“All the youth I’ve worked with have challenged me to grow as an advocate.”
Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Education: BS, Sociology and Public Policy and Administration, University of Tennessee in Chattanooga
BA, International Studies, University of Tennessee in Chattanooga
M.Ed., Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Known around the office As: Party planner extraordinaire and resident baker
Recognized by: Her set of professional pearls
LaShunda is always looking for the connections, thinking about how various spheres and systems interact in a child’s life. She identifies as much as a child advocate as a state coordinator, volunteering at YouthBuild Public Charter School in D.C. and lighting up with passion when discussing how our country deals with children in need.
“We need to ignore the ‘silos’” she says, “and start looking at the interactions—between mental health, social work, delinquency and justice prevention, educational policy, and family engagement.”
Before joining the CFSY in 2012, LaShunda worked as a counselor with Youth Villages, a nonprofit that helps children, young people and families through intensive in-home services, transitional living services, and residential treatment campuses.
Her move to the CFSY was a natural expansion of her previous experiences. While at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, LaShunda worked with a teen whom she affectionately refers to as “Mr. Tough.” This youth, who was on probation, was suspended from school for throwing a piece of paper across his classroom. When he went to court for violation of probation, the judge took one look at him and said there was no hope for him to change and that he was headed back to jail. He was only about 15 years old. Mr. Tough broke down and cried, a moment that LaShunda says ignited the fire within her.
“I realized that the systems in his life weren’t helping him,” she said. From there she found herself interested in work that leads to broader change.
LaShunda likes to unwind by watching episodes of Star Trek. “People are always surprised by my love of Star Trek and all things Sci Fi,” she admits. “I would go to conventions dressed as Seven of Nine if I weren’t so worried about what my family would think.”