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Rekah Strong (MSW '02)
Rekah Strong (MSW '02)

Rekah graduated from PSU with an undergraduate degree in Administration of Justice in 1997. Her father is a social worker and she idolized him and his work. So, while working at U.S. Bank, she took some social work classes and attended a brown bag session at the School to prepare her for a MSW. She took a temporary job at the state working with children and families and was admitted to the program.

Rekahs' concentration was Social Service Administration and Leadership. She already had experience in direct human services and wanted to be exposed to management. Her first field placement was at Volunteers of America, in which she wrote a program to mentor parents with children in the welfare system. She appreciated her experience at VOA because she was exposed to grant writing, organizational policies, and procedures, and she had a chance to make a difference.

Her advanced placement was in child welfare in adoption services and certification and upon graduation she worked in child welfare for 8 years. Five of those years she worked as a case worker. She was very gratified the day she received a call from VOA asking her if she had any parents she was working with who might benefit from joining a mentoring group.

Rekah worked her way up in child welfare into a trainer position and then as a manager of a teen unit. It was in that position that spring-boarded into a collaboration with African American managers and Jerry Burns, Director of DHS in Multnomah County, to increase the diversity of the DHS work force and improve culturally competent service delivery. This collaboration led to the development of the Recruitment and Relations Manager position. The function of this position is to work with DHS offices in the tri-county area to address internal structures and systems to improve inter-cultural communication and identify opportunities to make the organization more inclusive for clients and employees.

"If our internal processes were improved, we would do a better job serving our clients, and that is what it is all about." Rekah worked in this position for about two years before moving to Clark County. She now works within the County to improve Organizational Practices regarding diversity and inclusiveness. She addresses all ways in which the County can build organizationally including systemic and policy changes, employment opportunities and recruitment, media announcements, partnerships, customer service and more.

Rekah enjoys her work immensely and relies on her training as a social worker on a daily basis. "I use all of the skills I learned at PSU in conflict resolution, human behavior, environmental assessment, motivating and empowering people to change - these are the fundamental skills of a social worker."