“I was with Step Up from March 2013 to November 2015. I was a student success coordinator. At that time, I was in graduate school (MSW). Today, I am the Program Director for North and South America at Partners for Youth Empowerment.
I came to the Open community because of their explicit and unwavering commitment to race equity. In my interview I was impressed by their directness about giving and receiving feedback (gave me cues about the mature and healthy environment I was stepping into).
My time at Open gave me practical applications of what I sought in grad school but didn’t get; profound personal and professional transformation; skill sets that I have used to become a government executive and now a director at an Open/Step Up partnering organization (Partners for Youth Empowerment), an international organization that trains youth workers.
Open added to my life 1000%. I wouldn’t be at the level of depth in my race equity analysis and application, healing and health in my personal relationships, and advancement in my professional career if it hadn’t been for what I gained there. The most invaluable asset, that [if I didn’t have it] wouldn’t allow all the other things to take place, is that I gained a community of professional peers who are my friends. It wouldn’t be possible for me to accomplish all the other things without this community.
In undergrad I majored in Latin American Studies and Ethnic Studies. So I came to Open with a foundational, theoretical understanding of DEI work. But at Open I learned contemporary, real time analysis with what was going on in the world and community in real time. This has equipped me to understand, maintain resiliency, and impact my community through the racial justice upheavals since. And I learned more clearly about how I had internalized everything, and how it came out in my personal life. Few people have all these components. That has led me to be able to be sought out as a professional and quasi “expert”, for having such a unique/hard to find grasp of the issues. Many orgs/people have one or a couple components but not such a wholistic understanding. I got that at Open.”