City of Residence: Galveston
Current Title: Deputy Director
Place of Business: Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County
Education: Ball High School, 2002
Catawba College — Bachelor of Arts, Theatre, 2005
New York University – Master of Social Work, 2015
Family: At 37 years old, I believe one of my greatest accomplishments is the family I have created and strengthened over the years. My mother and sister are my best friends, and my stepfather is my biggest cheerleader. My husband is the most beautiful soul I have met, and my 3 dogs and 3 cats are my life. However, it is the friends I have met along my journey from adolescent to adulthood who have had the biggest impact on shaping who I am today. I have an eclectic group of both short and long-distance friends from all over the globe who challenge me to never stop learning, never stop studying, and keep my mind open. Their unique talents, passions and expertise, ranging from the arts to the sciences, motivate me and make me a better person. I am forever grateful for both my chosen family and my blood family for supporting me and lifting me up through all of my awkward phases, my challenging times, and continue to support me even when I’m on my social justice warrior soap box again and again.
Professional Responsibilities: I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with an expertise in trauma therapy, specifically for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. I began my social work career after returning to Galveston from New York City in 2015. I began work at a juvenile justice program, providing therapy to adolescent females who had been impacted by human trafficking. I then worked as a therapist for the Teen Health Center, providing therapy to Ball High students before moving to the Resource and Crisis Center as the Director of the Therapy Department. In my most recent promotion, I moved from the therapy department to heading up all of client services at the Resource and Crisis Center as the Deputy Director. In my role, I lead a talented group of employees to provide trauma informed services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, ranging from case managers, to therapists, to psychiatrists, advocates, and crisis intervention specialists.
Accomplishments/Honors: I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and recently became a board-approved supervisor, allowing me to mentor and teach young social workers as they move into clinical careers.
Community Involvement: I am the treasurer for the Teen Health Board or Directors as well as a member of the Families, Children, and Youth Board. I am an active member of C-Crewe at the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce. I am also extremely active in outreach and prevention efforts at my current place of work, finding creative and meaningful ways to raise awareness around domestic violence and sexual assault.
Why did you go into your particular field?
Prior to becoming a social worker, I was an undergrad theater major making my way as an actress in New York City. I spent the majority of my 20s chasing my dream of Broadway while working late nights in the service industry to pay my bills. It was as rewarding as it was exhausting.
There was a significant moment right before my 29th birthday where I decided that the artist hustle was no longer fulfilling, and I wanted to find a new path. A hard look at my résumé resulted in focusing on my volunteer work. At the time, I was providing advocacy in the emergency room at the local hospital to victims of sexual assault. Not only was it a challenging and rewarding experience, but also it provided me with meeting one of my first mentors in the field.
By age 30, after inundating my friends, family and professional contacts with question after question about my new journey, I had been accepted into the Master of Social Work program at New York University. Honestly, it was the best life decision I have made to date.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I spent much of my childhood wanting to be an artist or a veterinarian. At one point in my pre-teen years, I had aspirations of becoming a pet orthodontist after hearing a news story about a rabbit who could not eat due to a significant overbite. I still think about him to this day, and I truly hope that he found the help that he needed.
What was your first job?
My first job was at a boutique on The Strand called Flores Soneau, which is now the home of Tsunami Bar. It taught me many lessons in money management, as the majority of my checks were spent on clothing instead of saving.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Breathe. This has been the most valuable piece of advice I have been offered, and I have heard it a lot over the years from a lot of different people in my life. Taking a moment to relax, regroup and refocus — even if just for a 5-second breath — is the key to overall health and wellness.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Education and outreach about interpersonal trauma (i.e., sexual assault and domestic violence), including the definition, symptoms and the prevention of. Whether in session with clients to aid in the healing process, with staff and interns to educate new social workers, or to the community and general public, I could talk about trauma for days and days and days. It doesn’t exactly make me the most popular person at social functions, but awareness leads to prevention.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
Everyone’s definition of social worker is completely different. Social work encompasses such a broad scope of care that I will have to be very specific when explaining my particular role to someone outside of the career field.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor and why?
I have been fortunate in my career to have crossed paths with so many strong, intelligent and genuinely kind women. The two who stand out the most to me are Dr. Beth Auslander, mental health director, and Angie Brown, executive director of the Teen Health Center. These two women hired me on as a therapist for Teen Health at Ball High School in 2016.
Dr. Auslander is a truly gifted psychologist with the most infectious enthusiasm for her work with adolescents. Angie Brown is unparalleled in her abilities to wear multiple hats while running a very successful and ever-growing nonprofit agency.
When I was offered a leadership position at the Resource and Crisis Center, I was an emotional wreck. I was afraid to leave a position I felt so at home in, and I was so worried about having to tell them. They were beyond supportive and gave me the confidence I needed to start my journey into leadership. Teen Health always will be one of my favorite places to have worked.
I am so grateful for them and their continued willingness to let me call, text and email for consultation pretty regularly. I am also very fortunate in having been accepted onto the Teen Health board where I get to continue working alongside them. I really want to thank them both for making me a better social worker and leader.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to relax?
I really enjoy re-watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episodes, reading fiction books and doing jigsaw puzzles. I wish I could say I took more advantage of living by the ocean and doing outdoor activities, but when I get off work, I really do enjoy a quiet recharge.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
As a former actress and current social worker, people tend to assume that it is easy for me to talk to people and to present in front of groups. The reality is, I am an extreme introvert and talking to anyone outside of my small circle really triggers my fight or flight response. I am a work in progress.
How do you hope to grow in your career?
I am really enjoying my new position in leadership. While it took some adjusting not providing therapy daily, it has provided me with the ability to make significant and positive change within my agency and the client services programs. Also, it has given me a chance to teach and mentor staff and students. I believe my next move is to enroll in a doctorate social work program to continue my education in the field of trauma work. This way I can provide the best care for survivors, for my staff and for the community at large.
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
Honestly, I would love to work at Tom Thumb Nursery. As with most people during the pandemic, my dabbling into plant buying recently has turned into an extreme sport. I now need to master propagation, know both scientific and common names, and have a deeper understanding of their uses from air purifying to healing.
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