I’m excited to join Health Forward Foundation as its first narrative curator fellow. Through this 18-month fellowship position, I will help the foundation in its goal to transform some of the deep-seated, harmful narratives our region has around health equity, and turn these stories into something that better reflects the racial and health injustices experienced by our communities. I look forward to bringing you stories of your neighbors and your communities in new ways.
My passion is connecting people, organizations, and communities through the art of storytelling. To me, stories are the best way to convey information and feeling and to learn more about others and ourselves. It is the most powerful tool that I have as a marketer and communications professional.
I spent the beginning of my career as a journalist telling the stories of communities and their members. After several years, I moved to higher education marketing and public relations, where I learned even more about strategically crafting messages and stories to fulfill the needs of the various stakeholders at Rockhurst University.
I quickly learned visual storytelling could be a powerful tool in recruitment and fundraising. To stay engaged with our stakeholders and prospective students, we needed to stay current on the latest trends and technologies to take advantage of different platforms and channels to deliver our stories and messaging.
It was also at the university that I developed a greater sense of social justice and a desire to make a difference in Kansas City. Education was transformational in my family’s ability to go from Guatemalan asylum-seekers to home-owning American citizens.
To me, stories are the best way to convey information and feeling and to learn more about others and ourselves.
After a few years, I felt that higher education, in its current form, is neither the only nor the best path for many people to obtain gainful employment and improve their economic situation.
With this belief in mind, I joined Skilled KC, a workforce development organization, to connect people with training that could lead to jobs that paid living wages. During the two-year pilot of the organization, we graduated 40 learners through our training programs and connected dozens of others with training opportunities that could lead to better jobs. Some of our learners came to us making minimum wage and after our training, found jobs that paid around $30 per hour and included benefits.
For many, this was the first time they only had to work one job, which meant they were able to spend more time with family. And with health benefits, they were able to seek health-related services for themselves and for their family — an endeavor almost impossible before. We collected a number of these great stories to share with our community, and further the program’s reach to those who might benefit from skills training.
All of these experiences have led me to Health Forward, where I can use my own skills and talents to influence change in our region.
I truly care about my community and welcome this opportunity to share my expertise to help drive the future of Health Forward Foundation.