September 22, 2020 | Comments Off on Employee Spotlight – Kawanna Willis
Kawanna Willis is the program manager of our Liberty Day Treatment program.
She has over 10 years of experience working in mental and behavioral health and her clients’ success stories have been featured during our Celebrating Our Kids event, in an impact video, and on the web.
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Willis has always gravitated toward community work and outreach. She was drawn to behavioral health after realizing the tremendous need for services in the African American community as well as how the stigmas associated with mental health impact this community in two ways: accessing services and receiving quality care. Addressing and understanding the community barriers that parents and even clients face are key components in helping her tailor the program to encourage engagement from everyone in order to meet to goals of the kids.
In her career, Kawanna has been able to work with a variety of community-based programs including Intensive In-Home and two programs supporting youth in foster care. However, her most rewarding experiences thus far have been with the Liberty Day Treatment program.
“Taking the vision of Alexander and being able to recreate the NMT model with my kids and my staff has been super rewarding.”
At the same time, Willis mentioned that opening the program was challenging. For her, there was a learning curve of adapting to the NMT relationship-based model that Alexander uses. Previously trained in behavioral modification, she had to rethink her own mantra of therapy and quickly bought into the Alexander Model of Care. She notes that over the years it has been exciting to find innovative ways to connect with the kids and staff to gain trust and build progress in treatment.
While a lot has changed at Alexander and at Liberty over the past few months due to the pandemic, Willis contributes much of the success of her program and the kids to her staff. Working as a unified team, the program QP and therapist were always able to manage the classroom and encouraging participation, giving Willis time to focus on administrative tasks and program planning. This mimics the culture of Alexander in supporting each other across different service lines and different positions.
“Everyone at Alexander offers loads of support. They are also flexible in letting you move around to find your niche… not only where you will succeed but where you can do the most to help the kids too.”
This past summer, Kawanna passed her clinical exam to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She hopes with being licensed she will be able to transition to a more clinical role in guiding and managing treatment in community-based programs. Kawanna is continually searching for new ways to learn and educate herself in the field. As a voice for her community, she is dedicated to challenging herself to do as much as she can for others.
Kawanna Willis is originally from Greensboro, NC and now lives in Winston –Salem with her husband and dog. Both are active in their community and with their family. She hopes to take an extended staycation in the near future and skydive.
Written by Emily Gordon.