When I’m near the ocean, I cannot help but to stop and allow myself to watch in awe of the immense power and responsibility that these major bodies of water possess. To protect our Earth and perpetuate life cycles, the ocean rhythmically flows , and the responsibility that they hold in protecting our earth and perpetuating the life cycles that rely on their rhythmic presence in partnership with land masses that adapt to the itsoceans’ waves and tides.
Similarly, my responsibilities as the responsibility that I uphold to my work as a social worker must be responsive and adaptable to the needs of communities and to those who I serve.
I find meaning, peace, and inspiration from the flow of water, which is why water is so prominently featured on my website. The photos (taken by myself) offer a lens into my perspective, and the wisdom and healing that accompanies, for me, observing and experiencing the impact of water in nature on an individual’s willingness to look for common ground and recognize the power within themselves to contribute meaningful insights to their professional and personal lives.
My interest in the field of social work coincided with my introduction to Jesuit values as a freshman at Creighton University, a place where a focus on service and community were instilled from the moment I stepped onto campus. and throughout my four years of learning. As a social worker by training, I’ve centered my work in a variety of ways throughout my career with intentions reflective of Jesuit and social work values of inclusion, equity, service to others, and human dignity.
As a social worker, my service to the micro (individual), mezzo (group), and macro (society) levels is an ongoing effort to effect change at the broader ecosystems of service delivery while also providing support to individuals. I have identified ways to work at the individual, family, community, and organizational levels to share my professional values and skills where I can impact change. Leaning toward the work of systems change from my first social work course, I recognized, much like water must adapt to its surroundings and the lunar cycles, so too must our work flow in a forward motion, adjusting our programs, policies, and processes to meet current needs so that we may continue to meaningfully and appropriately serve others and address needs of those who experience oppression and hardship.
This work requires constant reflection, attention to the broader scope of our systems, and transformational conversations to determine what change we must make at the micro (individual), mezzo (group), and macro (community) levels to work toward more equitable, meaningful interactions, greater healing, and improved results for healthier individuals and communities. I use my reflections on the power of water, movement, and fluidity to provide clients at all levels with the space to receive my full attention as I listen, engage, advise, direct, and support to help them in processing their experiences, developing their skills, and achieving their goals. As such, I’ve broken down my main service offerings below for each of those levels.
Individuals and Groups
At the individual and group levels, I provide social work supervision, required for licensure in a nonclinical capacity. I adapt my approach to co-create a space to make sessions meaningful for each person that I serve based on their intentions and needs for the supervisory relationship we build together. My responsiveness to each individual’s needs is centered on magnifying and providing space for their reflections on their developing practice of social work, and their individualized goals for learning and growing as a professional social worker.
Breakdowns in relationships inevitably lead to conflict. My work with families and groups in mediation is rooted in an approach that empowers individuals experiencing conflict to develop communication and problem solving skills that improve their ability to move toward meaningful and equitable decision making, not just during our sessions but in the future when other disagreements may arise. I support each party equitably to ensure that they are heard, that their interests and positions are known, and that they are treated with dignity and respect as they take part in the mediation process. Through this work, I facilitate a productive discussion with the goal of resolving disputes and identifying an agreement that both parties find acceptable. The process is driven by the neutrality that I, as a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral, must uphold, and the attention I bring to structure the discussion that enables both parties to center their attention on the topics needing resolution, with an approach that models effective and respectful communication and clear boundaries to reach a resolution and move forward with less conflict and a stronger approach to problem-solving.
My work at the community level is concentrated on counteracting the unfair advantage that white people have experienced in Minnesota and nationally, with policies and programs that have prioritized the needs and advancement of white people over people of color and indigenous people. I also work toward more inclusive and capable treatment of people with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities. I use my knowledge and skills to contribute to work that improves equity and access to education, services, and basic needs that help improve outcomes for all individuals and families. I also use writing, social media, and other methods that amplify voices that need to be heard, educating people and providing action steps that help eliminate and counteract oppressive policies and practices and identify ways that all people can have access to what they need to thrive.
Organizations, Companies, and Coalitions
As a consultant to organizations, companies, and coalitions, I work with leaders to offer training and mentorship on the use of supervision to improve morale, retain staff, improve outcomes, and manage workloads. Understanding the dynamics of the supervisory relationship and recognizing the importance of building strong, committed teams is critically important to managing staff, and the skills needed for this work are often under-appreciated and not prioritized for training new and experienced leaders. Prioritizing these skills and finding meaning in building strong supervisory relationships helps teams and organizations become more productive, supportive, and stable.
I also work with organizations and groups to identify data that can be used to help inform the work they’re doing and determine what directions must be taken to improve outcomes and customize services to be more closely tailored to the needs of the communities they serve. Evaluating their progress and commitment to their goals helps them develop a stronger, more deliberate approach to their work, and hone in on addressing the needs of the people they serve.
Through all of the work I do, I use my social work lens to ‘start where the client is’ and meet people and groups where they are to customize my support and interactions to address their needs and build on their strengths to achieve lasting and transformative results. The fluid and powerful nature of water flows through all of my interactions and helps me adapt my approach to meet the needs of each client that works with me.