Jenny Collins, a member of the Alumni Society Board, has had a long career in youth development with the Minneapolis Beacons Network and the University YMCA. Jenny is committed to empowering young people to create equitable schools and communities. In particular, she works to engage students from low-income communities, underperforming schools, and those who are first in their family to attend college.
Executive Director, University YMCA and Beacons Network Network, Y of the Greater Twin Cities
M.Ed., Youth Leadership Development, 2010
Nearly 20 years leadership with the Minneapolis Beacons Network, a partnership between the Minneapolis Public Schools and youth development organizations that engages youth as leaders and learners to create equitable schools and communities.
Four years as Executive Director with the University YMCA, partnering with University of Minnesota college student leaders to transform individuals and communities.
Seven summers as a camp counselor leading youth and staff through transformational group experiences in a wilderness setting.
Member of U of MN Educational Equity Taskforce
CEHD Alumni Society Board Member
Afterschool Alliance Minnesota Ambassador, 2004
Evaluation Fellows Participant, 2007-08
Youthwork Practitioner Writing Project Participant, 2011
Participating in the HECUA Program (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs), which connected me to an internship focused on social change and youth development in the then emerging Minneapolis replication of the Beacons model from New York City.
Youth in the World, Michael Baizerman
Experiential Education and Spirituality in Youthwork, Lisa Kimball
History of Youth Organizations, Joyce Walker
My experiences with Youth Studies and YDL taught me to approach programs, policies, and relationships with young people through a lens that takes into account the lived daily reality of youth and the historical and current cultural context that shapes our approach to young people.
Youthworkers. Network Weavers. Bridge Builders. The people who can navigate between worlds to create more connected and coherent communities.
In today's constantly changing environment, the noise and information and possibilities are infinite, but we are finite. Emerging professionals have to know how to sustain themselves and their work by setting priorities, striving for balance, and carving out a space for critical reflection.
When I am not at work I hang out with my husband and our daughters Helen (6 years old) and Clara (2 years old). If they are in bed we mostly watch bad TV to avoid doing housework. Lately I have been researching travelling to Ireland, hoping to someday go there with my mom and my sister to explore our ancestry.
Depending on the person they might say organized, disorganized, creative, fun, serious, strategic, random, inspiring, or tired.
I am very passionate about my family and my work and I do my best each day to keep it all together. Some days go better than others.
I just started Our Kids by Robert Putnam, which is really good so far.
Probably Beyoncé. Or Gisela Konopka. Or Jane Addams.
Seeing people grow and develop. Seeing systems and organizations become more responsive and better at serving people, particularly when this closes gaps in equity and access.
A writer. Or a business woman with a corner office.
I seek out informal mentors and people I respect and grow through my conversations and relationships with these people.
I love to interpret people's dreams and tell them what they mean. I have no training or skills that qualify me in any way to do this.