Meet the Team Working on Policy & Advocacy and Community Engagement

KConnect is excited to announce that Dr. Shayla Young has joined the backbone team as our Postdoctoral Fellow. Her commitment to education and the opportunity afforded to her through the Gates Foundation as a Gates Millennium Scholar led Shayla to obtain her terminal degree from Michigan State University in Educational Leadership and Administration in 2020. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Educational Leadership and Administration from Purdue University.

Previously, Shayla served as the Director for the T2C Studio: Grand Rapids Center for College Success, a place-based response established by the To College, Through College Initiative. Shayla has also served as the co-chair for KConnect’s High School to Career Workgroup. At the most recent ELO Network Awards, Shayla received the 2022 Champion for Quality Award for her work with TCTC. Currently, Shayla is an adjunct instructor at Michigan State University, where she advocates for increased support for Grand Rapids Public School graduates attending MSU. Additionally, she is a contributing community partner to the University’s development of a peer review process for an undergraduate studies course. Her growing expertise is rooted in elevating students’ voices and needs, incorporating community perspective into academia, and creating active partnerships with collective responsibility.
During her first year, Dr. Young will be building the infrastructure around the Policy & Advocacy and Community Engagement workgroups now that co-chairs have been identified. Year two will consist of Dr. Young operationalizing the newly-developed framework and recruiting additional members.
In leading this work, we’ve asked two individuals to act as the co-chairs to the new Policy and Advocacy Workgroup which will focus on empowering the KConnect network to educate and advocate for policies that improve equitable outcomes. We’d like to introduce Kathleen Bruinsma from McShane & Bowie and John Helmholdt from Seyferth PR, as co-chairs.
In addition to the Policy and Advocacy workgroup, we’re also building capacity for our Community Engagement Workgroup. We’d like to introduce the co-chairs for that group – Steff Rosalez, Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities and Eric Freeman, Mindset Meals.
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