Candidate Statement

Kelly Agee

South Bend, Indiana 

 During your 2+ years of membership in SVN, describe how you have utilized your member benefits. (Networking, training, credential, etc.)

Through an organizational membership with Families First Center, over the last 10+ years, I have reaped many benefits as a member of SVN. Having participated in the 2019 Leadership Institute, I was able to engage and collaborate with other leaders in the field of supervised visitation in order to further the mission our organization, to heal and strengthen families, and to uphold the vision of SVN to help families connect safety.  Earlier in the decade, I participated as a host through Families First Center, for the annual SVN conference held in Indianapolis where I was able to engage with professionals around the globe and expand my knowledge of best practice in supervised visitation.  Our agency, as a whole, has also benefited from utilizing the SVN training guide and online forums to build a team of effective, informed and compassionate visitation supervisors.

Describe your experience in the field of supervised visitation or relevant experience that intersects with the field of supervised visitation.

I began my journey with Families First Center a decade ago as a Visitation Specialist, serving the most vulnerable families in our community.  A couple years later, I transitioned into an administrative role and served our families through my support of our organization’s mission.  After serving as the Director of Administration for several years, I transitioned into the role as the Executive Director of Families First Center where I continue my work to promote positive parenting and safe connections with families

SVN’s vision statement is: “The Supervised Visitation Network champions a world in which all vulnerable families have access to safe and quality visitation services.” Discuss your commitment to better outcomes for families in consideration of racial, cultural, socio-economic, gender equity and ability/disability.

One of my first initiatives as the Director of Families First Center was to be true to our vision and not only respond to families after an incident of child abuse/neglect, but to be more of a presence in our community and reach families as a preventative approach, especially vulnerable families who may not have access to services due to economic and social barriers. 

Our agency has been committed to outreach in our community, aimed at serving our families who face these barriers by offering program in our community to further promote healthy parent-child relationships devoid of neglect and abuse.  In providing these programs, we are bridging a need and anchoring the community to protect its children through safe, effective parenting resources.  Last Spring, we be piloted a program: “Implementing the Zones of Regulation Curriculum: A Preventative Approach against Child Abuse and Neglect, through Emotion-cognitive Self-regulation.” This year, we developed and secured funding for our “New Parent Program”, through a partnership with the University of Notre Dame and the Prevent Child Abuse coalition, which provides concrete resources and parenting education to the at-risk families in our community.  Our goal is to continue to provide free, psychology-based approach to parenting techniques and parenting supplies, for all parent in our community, with a goal to reach the most at-need families in our community.  

What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills, talent and experiences do you have that would most benefit SVN (and ultimately the membership) if elected to the position?

Serving on the SVN board of directors would be an opportunity to support the mission of SVN by upholding the standards, promoting education, and advancing professionalism in the field of supervised visitation. 

While pursuing my degree in Mathematics from the University of Indiana, I served as a mentor to children who were victims of abuse at Bloomington’s domestic violence shelter, Middle Way House.  I found a passion working with children that was a lot different than my love of numbers.  Although I ended up with my degree in Mathematics, I chose to initially pursue a path in child advocacy.  Through the years, I have had professional experiences ranging from teacher to direct care youth worker to business and finance manager to executive director.  Though my roles have changed, my passion for child advocacy has been the main influence in my career path.    

My diverse set of skills and experiences, as both a child advocate and a business leader in the social service profession, would bring a unique perspective to the SVN Board.  While my career path may have been unconventional, it has ultimately contributed to making me a well-rounded, open minded and passionate leader in my industry.  I would enjoy the opportunity to bring my uniqueness and passion to SVN.

Regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, what strategy(s) would you utilize to effectively engage in dialogue with the membership?

It is important to create opportunities for thoughtful dialogue and engagement between SVN members so that we may learn from and support one another effectively. Encouraging mutual respect and deep listening among members fosters a sense of community and creates a space where authentic dialogue can occur.  Creating a strong community, where members feel validated and heard, helps to keep members engaged.  

In what local, national, state, or provincial organizations (coalitions, groups, or task forces) outside of SVN or your current employer are you involved that would enhance the Networks goals?

I am currently a member of the National Society of Human Resources and a member of our local “Michiana” chapter where I served on the board of directors from 2019-2021.  My background in human resources has allowed me to further develop my administrative expertise and communication skills. 

I am also a 2018 graduate of the South Bend/Mishawaka Signature Leadership Program.  During this intensive 9-month program, I had the opportunity to explore my community on a deeper level and network with professionals who share my passion for child advocacy.   Through this program, I was able to collaborate with other professionals to make change in our community and further develop my servant leadership skills.  These are skillsets that I could bring to support the goals of SVN.

Through my membership with “St. Joseph County Cares,” which is a local network of services and supports that identify and meet the needs of families, youth, and children so they may define and reach their potential, I regularly meet with other professionals in the community in order to identify and solve problems related to mental health in our community.  

Through my volunteer experience with “Prevent Child Abuse Michiana,” I have been able work directly with other community members to advocate for funding for programs that support the mission to end child abuse and neglect. I believe that these experiences have allowed me to develop the ability to work effectively with a diverse group of people in order to accomplish a shared vision.