The Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy (MNCWTA) would like to introduce Renee Armstrong, our Program Policy Liaison.
- What is your new job title, and what do you do (or will you be doing)? I started at DHS in 2016 as the curriculum development lead, within the Child Welfare Training System. My current role serves as a liaison between the Child Safety, and Permanency division within the Department of Human Services, and the Training Academy to coordinate and support policy to training implementation. I lead the alignment of policy work within MNCWTA and work across our division to ensure current, and accurate policy and practice guidance is integrated into training implementation.
- Tell us about your education and/or work experience prior to joining the MNCWTA. I have a mix of direct and indirect service experiences which have kept me humbled and balanced in the effort to see policy implementation through to it’s most intended and positive outcomes. Toward the end of my undergraduate education at UW - Madison completing a political science degree, I was drawn to the workings of policy and bringing voice and emphasis on the ‘how’ of it being carried out. I served with AmeriCorps VISTA within Minneapolis public schools, and then worked in educational and nonprofit settings for several years including a local shelter for unhoused individuals and as a program director for a statewide national service program focused on engaging youth most at risk in and out of school. During this time I earned dual degrees in public policy and social work, with concentrations in child welfare as a IV-E Scholar, public and nonprofit leadership and management, and community advocacy and organizing. The combination was right fit for me, to be consistently rooted in community engagement, skill development and ever learning about the systems at work to create the policies and processes we live out each day. Training development has been a significant thread in my professional path, and I’m honored to lead in my current role to harness the impact of training in the child welfare field.
- What do you enjoy most about your work? I love working with other driven and passionate people, focused on a common goal while having fun and supporting each other as individuals too; ‘work hard play hard’ isn’t far off from my work style.
- What are you most passionate about professionally? Making a positive impact with a servant leadership approach; utilizing skills I’ve been privileged to build to forward more equitable outcomes for children and families.
- What are you most passionate about personally? Sharing life moments (big and small) with friends and family, and challenging myself to try new things, and experience memorable adventures. Also, the music and legend of Bruce Springsteen.
- What are you surprisingly good at? Reading people, for better or worse. I truly enjoy getting to know people and I have found making connections, learning about others, and being in community with people new or old comes naturally to me.
- What do you like to do outside of work? I love to enjoy the fresh air in all its forms in Minnesota (perhaps outside of sleet!); I feel renewed exploring parks and trails running, biking, skiing, or picnicking. Music is also a great inspiration to me, in many forms; enjoying live music is an experience I hold dear and one I rarely pass up given the opportunity.
- What else should we know about you? I grew up in ‘small town’ central/northern MN, and have traveled internationally in various opportunities. These experiences have shaped how I approach my experiences connecting with people and striving to bring compassion, humility, and equity in my lens and work in the world.