We are pleased to announce a new arrival to our consulting team. Lindsay Anderson, holds a master’s degree in social work and is pursuing a PhD in Organizational Leadership and Policy Development from the University of Minnesota. Lindsay brings over 10 years of experience in direct practice working in health and human services.
Tell us about your background in social work and the areas(s) where you feel you’ve had the greatest impact.
Most of my background in social work is in mental health. I’ve worked as a mental health therapist, doing direct practice therapy in both the clinic and shelter setting with those living in homelessness. I’ve also done school-based therapy with at-risk youth and families. My “side work” is working as a group fitness instructor—there’s a connection between the mind and body and we know there is a lot of stress reduction in practicing mindfulness techniques. I’ve found that when people are in crisis there isn’t always time to talk about mental health—they’re just trying to survive in the moment. Working with people to manage stress and manage emotions during stressful times can help them move through it.
Why are you drawn to this work?
There’s a sense of community and resilience that people have. Social work is a profession of strengths-based perspectives: We work with people where they are and with what they have–their personal strengths—that’s why I’m drawn to this field. Our focus is on building up what people already have. That’s how I feel people should be treated, especially those who are in a stressful situation. I’ve always known I wanted to do work that has a larger purpose, that makes an impact, and at the end of the day I know I’ve done my best. Social work is a really good way to do that.
Tell me about your role as a research assistant at the Extension Center for Youth Development?
I’m focused on social welfare-related projects. I am on the Center’s evaluation team, assessing 4-H youth development programs throughout the state, how they’re implemented, and the related outcomes. It’s great work: really fun, positive, and strengths focused.
What influenced your decision to pursue a PhD?
As I was working in direct practice I felt I was making positive, meaningful contributions but I hoped there would be a way to make a larger impact in the programming piece of the entire community. Initially, I went into the social work program with a minor in Organizational Leadership and Policy Development (OLPD). However, I realized pursuing a PhD in social welfare research would mean I would end up working at a university teaching and doing research for other academics. While that’s an important form of knowledge, I wanted to be more connected to community while doing research so I switched programs and moved into OLPD evaluation work.
What kind of client work will you be doing with SCC?
The projects I’ve been working on so far have been evaluation focused. I’m creating logic models, looking at program theory and the outcomes we hope to attain and the strategies that will help us get there. Part of the work I’m engaged in is analyzing how a client is meeting its intended objectives and the impact it’s having. Most of the clients I’ve worked with so far are social services agencies or organizations that are providing social programming.
What are your goals following the completion of your PhD?
Work like this (with SCC) is exactly what I want to do—work with agencies and communities to identify needs and facilitate social change whether it’s working at one organization as an internal evaluator or continuing to work as an external evaluator. It’s nice to connect with a variety of organizations and agencies in the community. I want to stay connected with social programming and contribute to social change in some capacity.