program Invests Long-Term in Students with Support from College Access Corps Members
With Elias Villegas, Dean and supervisor, Cassandra Martinez, '18-19 CAC member and TLG Coordinator, and Alvaro Mendoza, '17-18 CAC alumnus
The Teach, Learn, Grow program at Chemeketa Woodburn was founded six years ago with the support of Campus Compact of Oregon VISTAs, and College Access Corps members have coordinated the program ever since. At TLG, CAC members recruit, train, and coach Chemeketa students to become community volunteers. The students act as mentors and provide academic support for middle and high school students in Woodburn.
TLG’s recipe for college-K12 mentorship is about long-term investment in students and the Woodburn community. The program encourages community engagement and volunteering, builds a college-going culture in local schools, and encourages students who may not have considered it before to pursue teaching in the community as a long-term career. And it’s working. Says Elias: “Some of the students who went through the program as youth are now Chemeketa students. We have had a few of them become mentors. And some of the students who were mentors 5 years ago are now teachers – they went to Chemeketa, transferred to Pacific University across the street, and are now teaching here in our community.”
How do they do it? “We would not be able to do this great work without this support from the AmeriCorps program,” says Elias. College Access Corps members recruit mentors at Chemeketa by visiting classrooms at the start of term, set up a booth at schools during lunchtimes to recruit youth, match mentors with youth they connect with, create curriculum and fun activities for weekly sessions, plan university visit field trips, and organize service days and community events such as Woodburn Proud City Clean Up Day and Cinco de Mayo. Chemeketa also makes serving with TLG worthwhile for its students. The college students take a free mentoring class for 2 elective credits, and they can take it up to three times, so it can actually save students money on school.
TLG is transformative for both the K12 youth and the Chemeketa students. “When the youth build a relationship with college students they are more engaged in academics. Then once they realize how important education is, it changes their perspective. Then they also give back to their communities," CAC alum Alvaro Mendoza explains.
“There was a mentor who thought she only wanted to do the program for one term,” shares current CAC member Cassandra Martinez. “Then she got really attached to three students at the middle school. She decided to come back for winter term, then spring term. When we have mentors come back, it brings a lot of joy to me because they are enjoying their community and making an impact.”
Alvaro also remembers “a young gentleman who was a mentor, was able to get a Ford Foundation Scholarship for a full ride to PSU because of the community service he did through TLG. He told his story about his mentoring experience in his essay. I was honored to write him a letter of recommendation.”
Elias agrees. “Many students who come to college don’t know what they want to study, and through this program they go on to become teachers. Our students have changed majors, and became teachers in our community.”
Impact Story: The Higher Education Coordinating Commission "Unpacks Structural Racism" Through ELSEE
with Bob Brew, Deputy Executive Director and ELSEE Cohort 1 (2017-18) and Patrick Crane, Director of the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development and ELSEE Cohort 2 (2018-19)
The Executive Learning Series on Equity and Empowerment (ELSEE), facilitated by Sonali Sangeeta Balajee and Josh Todd, brings together educational administrators, faculty, and students from across Oregon to delve into discussion of systems of power, privilege and oppression, and the application of an equity lens in the work we do across education. Institutions put together a cohort of up to 8 representatives and together participate in a yearlong course that includes a culminating project meant to being to shift outcomes towards equity at their institutions.
Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the government agency overseeing pubic higher education in our state, has put two cohorts through the ELSEE, one in 2017-18 and a current cohort in 2018-19. HECC entered the ELSEE with a specific goal. HECC is “committed to increasing college completion rates overall and also completion rates for specific racial and ethnic groups,” explains Patrick Crane. “ELSEE was about learning tools to put the equity lens we already had into practice. Yeah we have a policy, but how do we really see it through?”
Patrick says both cohorts agree that ELSEE gave participants “a space that is removed from the structural authority that determines how we interact with each other, and build relationships we wouldn’t have otherwise built. It has given us time and space which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the organization to unpack the structural racism in the world and at work…and think about how we at HECC both interrupt and reinforce structural racism.”
