Katie’s greatest joy in life is helping others succeed and reach their potential. Prior to joining the 50CAN fam, Katie exercised her passion for serving youth by completing two years of service with City Year in Washington, D.C. from 2011-2013, first as a corps member in a sixth-grade classroom at Johnson Middle School, and then as a team leader at CW Harris Elementary School.
Serving in some of the lowest-performing schools in one of the lowest-performing school districts in the country opened her eyes to the systemic inequalities that put many students at a severe disadvantage. Katie graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with a bachelor’s in psychology and English and a minor in creative writing. She earned her master of social work from The Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis in 2015.
Katie now works as 50CAN’s development associate, helping to achieve the kinds of high-level changes necessary to ensure that all students have an equal chance to learn and grow no matter where they come from. In her free time, Katie enjoys playing with her dog, Lana, vegan cooking and watching X-Files reruns.
I aspire to be a selective reflection of all the people I’ve ever met. Here’s why:
A big focus in social work is taking what’s called a “strengths-based approach” to problem solving and working with clients. This means that when someone presents you with a problem, you don’t look at what is “wrong” in this person’s life. Rather, you focus on what resources or strengths they possess and how they can leverage these assets to help themselves. In other words, you help others serve as their own catalyst for positive change.
In focusing on others’ strengths, I often find something about them that I would like to see in myself. I have had the great fortune to be surrounded and supported by an absolutely outstanding network of individuals, and I make a conscious effort to collect bits of wisdom and good habits from each of these people.
Why I love my job:
I get to work with talented, passionate, brilliant and hilarious people in a city I adore for a cause that I am deeply passionate about. Who wouldn’t love that? I really am living the dream.
My connection to public schools:
Until I began my master’s program, every school I had ever attended or worked in was a public school. Growing up, it was always a given that I would go on to attend college and likely pursue some form of post-graduate education. Sadly, this pathway, which should be a right for any student, is a privilege reserved only for those few willing and able to pay for it and lucky enough to grow up in circumstances that afford them these opportunities.
I will never forget the shock of learning that some of my sixth-graders were reading at a second-grade level and were unable to perform basic multiplication or division, and my outrage at this injustice has and will continue to motivate me throughout my career.
What I’m bad at:
Riding a bike. I lost interest after my dad took off the training wheels, probably because I grew up in a house with a steep driveway on a gravel road with no sidewalks. Subsequent attempts by my friends to correct this “deficiency” have proven unsuccessful thus far.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
This is a picture of me and my City Year team at Johnson Middle School. That year changed me, and set me on the trajectory towards a career in education reform. Without my team, I might not have made it through that year.
Students need the support of their entire community to cheer them on as they make their way toward graduation. I want to be that support, and I want to empower others to achieve great results for students just like my team empowered me.