Central Missouri Community Action's newest community organizer for Moniteau County is no stranger to the community.
After a roughly five year absence from working in California, Jenn Millard's new role with CMCA will see her taking a more hands-on approach across the entire county.
"I worked with families more when I was in California, so I really enjoyed that," Millard said of her past role with CMCA, which saw her serve as the home base teacher for Moniteau County Early Head Start. "I met some really great families, so now I'm excited to see those families and see how much they've grown, but then also to do more in the community."
Millard grew up in Louisiana, Missouri, and graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in child and family development. Just three days after graduating, she was on the job as a Head Start teacher with CMCA, the beginning of a more than 11-year-long career with the non-profit. A few years later, she decided to make the switch to the role in California with Early Head Start, which she kept up for three and a half years.
Then came opportunities to move within CMCA to more in-depth roles working with families in crisis and with the Show Me Healthy Relationships grant, a role helping to offer healthy relationship courses and partnerships throughout the Mid-Missouri community which Millard has served in for the past four years.
Recently, the opportunity came up to wear a new hat yet again.
"I've always loved the piece of the community organizer that we've had within our agency, but those jobs are tough to find because they're good jobs and nobody wants to leave them," Millard said.
But the community organizer for Osage County retired, leaving a hole in CMCA's coverage of the area. Millard applied, and the decision was eventually made to shift Moniteau County's last community organizer, Stefani Thompson, toward serving Cole County — she had previously handled both Moniteau and Cole — and bring Millard into the fold as the community organizer for Moniteau and Osage counties.
Millard said her time will be split between the two counties, and her goal is to get people aware of what's going on in each community and how they can come together to make their communities better.
"I'm a firm believer in getting to know people and building relationships, especially within your community, so that's what I'm really excited to do is to get in there more and figure out what people are needing, what are people wanting?" Millard said. "How can I as a community organizer help that, and how can CMCA get in here and help make Moniteau County even better?"
Looking to the future, Millard said she hopes to play in role in advancing workforce development in the county, a goal inherited from Thompson's previous work in the county. Millard said she is excited to work toward getting into the county's high schools and helping to educate students about their options within their community.
She will also jump right into work on the county's budding Healthy Lifestyles group, which is taking steps toward becoming a coalition.
Above all, Millard said she's just excited to get to know people in the community.
"I'm really just excited about meeting new people and just seeing the changes now from when I was working here in the past," Millard said. "California has already changed so much."