Beyond relationship building, Cohort 1’s ELSEE project is beginning to impact the way things happen at the state agency. Bob Brew shares that the “ongoing project was to examine the hiring, recruiting, and retention practices to look for unconscious bias or things that discourage folks from applying. We put a new tag at top of job notices that says ‘research shows women and people of color are less likely to apply if they don’t meet 100% of qualifications. We encourage you to apply even if you don’t think you meet all the qualifications.’” HECC also disabled a function in their online recruiting tool that removed candidates from the pool if they said they did not meet all the qualifications. Bob remembers, “we were in the midst of a hire… and with these changes two of the top 5 candidates were women and one was a women of color who would have been kicked out because they checked the ‘I don’t meet the qualifications’ box but they were the most qualified. One of them was hired.”
Now, the cohorts are working together to think about how to bring lessons from ELSEE to the whole 124-person agency.
“What I came a way with was, are good intentions aren’t enough,” says Bob. “Because systems are entrenched. If you want to disrupt them, you have to do so intentional and planfully.”
We caught up with VISTA alumna Nelda Reyes, about two of her recent projects. Nelda is an evaluator, researcher, artist, actress, and—now—consultant and author!
Nelda is the primary consultant at AB Cultural Drivers, a business she started which works “in collaboration with researchers, evaluators, program developers, foundations and organizations to assess, investigate and develop culturally specific projects…specializ[ing] in cultural and educational projects involving Latino communities in the United States and Latin America.” Nelda’s local clients include the Library Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, OMSI, Portland Art Museum, and more. Check out their services here!
Nelda is also the author (alongside collaborator Gerardo Calderon) of Huehuetlatolli: The Wise Tales of My People, published in 2018. The book is a duo-lingual adaptation of legends from some of the most influential indigenous cultures of the Americas which are still a vital part of contemporary Mexican culture: the Aztec, the Huichol, and the Maya. Each section features a legend, a traditional song, and an art-based activity. The book includes an audio CD with songs performed in the original indigenous languages and also has spoken directions to facilitate the art-based activities. Learn more and get the book here!
How did your year as a VISTA contribute to where you are now?
When I was a VISTA I was doing work in evaluation with Latino Network. It was that year that I said, I’m going to go from being a full-time employee doing research and evaluation to actually try to see what it would be to have my own business and start as an independent consultant.
That year helped solidify so much for me. To be alongside a whole group of people doing all different kinds of work with a similar goal of equity, to learn from one another… that was powerful for me. It was like all these things I knew already and felt inside were confirmed because I could share a vision with the whole group.
Tell us about your consulting business.
Research and evaluation is very technical, but it’s still about people. I realized that as I consultant, I would be able to do work for nonprofits, foundations, eventually government and academic institutions where I would be able to influence the way things are done, because through evaluation you can show impact. I could also influence the work of practitioners. If I am evaluating an educational program, I could support educators to have deeper insight on what they are doing and how to improve their practice.
Always I have been drawn to working with communities who have not been listened to before. I don’t want to be an external evaluator who comes and gives you a report. I want to partner with other professionals doing this work, to embed the practices and the values that I believe into their work. And because of the nature of equity work, and you guys at Campus Compact know this well because I’ve learned from you – once you start and you take off the blinders, there’s no going back. You start transforming yourself and you cannot see the world in the same way. So in my evaluation work I embed my values of lifting this veil, to have more influence to change the whole research and evaluation field. So my business is that I am a partner – I will partner with a principal investigator and say okay you want to listen to this community? This is how we can do that, and we’ll do it together. And that’s how I’ve been doing my work, which has been great! It’s very involved. I spend a lot of time talking, I put a lot of love in each of my clients and my projects but it’s happening, which is super exciting.
Tell us about your book!
