Chanel is drawn to work that involves advocacy and empowerment. In her current role as Early Childhood Community Liaison – which she began in April 2019 – Chanel is currently working with various stakeholders in Richmond’s East End to identify, document, and track challenges within the early childhood framework with a goal to decrease or remove these challenges through systems and policy changes.
In communities with high percentages of poverty – and in some cases concentrated poverty – high risk families face steep challenges to find their footing to success. The circumstances they are born into often require that their needs for assistance are complex, involving multiple service systems and sectors. The service systems that have been created to assist them are siloed, insufficient, and are administered by staff who themselves may be in circumstances of distress, trauma, and/or positions of bias toward those they are meant to serve.
In her work, Chanel leverages the knowledge, varied experiences, and insights of family coaches/advocates already on the ground, as well as other partners, to identify specific barriers faced by struggling families who are attempting to negotiate the complex bureaucratic system. Once barriers are identified, solutions to removing these barriers are sought by working with local and state level policy makers, program administrators, businesses, and philanthropic entities. The overarching goal is to better support thriving children and families by improving service systems so that these systems may better and more efficiently serve the families that depend upon them.
Research, equity, advocacy and early childhood have been an ongoing theme of interest for Chanel in her career. She has served as a researcher for Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health’s Engaging Richmond team, worked as a facilitator of the Richmond Promise Neighborhood Early Childhood Education Action Team, and has participated as a board member for Peter Paul, Richmond Promise Neighborhood, YMCA and the Maggie Walker Citizen’s Advisory Board.