Get to Know the Team: Meet Cassandra

In the past year, the SCY/PAACT team has grown in many ways. We hope to familiarize partners with who is on the team and what they do – in the hopes of making SCY better conveners for community organizations.

Hi Cassandra! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Can you give a brief introduction of yourself and give us a little about your background?
I am an experienced social worker who has served over 15 years providing direct services to students who have been expelled or pending adjudication from Chicago Public Schools. I have served in the capacity of District SAFE School Coordination and Juvenile Justice Re-Engagement Manager for Chicago Public Schools. In these roles, I’ve been instrumental in the development of reentry plans and partnering with community organization in servicing Juvenile Justice Population.

What drew you to violence prevention?
In my previous role working with pre-adjudicated students is what really launched my interest in violence prevention work.  Many of the youths and families that I would encounter had experienced some level of violence within their community, school or domestic cycles of violence. This population of youth were becoming desensitized to the violence occurring frequently within their day to day world. This was upsetting for me to see how violence had become normalized, so this work became personal for me.

Which of SCY’s Five Focus Areas do you feel that you have the most impact on?
Of SCY’s five focus areas I feel that I have the most impact on sustained investment in children and youth. Advocating for evidence based practices and supporting youth with care coordination services are two strategies that perpetuate investments in youth and currently drive my role as SCY Program Coordinator of the Juvenile Justice Collaborative.

What is the best part about working in youth-centered work?
The best part of working in youth centered work is sowing seeds that will have its greatest impact on mental, social and physical development on toward adulthood.  To be able to have youth take control of their own destiny is a critical component of youth centered work. This approach on practice can be empowering and life changing for not only the youth but for families and communities.

Describe yourself in three words.
I would best describe myself as passionate, impactful and committed.

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