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Here’s What You Missed at the Economic Mobility & Well-Being Conference

August 22, 2021

Venue: Conference

Shaping Solutions Through Research, Policy, and Practice

The annual Economic Mobility & Well-Being Conference in Milwaukee, WI, was a hybrid experienced hosted by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and the National Association of Welfare Research and Statistics (NAWRS).

Phyllis Gervais-Voss and Victor Sims Represented Public Knowledge®

Phyllis Gervais-Voss, Vice President of Child Welfare & Human Services, and Victor Sims, Management Consultant, attended the conference. They were able to share about the variety of management consulting services offered and the recent formations of several important and relevant initiatives.

Our Versatile Expertise Can Help

Public Knowledge® is always striving to expand our expertise and offering new ways to help organizations. Phyllis and Victor spoke about the various thriving sectors of our organization, including:

  • Business Intelligence and Impact Team (BIIT)
  • Family Integrity & Justice Works (FIJW)
  • Child Welfare Vision and Strategy

Catch Up on the Sessions You Missed

Phyllis and Victor were able to attend the thought-provoking sessions during the Economic Mobility & Well-Being Conference focused on the importance of hearing the voice of those who are impacted by the systems. Furthermore, it encouraged the attendees to look for ways in which we can provide tangible support to families by listening to them. Building trust and trusting others throughout the process comes from listening, hearing, and consistency.

Opening, Community Voices Panel –

How Health & Human Services Professionals Can Help Mothers

  • Nicole Lewis, Author of “Pregnant Girl: A Story of Teen Motherhood, College, and Creating a Better Future”
  • Panel of Parent Leaders: Christine Perez, Mariah Hunt, Kennashka DeSilva

This fantastic panel comprised of Parent Leaders who are mothers and professionals talked about their lived experiences and how they overcame various barriers, raised children, gained a college degree, worked, and coached others.

They described the various qualities that contributed to their success: resilience, persistence, self-value, net-working, ability to express themselves and their needs, and joining support groups.

What they believe is needed:

  • Quality and flexible childcare
  • Food assistance
  • Support for students; mentorship
  • A one-stop shop or centralized resources
  • Housing
  • To be listened to; be treated like a person not a case
  • Support for those dealing with legal and justice systems
  • Personalized services vs “one size fits all”

Blueprint for a Just & Equitable Future:

The 10 Year Plan to Dismantle Poverty in Washington State

  • Drayton Jackson: Chair Governor Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Work Group
  • Lori Pfingst: Senior Director, Poverty, WA Department of Social and Health Services

Race and social justice are the priorities of this initiative, which brought 45 agencies and individuals together to create this. The focus of this program surrounded around developing the process rather than jumping in and create the plan— building trust is the priority.

Along with the eight strategies and 60 recommendations, this panel shared their views on current systems and programs, including:

  • Programs don’t seem to be designed to move people out of poverty, instead they are designed to manage poverty.
  • The system not only dehumanizes the recipients, but it dehumanizes the case workers.

The 10-year plan focuses on economic success, power and autonomy, and value and belonging.

Closing Session Featuring Speakers:

Babs Roberts, WA Department of Social and Health Services and Derreck Kayongo, Social Entrepreneur, founder of Global Soap Project

This panel focused on Mr. Kayongo’s journey from Uganda to Kenya in 1979 after facing military conflict and eventually coming to the United States. He initiated the Global Soap Project, which gathers used bars of soap from hotels, cleans and processes them, then redistributes them around the world. According to Mr. Kayongo, 800 million bars of soap are thrown out by hotels each year. Additionally, he shared his guiding principle of SELF, which stands for:

  • Service – Give back to others.
  • Education – Go beyond your comfort levels to
  • Leadership – Lead through the knowledge of what others are experiencing.
  • Faith – Have Faith that those who are experiencing something are telling the truth.

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