As part of our “Get to Know Groundwork” series, we've been spotlighting members of our amazing team. This week, we’re getting to know Troy Hunter, who joined Groundwork Ohio in July of 2023.
As Director of Research, Evaluation, & Performance Troy oversees the development and integration of the Early Childhood Data Dashboard and provides research and evaluation support across program areas.
Troy’s has spent his career working in early childhood, mental health, and disabilities. Troy is a committed leader in the early childhood space and is dedicated to promoting positive outcomes for young children and their families. Most recently Troy worked as Program Manager of the Ohio State University Nisonger Center’s Early Learning Program and as Social Work Faculty for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities training program. In his role at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, Troy worked to support the inclusion of children receiving early intervention and special education services in general education programming and worked to support trainees in social work practice working in infant and early childhood mental health. Prior to this role, Troy worked as an early intervention provider and social worker supporting the development of children receiving Part C Early Intervention Services.
Troy received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Ohio State University, graduating with a master's degree in social work. Troy is a licensed social worker and Ohio Infant Mental Health Practitioner.
In addition to his role at Groundwork, Troy is a lecturer for The Ohio State University College of Social Work and serves on The Ohio State University College of Social Work Alumni Society Executive Committee. Troy is passionate about his community and serves as a board member for the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children and volunteers as a committee member for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio.
Check out our Q&A with Troy to learn more about why he’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!"
When I started working in early intervention and early childhood mental health as a practitioner, I encountered children and families every day who the system failed. The system felt largely crafted and made for specific populations that many children did not fit into. These children who were in dire need of quality care, education, and support deserved better than what was available to them. That is what drew me to early childhood policy research and advocacy; I could no longer settle for less than these children deserve and wanted to contribute to a more equitable system for all of Ohio’s children.
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?
The best lesson I have learned that has helped me in this work is that children and families are the real experts on what they need. It is easy to get so caught up in the noise surrounding issues in early childhood, that we drown out the voices of the individuals we are trying to help. If we are to truly make an impact, we need to learn to talk less and listen more.
Q: What’s your motivating word for 2023?
My word for 2023 is JUSTICE. This year as we work to make Ohio the best place to be a young child, my goal is to work towards Ohio being the best place to be any young child. That is going to take advocating for justice for all children to be included in that conversation.
Q: When you aren’t advocating on behalf of young children and families, what do you enjoy doing?
I am a doctoral student studying education, so when I am not spending time with my wife, I am reading and writing. My wife and I both enjoy traveling and just recently returned from our wedding in Scotland and a honeymoon in Greece.
Q: Describe a scene from your vision of the future for Ohio’s youngest children and their caregivers.
A mother of three children walks into a child care facility to pick up her child. This mother is relieved because she no longer worries about finding child care that will accept her child who uses adaptive equipment to move around. They are going to go home and spend time together at the park because she doesn’t have to work a second job anymore to pay for child care. The teacher smiles and greets the mother to tell her about her child’s day. This teacher is not stressed because they receive adequate support to meet the needs of their classroom. This teacher no longer worries about paying their bills because they receive a fair and equitable wage. The child is smiling the biggest however, as they look around at the loving supportive caregivers in their life. That child hopes to one day be an early childhood educator and impact the lives of children just like them.