I'm often asked what brought me to this work; child protection, public service, and anti-oppression efforts. The answer is the same for all: my community's needs, desires, and experiences gave my career direction. Describing myself as a mixed kid from the projects doesn't always get a favorable reaction, but it's the truth and holds no shame for me. Neither do any of the other identities that make me the person I am today.
I hold a Master's degree in public administration from Metropolitan State University and an undergraduate in psychology and women studies. My public services career started with my first professional job out of college as an alternative response case manager on the east side of Saint Paul. That position was my introduction to child protection; quickly discovering the disparities, I realized the change needed would have to come from within the system causing these poor outcomes. Finding my way to spaces and fighting for a seat at the table among decision-makers was not the solution I thought it would be.
As a child protection worker, I found that policies, practices, and statutes interfered with my ability to make decisions in the best interest of families. As a supervisor, I found some of the same challenges, and the team I supported described transgressions in moral code during supervision. As a manager, I started to draw the connection between staff retention and outcomes for families. It became clear that staff supported in making decisions that align with their values remain in high-stakes decision-making positions. The unnamed emotions and blame the system placed on professionals led me to the term Moral Injury. Once I found the name of my experience, I felt empowered, becoming driven to inform the workforce and hold systems responsible.