Jessi came to Ampersand in July of 2021. She has strong connections to the University of Minnesota where she did her undergraduate work in Youth Studies, Child Psychology, and Educational Psychology, completed a Master’s of Education in Youth Development Leadership, and has taught as a Community Faculty for the School of Social Work’s Youth Studies Program since 2007. Over the past 20+ years, Jessi has curated an eclectic blend of treasured professional experiences as a youth worker, program director, and facilitator working for both youth serving organizations in the Twin Cities and Minneapolis Public Schools.
While her vocational calling has been rich and deep, when she and her wife were chosen to adopt a sibling group of four children, it quickly became clear their attachment and healing would require some big vocational shifts. Jessi continued to teach, consult and perform as a trainer part-time, and shifted her full-time role to that of an advocate and therapeutic parent for 10 years. As they have forged a path as a transracial family, they have worked to deepened their commitments to racial justice and ending White Supremacy. As an adoptive family, they have learned to navigate educational, mental health, and governmental systems as a matter of day to day survival. Jessi is deeply grateful for the opportunities to learn and grow that the lived experience as an adoptive parent has presented her. The opportunity to combine her vocational and lived experiences to support youth and families at Ampersand is a dream come true.
When she’s not at work, you’re most likely to find Jessi in her minivan listening to an audio book while running teenagers to and from school, work, horseback riding, volleyball, football, baseball, play practice, dirt bike riding, cooking class, Dungeons and Dragons, FiveBelow, swimming, 4H, dog training, the mall, a friend’s house, or just back home for the third time to get their lunch and a pair of socks that were forgotten on the counter. Once in a while you might also catch her working with her wife on their “tiny cabin” in Wisconsin, walking her dogs, trying to ger her cat out of a tree, or going out to dinner with other adoptive parents.
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.