Racialized violence can be scary and confusing for kids. The recent murder of Tyre Nichols and following media coverage and exposure may have the children in your life asking questions or feeling powerful emotions. As caregivers it’s important for us to talk with our children to help them process their feelings and what happened, but how can we do that if we feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable ourselves? Check out some helpful tips to help you feel prepared and in control of your emotions when talking with kids about racialized violence.
Starfish announces selection of next CEO!
We are so honored to announce the next CEO of Starfish Family Services! Following a national search, unanimous approval from the search committee, and enthusiastic support from the Board of Directors – Roxanne Brinkerhoff has been named the incoming Chief Executive Officer. She will begin her role on January 17, 2023.
For more than 20 years, Brinkerhoff has brought significant leadership to children-focused nonprofits. Roxanne is the out-going CEO of Detroit Institute for Children and a past executive at The Guidance Center, a strong and collaborative partner to Starfish. Brinkerhoff considers outgoing Starfish CEO, Ann Kalass, a mentor and the two have worked in partnership in the community for more than a decade.
“I am incredibly honored to welcome Roxanne to the CEO role at Starfish,” Kalass shared. “I have witnessed Roxanne to be an unrelenting advocate for families, community, and innovation. She has a powerful determination, and I have no doubt that her expertise and vision will carry Starfish into an incredible new chapter.”
A graduate of the University of Michigan and Leadership Detroit XXXVII, Brinkerhoff is a member and past vice president of Great Start Collaborative-Wayne. She is a proven asset to children and families who are navigating labels and social barriers, whether gender, special educational pathways, mental health needs, or neurodiversity.
“I am so excited and honored to join the Starfish team and come home to the work I love the most,” Brinkerhoff continued. “I have been fortunate to focus on children and families through my entire career, and early childhood education and behavioral health are the center of my passion and expertise.”
Brinkerhoff called Starfish a national model for children-focused nonprofits, with a dedicated and dynamic staff.
“Starfish is excited to welcome Roxanne to the CEO role and our full community,” said Board Chair Carla Burney Jones. “She brings unmatched experience in our program areas and has an obvious and inspiring commitment to mission and a vibrant future both for Starfish and the children and families of Southeast Michigan. We feel very fortunate to hire someone with such meaningful expertise and who is already deeply respected in the community for her impact.”
Current Chief Program Officer and Starfish employee for more than 20 years, Marisa Nicely, reflected, “When I recently learned of Roxanne’s hire – I was immediately excited about working together and her arrival to the Starfish team! Roxanne and I have worked together in the community for a long time. She is an inspiring leader and has been a force in our movements for years and years. Her kindness and empathy make her a stand-out. She puts the Starfish values of integrity, equity, and teamwork into action every day.”
“This is an incredible opportunity to build on decades of accomplishments and trust and ensure that inclusion and equity are woven into the fabric of our daily action and long-term planning,” Brinkerhoff said. “I have been inspired by the dedication of everyone I interacted with and cannot wait to get started.”
For Brinkerhoff, this role is also deeply personal as a former Head Start parent herself.
“I know first-hand how amazing Head Start is and how the program helps families through the day-to-day challenges while also helping to build hope and strength for tomorrow. Our Head Start teacher was an angel in our lives,” Brinkerhoff reflected.
Brinkerhoff is incredibly proud of her two young adult children who are a Division 1 pitcher and engineering student – and – an aviation-focused professional, respectively. Roxanne’s husband is a long-term educator in the Wayne Westland Community Schools District, another partner entity to Starfish in Wayne County.
Starfish is working on a variety of virtual and in-person Meet & Greet opportunities starting in the new year. We cannot wait for you to meet her!
With excitement and gratitude,
Carla Burney Jones – Board Chair
Howard Morris – Most recent past Board Chair and CEO Search Committee Chair
Click here to read announcement article from Crain’s Detroit Business: https://www.starfishfamilyservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Starfish-names-Roxanne-Brinkerhoff-as-its-next-CEO-_-Crains-Detroit-Business-1.pdf
Juneteenth, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day
Juneteenth, short for June 19, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that enslaved Americans were now free. This came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on January 1, 1863. (Source: https://www.juneteenth.com/history/)
On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed into law: S. 475, the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” declaring June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day and a federal holiday. It was the first new federal holiday enacted since the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1983.
“Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day) is a day to honor and celebrate liberation. The holiday is all about celebrating Black culture, history and life, and bringing people together to honor all those who came before us and fought for the rights and privileges we hold today.” (Source: https://www.purewow.com/family/how-to-celebrate-juneteenth)
Juneteenth Events: Southeast Michigan
We’ve spotlighted several Juneteenth celebrations taking place across southeast Michigan. Click for an expansive list of events, compiled by Brendel Hightower, Detroit Free Press.
June 11-19: Juneteenth Detroit Festival. Visit juneteenthindetroit.com for a list of events scheduled throughout metro Detroit that include music, art, food and so much more.
June 15-22: Southfield Juneteenth Celebration. Music, dance performances, a 2.5-mile walk, children’s story time, special appearances from Black Cowboy L.C. Caldwell and Tuskegee Airmen, food, and games. Southfield Municipal campus, 26000 Evergreen Road.
June 17-19: Juneteenth Freedom Weekend. The City of Detroit, Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, Detroit Branch NAACP, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Juneteenth Jubilee, Detroit Means Business and Eastern Market Development Corporation have partnered for events such as the Rhythm and Art Block Party, the Juneteenth Jubilee Stroll Livernois Avenue of Fashion, and the Juneteenth Freedom Fest – Eastern Market Shed.