Different things intersected to inspire me to make this book. I had a great great grandmother, she is indigenous from the east coast of Mexico who lived to be like 109 years old. So when I was little she would tell stories and by being around her and her influence, I developed a love for stories and I appreciated her perspective and it felt so different but I didn’t know why. Then later I learned that she had grown up so differently – from indigenous roots. I have an aunt who used to work with indigenous communities in the western side of Mexico, in Chiapas, from the Mayan and other cultures. She would bring me whenever she could. I would be with them and learn from them in this very remote place and do social service projects, like vaccinations and things. Those trips really opened my mind to different ways of living, I would go to festivities and ceremonies, I saw things that you don’t get to see unless you are there. You could only go in on airplanes to some of these communities as there’s no roads!
When I came here to the U.S I met Gerardo, who did the sound and music for the book, who has been studying all the pre-Columbian instruments, the rhythms, particularly from the central valley of Mexico. I loved this, and had this idea and suggested we do this together. So I started researching stories, went into archives of historical books from monks and things about the first time they came to the Americas. Eventually we selected 3 cultures from Mesoamerica, and song and stories from each to go into the book. I had the opportunity to go visit. The 3 languages are completely different; the way they live is completely different.
This took me about 6 years to put together. Funding came from RACC for the illustrations and book design. We did a digital version of it, but my dream was always to have a physical book because I know how important that is for children, for families, especially for our communities to promote literacy. And we finally did it! My goal is to have it in every library in this country and if I can in Mexico too. This is about access to stories. I want kids to feel proud, feel excited about learning about this. Just so people know, a little bit, these cultures are alive, they are so beautiful and the languages too.
What’s next for you?
At some point, one of the things that I’m dreaming about is to create a learning community for the field of research and evaluation in the region. A while ago the Oregon Program Evaluation Association they hosted me and some peers to present a session to people in the field to talk about what is the role of a researcher/evaluator in equity – at the personal, institutional, community levels. We realized that our field is in the early stages in terms of understanding our role as professionals in equity. So one of my big dreams is to put together a model of community learning for researchers and evaluators, so we can all learn what our role in equity means. This is another way that I think I could influence the field, so that we become more aware. So I’ve had some initial conversations and people are really excited! People from higher education could get involved with this, could be a good opportunity! I am an instigator here I feel… but in the best way!
We recently spoke with VISTA alumna Angela Frazier, about her journey since her service year. Angela is a speaker, mental health activist, educator and leader in the health field. Below are some highlights from that conversation!
Tell me about your VISTA service. Looking back, what were some of the highlights?
I served at Black Parent Initiative as Community Operations Coordinator. It was my first job out of undergrad – actually, I graduated in December 2014 so I was still in school for the first part! I was contacted by the Program Manger at BPI, who asked me if I was interested in being an AmeriCorps employee, and I didn’t know what that was, but I was interested in BPI. BPI promotes literacy in education for parents of black and multi-ethnic children. In such a white city as Portland this was a unique focus and importance to me. We partnered with Portland Public Schools and brought cultural and diversity engagement nights to the schools. We served a lot of people; one thing I did was volunteer recruitment, and I got my sorority sisters and other PSU fraternities and sororities involved. I really liked being a VISTA because it was like an internship where you are able to make mistakes, come up with ideas, and try new things. I ended up writing my first grant while I was there, to fund a community garden. It was a little grant, just $5,000 from the Portland Timbers, but I got my first grant that I ever wrote! I think writing my first grant and getting it really taught me that I was a good writer. It was funny because they just assigned it to me and I just said yes – I’ll say yes to almost any opportunity. I didn’t have any plans for how it would go. But then I actually got to go down to the Timbers game during half time to accept the grant. It helped me build my confidence and launch my career. I also loved In Service Trainings, those were some of the best conversations. I can only imagine what they are like now!
What did you do after finishing your VISTA Service?
I became a Grant and Communications Coordinator at Bradley Angle, an organization that serves everyone affected by domestic violence. At that time my mom was dealing with an abusive relationship. While working there I was talking with advocates about how to navigate her situation. My mom ended up taking her own life in April 2016 and Bradley Angle opened the Tami Best Emergency Shelter in December 2016, named in her honor. Although I’ve moved away from Portland now, I am still actively involved. Every year I do a Mother’s Day event with gift baskets for the women staying in the shelter. This year we’ve added a special component, a panel about mental health and domestic violence for the community to attend.
