An innovative, collaborative, and entrepreneurial Partner
"I kept hearing this narrative that people who have faced adversity will also face difficulty in the workplace. It's my passion to change that conversation." -me
This quote has become the illustration of my passion. Program development is my professional superpower, but employment related matters are my life blood. A meaningful job sustains a person’s passion, purpose and fosters progress. With the right work, every day we have a chance to live a life of meaning, happiness and connection.
My professional work experience includes the development, operation and oversight of youth and adult programs, vocational counseling and curriculum development. Prior to becoming a Partner at Street Smart Ventures, I worked as a counselor at a local not-for-profit and co-founded a young adult program. As my next venture, I founded an event planning company and worked for Women Standing Together- a community of women helping to move women leaders and entrepreneurs go from good to great in Portland, Maine. My areas of expertise include services for people with barriers to employment, engaging young adults in needed services, event and curriculum creation.
Personally, I am an outdoor enthusiast. I enjoy hiking, camping and fishing with friends. I love traveling and reading. This past year, my husband and I traveled to South Africa for a few weeks and spent a long weekend in Nashville to follow the Patriots and lament in their loss against the Titans. Most of our weekends are spent visiting our friends across New England and bringing our English Mastiff, Tucker, to new and exciting backyards. When I am home, I love organizing and reorganizing anything, as long as there is a horror movie playing in the background.
My love for purposeful work fuels my study of social enterprising and its impact on community development. I received my undergraduate degree from UCONN in Psychology, and I am currently working toward my MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovative leadership. Using the world of work as my canvas, I create opportunities for purpose, passion, and progress. I provide coaching and support to my communities by serving on several leadership and charitable organization boards. I feel that I bring my best work through program and process development.
I am always seeking partners who want to create a solution based in inclusion with grass roots development. Working together, nothing is insurmountable.
Street Smart Ventures is a culmination of all that has been right in my world. This company has provided me with the opportunity to create alongside fascinating people, leverage assets, grow and expand programming and provide hope in meaningful areas.
Our mission at Street Smart Ventures is to provide our clients and communities with creative, practical and engaging sets of supports, opportunities, and services, designed for individuals, groups, and organizations that are committed to social change and a sense of fulfillment. The Street Smart Ventures vision is to work, live, and play in a kind and engaged world with abundant possibilities for all.
Street Smart Ventures creates businesses and structured work experience programs designed to meet the needs of various customers and special populations. We believe entrepreneurship, work, and learning can be integrated into highly motivating and mentor-rich activities to teach life, work, and academic skills.
We use a highly engaging and flexible framework named the Work and Learn Model (W&L Model). The W&L Model integrates hands-on learning, positive mentoring, entrepreneurship and work experiences. The model has been successfully adapted for middle school, high school, and adult populations.
Recently, Street Smart Ventures presented their programming and research at the International Research and Policy Conference for Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Mental Health Conference. The benefits of participating in a conference of this nature are the new ideas shared. Currently, Street Smart Ventures is working toward publication of our research that shows how passion and entrepreneurship can be a cost-effective route to employment.
Our W&L Model combines learning and mentoring within the context of entrepreneurship, job training, and employment. Through hands-on work experience and integrated learning curriculums, participants are empowered to pursue a creative path to employment readiness.
The W&L Model has been successfully implemented to help youth and adults in major cities across Connecticut and in New Orleans, LA. In 2002, the W&L model was awarded the Promising and Effective Practices Network Award by the Department of Labor and National Youth Employment Coalition for best practices in youth employment and positive youth development.
Our framework has been used to achieve specific objectives for its participants. These include building life skills, teaching financial literacy, creating meaningful connections to positive role models, keeping youth out of the juvenile justice system, helping juvenile justice youth re-enter their communities, linking foster care youth to work as they transition to independence, helping reduce recidivism for adults exiting the prison system, and improving retention and graduation rates in high schools.
The W&L Model provides employment opportunities and is a learning environment for its participants. The framework teaches essential soft skills (e.g., communication skills, leadership, influencing, interpersonal skills, personal skills, creativity, and professional skills) enhances individual characteristics proven beneficial in educational and employment success (e.g., perseverance, emotional regulation skills, delayed gratification, etc.) and develops occupational skills.
“Work experiences are a critical component of preparing youth for transition to adulthood. Potential benefits for youth who participate in work experiences include: 1) gaining career readiness skills including the “essential soft skills” that employers look for in entry-level workers; 2) increasing one’s knowledge of specific occupational skills and workplace settings; 3) establishing a work history and connections with employers that can aid in future job searches; and 4) developing an understanding of different occupations in order to make informed career choices. In addition, research studies around youth and emerging adults suggest that work-based learning may increase school attendance, decrease dropout rates, reduce school suspensions, and increase school engagement (Medrich, Calderon, & Hoachlander, 2002). One study found students who participated in work-based learning were more likely to attend college or go to work compared to their peers (Jobs for the Future, 2007).” (Wells 2015)
Becoming a part of the SSV community is more than just an opportunity to engage your program participants and network with colleagues from around the state. It is an opportunity to bring change to your agency, your community and the lives of your participants. You are not just exposing them to another area in the world of work and reinforcing the idea of independence, you are propelling them toward greater life satisfaction. By tapping into a persons' interests and passions, you get to know them on a deeper level, ask different questions, and learn new things to keep this interaction going. It takes you both out of the provider's office mentality and sits you both on the park bench to ponder what brings joy and hope to your lives. Switching this mindset is one step that will help alter the power paradigm and bring a new perspective to working together.
To stay up to date on all things Street Smart Ventures find us at all the links below.
Progress through our YASBIZ program
Progress is easily seen through our program YASBIZ developed especially for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. YASBIZ, meaning Young Adult Services Businesses. This collaboration has helped program participants become young entrepreneurs and explore work opportunities through experiential learning. Entrepreneurs pair with program Advisors, mentors and community leaders to propel work experience and exposure to more than 200 youth across the state.
To experience the energy for yourself, join me at one of our Work and Learn events hosted around Connecticut. More information can be found here.
If you are not able to attend an event in person check out some of our videos on the
YASBIZ YouTube channel