June 18-19: Juneteenth Jubilee Freedom Weekend
- June 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: The Charles H. Wright Museum will highlight the history of Juneteenth, an “Underground Railroad Treasure Hunt,” and black-owned businesses and job opportunities.
- June 19, 3 p.m.: A concert at the museum entitled “Spirits Soar-Free!,” offering sights and sounds of musical performances from the 1860s to today.
June 18-19: Ypsilanti 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration. Hustle dance lessons, African dancers and drummers, poets, a jazz concert, comedy, and more at the parking lot behind Puffer Red’s, 107 Ferris St. in Ypsilanti.
Healing our children, community, ourselves
Over the last several weeks, our world and our emotions have been rocked again by inexplicable violence and the unfathomable killing of innocent children and adults in what should be safe places. Watching news reports, as well as hearing about these shootings, have the potential to activate a trauma response (especially fear or anxiety) in children, families, and the larger community.
There is no easy answer. No single remedy for healing. But, as dedicated champions for children and families, we have compiled strength-based tools from multiple trusted and respected sources. And, please, never forget that Starfish is here for you.
Methods for healing
High profile acts of violence, particularly in a school, can confuse and frighten children who may feel they’re in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are in jeopardy. This is true even if the incident didn’t occur locally. Children identify with other children regardless of location—which may trigger signs of anxiety. This is normal. If behaviors persist over time, professional help may be needed. (Source: American Psychological Association)
What to look for?
- Sudden changes in behavior: Trouble sleeping, difficulty with concentrating on school work or home responsibilities, changes in appetite, and changes in mood.
- Regression: Do they struggle with activities that have previously been mastered, such as tying shoes (for little ones).
- Despondency: Are they isolating, having crying spells or unpredictable outbursts.
How can we support our children?
Children look to us for information, reassurance, and guidance about how to navigate their emotions in a healthy, safe, and productive way. The best thing we can do is listen. Listening to our children about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them begin to cope (Source: National Association of School Psychologists)
- Make time to talk and listen to the concerns and feelings of children.
- Use language and ideas that are age-appropriate and appropriate for each child’s needs.
- Help your child to identify their feelings.
- Reassure children they are safe and review safety procedures.
- Create a sense of safety by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible.
- Limit the use of media consumption of violent events to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective.
Model healthy behavior
It’s natural to be anxious right now. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad. Children, however, pick up on what we say and do and take cues from us. So, first and foremost, care for yourself. Sometimes, just taking time to sit in our emotions is exactly what we need.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Set an example by turning off the television, radio, or social media.
- Talk to other parents.
- Go for a walk, embrace the healing benefits of nature.
- Connect with your community.
- Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth After the Recent Shooting (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
- Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
- Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting (American Counseling Association)
- The Virtual Wellness Center has resources and tools for parents and educators.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources that can be filtered by topic or keyword and by audience with a focus on how adults can identify traumatic responses in young people and how to support them.
- Compilation of mental health resources for parents, students, and educators.
Ann Kalass: Looking to Retirement
All of my days at Starfish have been inspiring.
A personal note from Starfish CEO Ann Kalass
When I came to Starfish Family Services in 2007, I made two commitments on Day One. First, was to always do the right thing for children and families, even when it was hard. Perhaps most when it was hard. Second, was to steward the existing Starfish culture of loyalty to mission, teamwork, and deep love of children and families.
In the nearly 15 years since beginning this journey, my own daughters have become amazing young adults, I’ve witnessed new teachers become master educators changing lives every day—and therapists partner with families to heal and build skills and resilience.
I’ve shed tears as clients from the Starfish Family crossed a graduation stage, found stability and health, and discovered their power.
I’ve sat in countless classrooms where children are joyfully playing, having their curiosity cheered on, and a lifelong love of learning is being born. No two days have been the same. All of them have been inspiring.
I have always closed the day feeling humbled by the opportunity to lead, to be surrounded by the most amazing teams and collaborators, and to strengthen families to create brighter futures for children in SE Michigan. Thus, the news I share today brings me both joy and tender reflection.
Late yesterday afternoon, I shared with the 400+ employees at Starfish that I am planning for a transition to retirement by early next year. This announcement has been in the works for many months and in discussion with my family far longer.
My tenure and success have been bolstered by our incredible friends and supporters in the community. Together, we’ve been able to grow the agency by nearly 400% (both budget and team), expand our programmatic reach, and center our vision in seeking a just society in which all children, families, and communities have equitable opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive.
While change has complexity, this transition will be planful and is in the best of hands.
- A search committee formed a couple of months back and has already secured a recruiting firm to lead a national search for exceptional candidates.
- Our Board President, Howard Morris, is leading this process.
In fact, Howard was a member of the committee that hired me to the role of CEO following our visionary founder, Ouida Cash. This is more than just fate—it reflects the commitment and dedication that is part of the DNA of Starfish.
I will remain as CEO until a new leader is hired and a smooth transition is complete. Before then, there will be opportunities to connect and celebrate. Thank you for trusting Starfish through the years and into the future.
Lastly, Crain’s Business Detroit covered this announcement if you’d like to read the article.
With immeasurable gratitude,
Ann Kalass, Starfish CEO
Starfish Family Services
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