Photos by Jason Huynh
Q1: What is your connection to Rome and Floyd County? How have you been involved with nonprofits/helping others in the community?
LC: I’m from Rockmart, Georgia; but from the time I was 10 or 11, I was a member at a local church here. So…everything I did with my best friends growing up was in Rome; we were here Monday through Sunday.
Then I guess we can go back to when I graduated from Columbus State University. And my first job out of college was here in Rome, back in 2006, at the Floyd County Health Department. I was the Health Educator for the Teen Center. I was in the schools, I was in the Detention Center, the Open Door Home, in churches; anywhere in the community where people wanted me to talk to their teenagers about life skills. Life Skills is my baby. I love Life Skills…I feel like you have to know how to manage your time, you have to know how to do all those kinds of things. So I was in that position for about three years, but since I was in the schools every day, I thought that I might as well go back to school and be a teacher. So I started working on my Master’s degree, and for three years I worked with severe emotional behavioral disorder students…I wanted to help them get from where they are to where they needed to be. And then I got laid off in 2008 when the financial crunch came…but the fortunate thing about that was that I had never left the Teen Center. I was the contract Health Educator. So I left being a teacher and went right back into being the Public Health Educator. I did that for a while…then I kind of took a shift…so I become Emergency Preparedness Training Coordinator for Public Health. I was there for five years. And I really missed working with teens; that’s my passion. So I started my own business, Pinnacle Developmental Services where I (still do) provide life skills services and life skills consulting.
Q2: For People who don’t know, What is the mission and goals of the comission?
LC: I can give you two words to explain it: partnering to empower. We want to partner with our families, with our children, in order to empower our community through advocacy. We want to be able to advocate for them. We want to be able to help them bring about change. We want to change the philosophy “let’s just put a bandaid on this” to “let’s lead you to water, and you get to the water, and then you drink.”
And that’s really a hashtag I’m going to start using with our social media campaign (#partneringtoempower), because we partner with so many youth-serving agencies in Rome to help their endeavors. But we’re all a conglomerate with one mission in mind.
Q3: What lead you to become the new Executive Director of the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth?
LC: In 2015, I became a board member for the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth. And that’s what really I loved doing: serving the community, helping the children, helping the team.
Then….I was invited to the Family Connection Partnership Conference by the retiring Executive Director, Carol Willis, this past October. And you know, every time you leave a conference, you’re fired up and ready to go. And it didn’t leave me….I saw how much everybody there is doing it for the children and their community. And they want their community to thrive. On the way back home from the conference, I could see myself getting deeply involved, even more than I’d been. I have a lot of creative ideas, and I want our commission to go to a different level. When Carol decided to retire, I decided that it was time for a new challenge. I’m really excited about this new opportunity! I think it’s time for us to use the wisdom that’s on the board; but I also think it’s time for us to bring some creative, inventive ideas that will help our ever-changing community.
Q4: What will you be focusing on as you take on this new role at the commission?
LC: You know, we have a five-year plan. There are different benchmarks that we’re working on. And I think something that we’re still going to focus on is fostering because of child abuse and neglect.
But one of the directions that we’re going to go in…is childhood literacy. With me having a three-year-old, I can see the importance of starting literacy for your child at a very young age…in order to increase high school graduation rates. Let’s start at the core, which goes back to the basics, to life skills. You have to start at the beginning. You can’t but a bandaid on something that already has a wound. [You have to] ask: “What’s causing this infection?”
I can give you a simple story: when I was young, my grandmother would read romance novels, and then she would give them to my mom. And I saw my mom reading, so I wanted to read….And my dad, when we went on vacation…we would have spelling word contests, and he would give me a quarter for every word I spelled correctly. My family from the beginning has been a foundation for me for reading and spelling. Now I’m an avid reader, and I’m a great speller. So even if you have parents that don’t necessarily read, you have to figure out how to close that gap and encourage our families.
Q5: What can everyday citizens of Rome and Floyd County do to support the commission?
LC: Be involved where you are. So if there is a child, a youth, a family that is around you; the best thing I can say is “be the change that they want to see.” You be that light. You may not be hands-on involved with [our commission], but for that moment that you’re in the presence of a child…let’s communicate with that child. Obviously with the parents’ permission, but just be that light in the child’s life, in a teenager’s life. Become a mentor. Do simple things differently. Simple things can change the direction of a child’s life.