Over the next few weeks, Groundwork Ohio is publishing a “Get to Know Groundwork” series, spotlighting members of our amazing team! This week, we’re getting to know Kelsey E. Hopkins, Groundwork's Prenatal-to-Three Manager. Kelsey joined the Groundwork team in September 2020.
As Groundwork Ohio’s Prenatal-to-Three Manager, Kelsey works to elevate the organization’s prenatal-to-3 policy priorities and provides targeted support to Groundwork’s engagement with stakeholders, policy research, and advocacy efforts. Since joining Groundwork, she has supported research and advocacy through the elevation of maternal and young child healthy development; infant and early childhood mental health; and the Groundwork Ohio Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship. Kelsey also currently serves as the Statewide Coordinator for the Ohio Safe Babies Court Team expansion project.
Prior to joining Groundwork, Kelsey served as an afterschool program coordinator for various organizations, as well as a program assistant for the I Am My Brother’s Keeper program operated by Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Most recently, she served as the Legislative Aide to former Ohio State Representative Erica C. Crawley.
Kelsey holds dual Master’s degrees from The Ohio State University in Social Work and Public Administration.
Check out our Q&A with Kelsey to learn more about why she’s a passionate advocate for young children and families in Ohio!
Q: What drew you to early childhood policy research and advocacy? Tell us more about your “why”!
A: My why for advocacy has always come from a young girl who was in my life when I was growing up. She was in a tough situation and ended up going through multiple adoptions. After witnessing her situation, I knew I wanted to advocate for children who didn’t always have the best circumstances to have as great a life as possible.
Beyond that, I’ve enjoyed working with children since high school, but I never knew exactly how I wanted to make that into a career for myself. I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher and even though I started my graduate education in social work I knew I wasn’t interested in being a case worker. When I began exploring policy through the Social Work program, prior to fully joining the Public Administration program, I fell in love with policy and from then on, I knew I wanted to merge policy and education. Most of my academic projects and career opportunities were centered around education and social justice. One thing led to another, and I arrived at Groundwork focusing on early childhood policy and advocacy.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received or a lesson that you’ve learned that has helped you in this work?
A: Although it may sound cliché, the lesson I’ve learned that has helped me in this work comes from the Desmond Tutu quote, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” In doing this work, I’ve learned that although some wins may seem small and sometimes even insignificant, each small win contributes to a better Ohio for young kids and their families.
Q: Groundwork Ohio’s word for 2022 is ELEVATE. What’s your word for 2022?
A: Rather than a word, I have a phrase for 2022 and it’s, “Do the things you told yourself you couldn’t do.” One of my goals for 2022 is to challenge myself and my thinking.
Q: When you aren’t advocating on behalf of young children and families, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, volunteering with my church, watching football (especially Ohio State), and being outside.
Q: Describe a scene from your vision of the future for Ohio’s youngest children and their caregivers.
A: I would love to see all of Ohio’s youngest children in happy, healthy homes and their families and caregivers having all the resources they need to be successful for themselves and the children in their lives!