New episodes of Building Our Future's podcast, Together, We're Better, have dropped!
In episode 7 of Together, We’re Better, Community Engagement Manager Brandon Morris talks with our local Parent Advocates and our partners from the Wisconsin Partnership – a collaborative effort of the four StriveTogether-affiliated local collective impact partnerships in Wisconsin, about how parents can lead change in their communities, specifically for early childhood care and education. Featured in this episode are Parents Advocate for Child Care (PACC) Fellows: Ashley Wells, Genevieve Gerou and Patrick Langston.
One parent advocate, Ashley Wells, explains how the PACC Fellowship equipped her with the necessary skills to confidently speak with her elected representatives and inspire other parents to use their power as a parent to make changes.
In episode 8 of Together, We're Better, learn about the origin of Building Our Future and how the partnership has evolved over the past five years. The latest episode features Jean Moran, retired CEO of LMI Packaging, Todd Battle, president of Kenosha Area Business Alliance and Tatjana Bicanin, executive director of BOF as they walk down memory lane on how Building Our Future became the first collective impact initiative in Kenosha County to address social and educational outcomes in Kenosha County.
My personal mission statement is “Create safe places for people to live into their genius.” Building Our Future’s work speaks to that. In my life, I am most grateful for those who provide a safe place for me to be all I can be.
I believe everyone has a unique genius and, with the right support and hard work, they can live into it, making the positive impact our world needs.
My soul aches when I think of the child, capable of making the next major medical breakthrough but, because of circumstances out of their control, they will never get the chance. I am driven by joy when I think of my father, a high school dropout, who had a community that saw something in him he could not, supporting him in building a successful company that has made a positive difference for many.
Coming to Kenosha has been a blessing for me, my family, and our business. I am grateful to those who came before and had a grand vision for our future and I do not take their hard work and civic responsibility for granted.
In previous generations, they saw a need for a bank, a hospital, a social security office, a business park, and on and on, so they built them. They had full lives but made the time to take on a bigger, community-focused vision that included more than their personal success.
Building Our Future is a vision for the next generation. Too many of our children are falling through the cracks, and it affects every one of us. It affects the future and will take an entire community committing to change. Schools can’t do it alone.
For me, Building Our Future is a way to pay forward the blessings I have been given by this community. It is a way for Kenosha County to be all it can be.
A thriving future will require the genius of every child, and we must create an infrastructure that provides for that.
The vision “EVERYONE ACHIEVING PERSONAL POTENTIAL CRADLE TO CAREER” is a real possibility. For me, it’s a vision worth spending the rest of my life on.
In the words of Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Building Our Future is pleased to introduce Tatjana Bicanin as the partnership’s new Executive Director, bringing a unique balance of mission focus, strategic depth, and steadiness to the team.
Her initial reaction to Building Our Future was excitement. “I was encouraged by past and new colleagues to learn about Kenosha’s first cradle to career collective impact effort focused on education and workforce development. I was instantly excited about the work,” said Tatjana. Her relationship with Building Our Future started in 2016 when she attended the Kenosha Strive Community Summit held at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Shortly thereafter, she was hired as Community Impact Manager, facilitating the Smart Beginnings (formerly known as Kindergarten Readiness) Action Network and Community Engagement Network. Before becoming Executive Director, she was the Director of Operations, providing oversight to the daily operations, staff development, and strategic effort to lead the partnership goals: (1) Every child enters school ready to learn, (2) Every student succeeds in school, and (3) Every student succeeds in a career.
Tatjana has over 14 years of experience in the non-profit sector, both domestic and international, including serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean. In her past roles, she developed strong working relationships with leaders in business and the non-profit community to effect social change to benefit the common good – our students, our families and our neighborhoods. Through this work, she has become convinced that the most effective way to address issues of equity requires a focus on our children, especially those that come from economically disadvantaged families.
“I am eager to advance the cradle to career success of Kenosha County youth,” she says. “Placing children at the center is critical to ensuring all children have the opportunities they need to achieve their personal potential from cradle to career.”
Tatjana is a native of Kenosha. She received her B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Parkside and holds an M.A. from The University of Chicago in Social Service Administration. Her passion and commitment to Building Our Future, coupled with her knowledge of the work and community, enables her to plan more effectively for the future, expand our outcome areas, and continue to strengthen our relationships with community leaders from all sectors — which includes our youth and parents of Kenosha County.
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Article written by Megan Maurer
Published in Kenosha News