Shanequa Stepps, MSW
I am the Director of Programming for a nonprofit who serves any youth who is at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in the State of Georgia. I direct the provision of all our programs and services. In my role, I collaborate with each and every program coordinator as well as all licensed social workers as they work towards fulfilling the agency’s strategic plans. My goal is to ensure that every program results in a positive, evidence-driven impact on the youth in communities served. I help our agency meet its mission by overseeing the organization’s daily operations as well as leading the advocacy and policy reform efforts. I have 9.5 years of professional experience with improving the lives of others. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Jacksonville State University and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of New England. Currently seeking my Doctorate of Leadership and Organizational Management. I have gained valuable experience while working for the Department of Family & Children Services and the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities.
“Initially, I was going to be a teacher and follow in the footsteps of my mom. I wanted to teach special education. So Special Education was my initial major, but it didn’t feel like my actual calling. I’m like the mom version in my friend group, making sure everyone is cared for and safe. I eventually ventured into child welfare, and I realized that is something that I wanted to do. I wanted to make a change in the community, and because I could relate to a child who is growing up with family members who are facing addiction, I felt that I could really make an impact.”
“As the director of my agency, this pandemic has significantly impacted my staff. A lot of people don’t want anyone coming to their homes providing services. We are unable to see our clients face-to-face, but we can engage with them via zoom.”
“If you don’t have the heart to serve, then this work is not for you. You have to have the heart to do the work. Go the extra mile to help the people you serve. When you get settled in your career, the money will come. Learning as many skills that you can from everyone that you can meet. You can use those same skills to have a breakthrough in your professional and personal life. And when you rise to the level of leadership, you have to mentor other people.”
I always stress the importance of mindfulness and self-care with my staff. I talk to my staff about creating a peaceful space and carving out time for themselves. For my self-care, I love to go to the spa and treat myself. I also enjoy journaling. When you write your thoughts down it’s good to see them on paper rather than having them bottled up in your mind. I also enjoy going outside and going for long walks. I had to learn to take things day by day and not put the weight of others on myself. Through this pandemic, I learned if that you have to breathe and take it one day at I time.
“One of my proudest moments was keeping a family of five together. It’s significant because even though we fight to keep families together sometimes, it’s not always possible, especially with larger families. With this one particular case, we were able to place and adopt the whole family together. We always fight for them to stay together, but that’s not always the case.
Another proud moment is seeing all the people that I’ve mentored and lead come up into leadership positions for themselves. I am grateful that I could pour into future leaders and help them along the way.”