Vanessa joined Ampersand Families as a Permanency Specialist in 2018. In addition to supporting youth and families on their journeys toward permanency, she also provides assessments with the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) to help youth, families, and caregivers gain additional tools for healing from developmental trauma.
Vanessa graduated with a Master of Social Work from Augsburg University in 2012. Since entering the field of social work, she has helped individuals experiencing homelessness find and maintain permanent housing, and has provided case management and treatment services to people with mental health diagnoses or experiencing mental health crises. Vanessa is passionate about advocating for individuals and families on both the individual and systems levels, and engages in public policy advocacy and social justice work whenever she can.
Vanessa is excited to be a part of the Ampersand Families team to advocate and support youth and families as they work toward permanency and healing, while also challenging the ways that the child welfare system perpetuates inequities for youth and families of color and other marginalized identities. She approaches her work with an attitude of curiosity, an open mind, and empathy.
In her free time, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, friends, dog, and three cats. Vanessa also fosters kittens with a local cat rescue organization, and loves cuddling and playing with kittens while watching them grow. Vanessa’s bachelor’s degree was in music, and she still enjoys playing and writing music. She plays various instruments, including oboe, flute, guitar, ukulele, and voice. She is continuously awed by the healing power of music, and hopes to further explore the role of music in healing from trauma.
The mission of Ampersand Families is to provide permanency and adoption services to older youth and families who face barriers to equity in child welfare, and to champion systemic changes that advance belonging, dignity and hope.