Elections are an opportunity for you to complete a ballot and have your voice heard through your vote. As a career development professional, you can also impact society through your work with individuals who want to make a difference in social change. In this profession, there is the opportunity to inspire and motivate others who are passionate about helping individuals and society. However, the perception to move a passion to a career can be unclear and daunting.
This month, three local change agents from Colorado are sharing their background and current work to inspire you. These individuals were identified because they have varying backgrounds, interests, and aspirations. They have started this conversation to provide insight about the possibilities to engage in change and the first steps towards getting involved.
What is THE topic that personally engaged you in your community?
Heidi: Recently, I was impacted by oil and gas development in a nearby open space, adjacent to homes, schools, and a future drinking water reservoir. There are over a thousand studies pointing to the negative impact of oil and gas development on health, safety, welfare, and the environment that must be taken seriously (Concerned for Social Responsibility, 2018). Little is being done about stopping residential drilling, involving massive mega pads that are harmful and in close proximity to people, land, and water. The reason little is being done is because of the inequality of influence the oil and gas industry has on a city and state, versus the right of the people who are the most vulnerable.
Lacey: I was in 6th grade when the Columbine Shooting happened. The U.S. has gone almost two decades without any real change regarding gun violence prevention and the problem is only getting worse. I joined Moms Demand Action following the Parkland, FL school shooting because my five year old son was about to begin kindergarten. I refuse to be the parent who loses their child to gun violence. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots organization working to reduce gun violence in our country by demanding common sense gun legislation, educating the public about safe gun ownership, and closing loopholes in existing legislation. The non-profit is supported by five million people (mothers and others) in the U.S.
Guyleen: Human Rights. Over the years, this topic has ranged from reproductive freedom to marriage equality and now our right to live in a healthy and safe environment. Growing up, I always wanted to be able to tell the stories that would affect positive change so I started my career as a local news producer. When it became clear that producers do not always write the stories they want to, I transitioned into a marketing and promotions role. After leaving the business world, I volunteered with non-profits and several political campaigns. After I was elected to local office in November 2017, I have navigated this new role of a lot of reading, constant conversation, and the opportunity to make a positive difference in my community.
How can career development professionals support and/or encourage their clients to get involved? What are ideas for the ‘first’ or baby steps a person can take to get involved?
Heidi: Attend city council meeting and invite neighbors over for dinner and find out what they are struggling with. I believe that becoming engaged in your community is really neighboring. Because of my work to impact oil and gas development, I have the opportunity to meet regularly with elected officials to share stories of impacted residents and raise awareness of inequity within the current law structure. Thus, I am able to influence avenues for elected officials to pursue in order to protect their citizens and elevate health and safety above oil and gas operations.
Lacey: As a local group leader for Moms Demand Action, I tell my volunteers to find their "thing." There are so many issues to address and ways that we can influence society and it is easy to become overwhelmed. I think that someone can start with ONE issue and can find that issue by asking: what do you rant and rave about on social media? What issue directly impacts your life or livelihood? Pick that one thing and champion it. Learn everything you can about that topic and find out who is already fighting the fight. Ask them how to get involved, take their advice, and then lift hard for that issue. Finally, trust that there are people just like you championing the other issues you care about; support those people and let them do the heavy lifting for those issues.
Guyleen: Reassure your clients that it is never too late to change your mind and go in a completely different direction. I think we were meant to evolve and try new things. It definitely keeps things interesting.
Why is it important to be involved in social change on the local level?
Heidi: We find that, more and more, the change happens locally and "trickles up." All too often, our elected officials at the state level do not have their ears to the ground. By engaging locally, inviting neighbors over for dinner, and attending city council meetings and even state legislative hearings, you can be a voice for your neighbor.
Lacey: Being involved at the local level strengthens the fabric of our culture. By becoming involved with a cause, my network of close friends, acquaintances, and business connections has exploded faster than I can keep up. I have surrounded myself with like-minded people, many of whom are in positions of power, which certainly comes in handy when furthering my cause. More importantly these people have become my friends with whom I gain positive reinforcement, thus boosting my self-esteem, self-worth, and personal beliefs. I am invested in these people and wish to see them succeed and lead happy lives. Our sense of community is strengthened when we are invested in the collective. Our children see these results and mimic them as well.
Guyleen: Volunteering is important! Find something you are passionate about and ask how you can be of service. There are so many ways to get involved in our community; Social media, NextDoor, Meetup Groups make it so much easier to find like-minded folks who share your passion.
Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility (March, 2018). Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction). Retrieved from:
Heidi Henkel earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Baylor University and a Secondary Science Teaching degree from Colorado State University. Heidi taught high school science and math and traveled the U.S. with her husband who served as an Army Officer. Her career has consisted of owning a math tutoring company and serving as the Director of Communications for a local church. She founded a local active moms group and volunteers her time and influence to make an influence on oil and gas development. Heidi can be reached at: email@example.com.
Lacey McGinty earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado. She worked retail for several years, dabbled in Technical Recruiting, and eventually transitioned to a stay at home mom. She also owned a successful home business for several years and is the Broomfield Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action. Lacey can be reached at: Lacey.firstname.lastname@example.org
Guyleen Castriotta is a City Council member for Broomfield, CO. She earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of New Orleans. She worked in the entertainment marketing sector for 15 years before pursuing a more gratifying path volunteering for a Women’s’ Shelter in Downtown Los Angeles. Guyleen can be reached at: email@example.com
Cori Shaff serves as the Senior Assistant Director for Career Development for Career Services at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She earned her B.A. in Communication from CU Boulder, a master’s degree in career counseling from Colorado State, and is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. Cori is a featured presenter for the National Career Development Association, co-associate editor for Career Convergence, and has consulted with a variety of organizations. Cori is a proud Broomfield, Colorado resident and volunteers to enhance her community. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org