Karen Heyward-West, Director of Homesharing was recently recognized by the Daily Record as one of Maryland's Top 100 Women
for 2016. The highly accomplished list of honorees are leaders across sectors and communities. St. Ambrose gives a warm congratulations to all of this year's nominees. Below is an interview with our own award recipient, Karen Heyward-West.
One of the categories for an honoree is being recognized for mentorship. What is your advice to young women who are interested in being leaders in the the non-profit or human services field?
The first thing I always say is you have to check in with yourself often to make sure it's still your passion. Whether you're advocating
for the environment, for young people, or for families, you always have to ask yourself: Are you passionate about what you're doing?
As one of Maryland's top 100 women, you're in good company! On the list of fellow nominees, who is someone you really respect and why?
There are so many! On the present list, I'd have to say my sorority sister Sharonne Bonardi, Deputy Comptroller of the state of Maryland. Shes' the first African American to hold the position and her story about how she moved up the ranks in the Department is really inspiring. Working in such a male dominated field and being the first African American in her position, she faced so many challenges, but she really committed to her job, not for herself, but for the women who came after her. As a public servant it's not about you, and I really admire her commitment to being a leader for women in her field.
Of previous nominees, I would say Margaret Williams, of The Maryland Family Network. She's been out there for more than 30 years fighting the fight to support young families, and she's grown the network from just a few centers to many.
In your opinion, what makes Homesharing such a great program for the community?
I think because it's unique and obtainable. There are not several hoops to jump through or waiting lists to get on- there's a beginning, middle, and end all in the near future. We've placed people in a week, we've place people in 3 days. It's an obtainable solution to the lack of affordable housing. It's real.
What is the best part about being the Director of Homesharing?
The best part of this position is being a part of change. This position allows me to effect change in people's lives and spread the good news about the outcomes of the program. Homesharing really is the best kept secret, but I get to help share what Homesharing can do for an individual and for a community.