Meet the women who help United Way change lives: Lizzie Devereux, Education Program Manager and Walk a Mile Executive Director; Heather Chapman, Vice President of the United Way Ben Center; and Judge Halee Weinstein, Associate Judge for the First District Court in Baltimore City and founder of the Veterans Treatment Court.
We talked with these inspiring women about the work they do and how it transforms the communities they support—and why other women should consider positions in their fields.
LET’S START WITH AN EASY QUESTION – WHAT DO YOU DO?
Judge Halee Weinstein: The District Court of Maryland hears landlord-tenant cases, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors and certain felonies. In addition to founding the Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court, [a court-supervised, comprehensive, and voluntary treatment-based program for veterans charged with misdemeanor and concurrent jurisdiction felonies,] I also founded Courting Art Baltimore, which promotes youth artwork, connects the legal community with local Baltimore City communities, and aims to reduce stress and anxiety for litigants and visitors by beautifying local courthouses.
Heather Chapman: I oversee day-to-day operations for multiple [United Way Ben Center] programs, including a family center, trauma-informed mental health programming, homelessness prevention and workforce development services. I’ve served as Mental Health Clinician at Benjamin Franklin High School since 2011, providing and coordinating trauma-informed services to students and their families.
Lizzie Devereux: I really wear multiple hats. I serve as Site Manager for our On Track 4 Success high school dropout prevention program, which helps students at risk of dropping out of school get back on track so that they can graduate from high school. I direct our Walk a Mile experience, where participants “walk in the shoes” of someone living in poverty. The experience powerfully presents complexities and barriers families face every day just trying to make ends meet.
WHAT DRIVES YOU? WHAT MAKES YOU WANT TO GET UP IN THE MORNING?
Judge Weinstein: My passion to serve the community and help veterans get back on their feet. To get up in the morning, there is nothing like a cup of Tazo Joy tea. Sometimes, it’s the little things.
Heather: We’re all here for a purpose and every day, I want to be sure to fulfill mine. I believe part of that purpose is to make sure people understand that they matter, and that they too have purpose.
Lizzie: The people! From my amazing colleagues at United Way to the incredible students, families and school staff at Maree G. Farring Elementary and Middle School and in the Brooklyn community we serve, I am lucky to be surrounded by kind, compassionate, intelligent, driven individuals who inspire me daily.
WHY DO YOU THINK OTHER WOMEN SHOULD CONSIDER CHOOSING YOUR CAREER PATH OR JOB?
Heather: One minute I’m working on a million-dollar budget or presenting to donors and the next I’m talking with a student whose sibling was murdered the night before. I encourage other women to take the leap into this career path as we are phenomenal multi-taskers who can complete any challenge with grace, all in the name of making a difference.
Lizzie: I honestly feel that we do our best work when we care deeply about what we’re spending hours doing day in and day out. If you’re passionate about having a positive impact in your community–specifically with our youth–and if you enjoy building relationships with an incredible diversity of individuals, then my career path would be a great fit for you.
WHO IS A WOMAN WHO YOU ADMIRE?
Judge Weinstein: Regardless of my father’s military orders, my mother always managed to create a safe, warm and loving home environment for our family. We moved 14 times in 14 years and she never missed a beat with us. Being a military spouse can be very demanding, stressful and challenging, and her strength and resilience throughout the years is something I admire and try to emulate, both personally and professionally.
WHAT ASPECTS OF YOUR WORK OR PERSONAL LIFE DO YOU FEEL ARE TRANSFORMATIVE?
Judge Weinstein: The Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court is transforming lives. It’s amazing to witness each veteran’s journey. Because of it, they’ve stopped using drugs, found a place to call home, landed stable employment opportunities, and, most importantly, have been able to reconnect with their families. They’ve also created new bonds with other veterans participating in the program and with community organizations.
Heather: I believe this work transforms you as a person, causing you to always reflect and be inherently aware of the impact of systems on communities and individuals. This ignites a passion to empower individuals and help communities gain access to the tools and information to advance and advocate for themselves. That passion is like a flame; once it gets going, it can transform an entire community.
Lizzie: Professionally, I feel lucky to be part of transformative efforts in all aspects of my job – from working with families and schools; to connecting students to much-needed resources and opportunities; to facilitating Walk a Mile debrief conversations where participants share powerful testimony of the impact the experience has had on them; to serving on United Way’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee in an effort to transform our organization from within.