West Virginia Child Advocacy Network
Emily Chittenden-Laird says people should follow their passions.
And that's exactly what she did.
As executive director of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network, Chittenden-Laird provides training, technical assistance and consultation on a statewide level.
"I really love being able to work on all levels to make a systemic change," she said. "We have a great system in West Virginia."
Chittenden-Laird also has received a national Outstanding Chapter Leader Award in 2011 from the National Children's Alliance and the Purple Ribbon Award in 2012 from the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"Seeing the systems change over time to help children is really exciting," she added, noting these systems encompass the criminal justice side, mental health and victim advocacy.
Chittenden-Laird attended William Jewell College in Missouri, where she majored in English literature. Shortly after graduation, she went to Washington, D.C., where she interned at the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.
This is where she first found her love for working in the service field.
"After I left that internship, I came to West Virginia as a VISTA member. I came to work at a local child advocacy center," she said. "Having worked with inspiring people doing such great work really affirmed that great motivation."
As a VISTA member, she served as a forensic interviewer at a local children's advocacy center.
When she's not at work or working in other organizations such as the Children's Justice Task Force, Citizens Review Panel, Court Improvement Board, Healthy Kids & Families Coalition, ACLU West Virginia and Regenerate West Virginia, Chittenden-Laird loves to spend time with her 3-year-old and 1-year-old children.
"When work is done, work is done," she said. "It's time for my kids now. My kids have forced me into that but it's great."
She said it's important to remember when working in the nonprofit sector to promote strengths.