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Change Maker in Action: Alumni Spotlight on Grace Heron
August 3, 2017

With her recent win in a city council primary, Grace Heron MSW'16, has transformed policy theory into a real life action. In part, her decision to run was inspired by her work as a graduate student on the Camden campus.

“Being a social work student in the Camden area was particularly important, because I got to see firsthand the challenges and the opportunities that exist in that part of New Jersey," Heron says.

She also attributes her passion to a close mentoring relationship with faculty member, Lorraine Howard, who was her undergraduate field work advisor, and later one of her professors in graduate school.

“She helped me find my place in social work. She was able to break things down, explain them clearly, and leave me with newfound confidence and motivation to do more,” explains Heron.

Inspired by her work at Messages of Hope and the recent presidential election, Heron looked to action and change beyond her individual social work visits, and turned towards an opportunity for a city council seat in her hometown of Beverly, New Jersey.

Heron’s parents, who are social workers themselves, have always been civically involved, so when her father shared the opportunity to channel her energy into a run in their local political scene, Heron rose to the occasion.

Heron sees her run for council as an opportunity to do the much needed work and to create policies that can enhance the type of work and advocacy she is able to do at Messages of Hope, specifically providing substance abuse counseling for adults.

When broadly speaking of policy, Heron looks to incorporate the human aspect and inclusion natural to her social work background. "At work, I see the barriers people face when they are just trying to be the best versions of themselves. I help on a clinical level, but want to do more outside of the office."

In June, Heron won her city council primaries moving her forward to the direct election this fall, and is looking forward to what this next chapter brings in her professional career.

Heron hopes to inspire others to consider a run for office, either locally or on a larger scale. She shared some parting advice for others who may be looking to incite change in their lives.

"Do not let uncomfortable situations stop you," she says “You don't have to go in with all of the answers, but you do need to find a way to make change for the better when and where you can."

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