Learn more about Shannon Townsend, a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist at Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy!

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What is your job title, and what will you be doing?     

My title is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion specialist. I will be working alongside our amazing DEI team at MNCWTA helping to provide support, direction, and coordination of DEI training, coaching, and development. 

Tell us about your education and/or work experience prior to joining the MNCWTA. 

Before coming to DHS, I spent almost seven years working for the Minnesota Judicial Branch in their Learning and Development and DEI divisions, and I was an active part of the Racial Equity Strategic Leadership Team and the Equal Justice Committee.  During this time I also certified as an Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator as well as a facilitator for Everything DiSC EQ and several Franklin Covey courses focused on leadership and trust.

How long have you been working in your field? 

I've been in both Learning & Development and DEI spaces for well over a decade. 

What do you enjoy most about your work? 

I think what I enjoy the most is helping people, whether it means helping them see a different paradigm or just simply giving an ear and a space to listen.  I'm a big fan of Dylan Marron and his approach of 'empathy is not endorsement' has changed so much of how I move through this work.

What are you most passionate about professionally?   

Helping to build lasting learning cultures that flow through challenge and change.  

What are you most passionate about personally?

Continually challenging myself to grow and learn in every way possible. I'm a lifelong learner and know that there is always something new to challenge myself with!

What are you surprisingly good at? (or what do you wish you were good at)?

Facilitating or presenting with little to no prep time!  I've spent a lot of time on the stage in the past through theatre and it helped me learn to roll with the flow of emergencies when they happen.  

What do you like to do outside of work? 

I love taking care of our cats (all four of them!) with my spouse, playing games, traveling to Disney or cruising, and volunteering at veterinary clinics through North Minneapolis Pet Resource Center when I can.  

What else should we know about you?

I'm trying to learn Japanese, so if you speak any, feel free to come say こんにちは!