Each week, the #SpanningtheNeed podcast will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured is Rona Curtis from Mahoning County Children Services. Nominate someone now Nominate someone now.
Name: Rona Curtis
Occupation: Child Welfare Administrator
Position: Assistant Director
Organization: Mahoning County Children Services
Ms. Curtis has been in the social services field for over 40 years, Early in her career, she served as a crisis counselor, volunteer coordinator and children’s therapeutic program coordinator for Battered Person Crisis Center, and a Student Assistant at Youngstown State University.
In 1985, Ms. Curtis began her child welfare career as caseworker, was promoted to supervision in 1987, and subsequently to Program Administrator for the Family Services Department at MCCS in 2011. She has been an advocate for children and families for over 37 years. Ms. Curtis has numerous years of progressive leadership and organizational development.
Ms. Curtis coordinates the development, planning, implementation, and monitoring of direct service programs; operational policies and procedures; analyzes data, provides oversight for agency accreditation, and monitors compliance with accreditation standards.
Ms. Curtis has past and current affiliations on several advisory boards in the surrounding community. She values her work and advocacy with Infant Mortality, Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence, and Human Trafficking prevention. Ms. Curtis was appointed by Mayor Jamael “Tito” Brown to the Youngstown Foundation, where she is a member of the Distribution Committee.
She is a lifelong member to the Alpha & Omega First Baptist Church. She was elected the first female chairperson for the Board of Trustees. She currently serves on the Executive Board, Trustee Board, and Usher’s Ministry.
Ms. Curtis is a graduate of Ursuline High School and two-time alumna of Youngstown State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Science in Education degree.
What made you want to go into this field?
As a child, I watched my mom work with and help people in our neighborhood and community center. It didn’t matter who they were, what they looked like, where they came from, or the situation or circumstance they found themselves in. As I got older the term “social work” had a meaning I could relate to. I witnessed genuine social work in-action and it became my passion.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way?
I wouldn’t consider it a mistake, but more like a semi-regret…and that was not going to law school.
What is the hardest decision you ever had to make in this field?
When working in a difficult and tough field, tough decisions are inevitable. As a last alternative, the decision to remove a child from their home is never easy.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession?
Actually, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What inspires you to do good in our community?
I remember those who sacrificed and inspired me. It would be unfair and selfish not to pass it on. If we don’t invest and take care of our own community, we can’t expect others to.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering in our community?
When given the opportunity to impact the lives of others, even in the slightest way, it really does provide me a sense of purpose. I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new adventures.
What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
“Never Give Up” by Yolanda Adams
What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?
My best experiences in life have been in the role of a daughter, a sister, an auntie, and as a friend.
Who is your role model and Why?
My mom has always been my role model. She established the foundation for me to grow and develop into the person I am today. She led by example.
If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present and why?
Denzel Washington. He has always been my favorite actor. What he does on screen and on Broadway is amazing, but what he does off screen is as important and impactful.
A favorite quote that you live by?
Let your presence have a positive purpose.