Katy Armendariz had no idea that a last minute decision would lead to fulfilling her lifelong dream of serving children and families. But that’s exactly what happened when she decided to abandon her scholarship for a PhD sociology program just two weeks shy of the beginning of the first semester. Instead, she enrolled in a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. This last minute choice stemmed from a personal place, but transformed into a professional commitment.
An international adoptee and former foster child herself, Katy learned personally what the child welfare system was doing right — and what it was doing wrong. In fact, homelessness and mental illness prevented her own birthmother for being able to parent. Katy knew from experience that disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities are disproportionately represented in the system.
In 2014, Katy started Minnesota CarePartner — a child welfare agency that addresses mental health and chemical health needs of children and families. She saw a need for in-home services for those who cannot make it to a clinic due to physical, mental, social, financial and/or transportation barriers.
Katy has made policy recommendations to the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health for improving access for minority groups throughout the state in 2016. She is also a Civil Rights Commissioner for Ward 12 in Minneapolis, serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Trauma Project, and she serves on the DHS Behavioral Health Planning Council. These efforts complement her mission to advocate alongside disenfranchised communities.