After Bradley Angle I came to Houston and received my Masters’ of Public Health in Community Health Practice. I saw that The University of Texas Health Science Center (UT Health) was a good program and I wanted to go somewhere warm, and more diverse than Portland. I wanted a fresh start. I received my Masters in May 2018 and was honored as the Student Commencement Speaker. Now I am working at Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. I also do public speaking.
Tell us more about being a public speaker.
I speak about mental health, domestic violence, suicide prevention, and my own journey. Mental health is such a taboo conversation – and so as a speaker I bring this conversation into different settings like churches, schools, and nonprofits. I always frame my talk around the organization and what their focus is. Last year for example, I spoke at Portland State University for International Day of the Girl. It was an event for The White Shield Center that provides a safe learning environment for girls between the ages of 12 and 20. I talked about my path, overcoming certain challenges, and the importance of education and mentorship.
What would you say to current AmeriCorps members?
Take every opportunity that comes your way, because you never know where it’s going to lead you. I was approached about being a VISTA and had not idea what it was. Then I wrote a grant and that made it possible for me to apply to a Grant Coordinator, which led to my relationship with Bradley Angle. After that my mother's shelter was opened. It was a domino effect. Even with the public speaking, I just had someone contact me about a position as a program manager for suicide prevention.
I am always a resource too – if there’s anyone interested in what I do, I am a huge networker, I am always available and would love to talk!
Learn more about Angela’s public speaking – and book her to speak at your event! – on her website.
Kim Louvin is currently working as a School Social Worker in the Gresham-Barlow School District.
Kim served as a VISTA Member with Oregon Campus Compact at Concordia University working to expand access to, increase capacity of, and strengthen the social justice focus of Concordia University's Office of Service Leadership Alternative Break Leadership Experiences as well as local volunteer opportunities for students. Kim relocated to Portland, Oregon just weeks before beginning her service from the East Coast and was brand new to all things AmeriCorps and all things Portland. The task of 'getting things done' was the motto Kim lived by during her 2 years of service and has carried into each role and experience after. AmeriCorps VISTA showed Kim the breadth of impact of poverty and how systems often designed to strengthen communities can inadvertently create barriers and divisions for those most vulnerable in our society if not challenged to rise to become more equitable and accessible. With this knowledge, Kim chose to pursue graduate work in social work with a focus on communities and macro-level interventions as well as a license in School Social Work to work to 'get things done' to set students and families up for success and instill skills and strategies to reach their dreams amidst the realities of today's world.
After graduate school, Kim spent several years working at a local nonprofit within the Community Schools department in local school districts to help families access community resources, navigate school, and participate in opportunities to for fun extended day classes, activities, and groups designed to promote closing the achievement gap while having fun, learning new things, and making new friends along the way. Kim's time with AmeriCorps VISTA through Campus Compact provided daily opportunities through interactions with students, systems, and communities to learn that the impacts and origins of poverty in our community are not 'one size fits all' nor do they manifest in the same way in each individual. Campus Compact allowed Kim the opportunity to scratch the surface of Trauma Informed and Culturally Responsive practices and the connections to pursue graduate work and future employment with a local nonprofit working to move lives forward and ultimately a school district working to empower and inspire each student. As any AmeriCorps alumni knows, some days "the work" is getting stuff done to find donations for an upcoming community service project, other days it's writing a 50 page manual on how to continue sustaining built capacity, and other days its wishing you can speak truth to power but knowing that's often a prohibited activity while in service. Kim's 2 years of service built the foundation necessary to pursue social work, see the world through an equity lens, and pursue a better world personally and professionally. Throughout her 2 years and beyond, Kim's favorite quote became "the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do" and while she may not have invented the iPhone as Steve Jobs did, she's certainly carried the mission of "getting things done" into every step of every day in a way instilled deep within through 2 years of service.