Spelman Woman To Watch -- Dr. Rhonda Waller, C'91
Spelman Woman To Watch -- Dr. Rhonda Waller, C'91

TABITHA KELLY, C'94

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I stand proudly on the shoulders of those who came before me and I earnestly want to make them proud.

How TABITHA Puts Food On The Table: "Tabitha’s gig is hardly a 9-5, but she has fully embraced the life of public service. Tabitha serves as the Director of Social Services for the Department of Human Services in Arlington County, Virginia. She provides overall program management to the division, which is responsible for assessment, intervention, and treatment services that protect children from abuse and neglect, and strengthen caregiver capacity. Tabitha also provides programmatic leadership and oversight to children’s mental health and outpatient substance abuse programs, child care licensing/monitoring, parenting education, and community outreach programs. Her team is comprised of 92 staff with a budget of nearly $20 million.

Tabitha and her team have achieved dramatic results in the last five years: increased permanency for children, decreased length of foster care stay, and a less than 2% recidivism rate for repeat child maltreatment. Furthermore, infants and toddlers are safe in her division’s 240-monitored child care settings. Tabitha and her team have trained hundreds of school personnel to identify when a youth may be experiencing a mental health condition and how to seek assistance. Want a smile for today? Click here to view the couple honored as the (2017) Foster Parents of the Year Video for Arlington County by Tabitha and her team.

Spelman Woman To Watch -- Dr. Rhonda Waller, C'91

Humming TABITHA's "Pleasure Principle": "At this point in my career, I have acquired a track record of experiences and successes. As a result, people are interested in hearing from me. It is a blessing to lend my voice and perspective on issues impacting youth through a variety of media platforms. In 2016 I was featured by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (click on the previous bold, blue text to view the video) discussing missing youth and child sex trafficking. I am praying about where all of the speaking and outreach efforts may lead in the future. As for now, I am concentrating on coaching and training up the next generation of social service leaders. I need more soldiers in this fight for vulnerable children!”

That #SpelmanBlackGirlBrilliance Is On Full Display: “I am most proud that my husband and I have built a healthy, thriving family together. We have two amazing children with a strong sense of self who know that they are loved by God and us. Our family is perfectly imperfect, happy, and whole. Our children have given me more joy than I ever imagined and I thank God that He trusted me enough to be their mother. At the end of the day, my advocacy for children would be in vain if my own children were not well. So, I ‘walk the talk’ by loving and parenting my daughter and son the way I do."

Tabitha shares this love as the guardian to 100 children in foster care. “When I am faced with a difficult decision about someone else’s child, I often reflect on what I might want as a parent. The children I serve deserve no less than the children I raise at home. My children are a compass providing direction in uncharted territory. They are a huge part of my success.”

This Playa Playa Got Skills!: “Listen, there is no time for hatin’ only elevatin’. I believe we reap benefits in this life largely due to others, not simply because of our own might. I learned this lesson by watching the sacrifices that others made for me. I stand proudly on the shoulders of those who came before me and I earnestly want to make them proud. I have enjoyed strong mentors who nurtured my talent. I am a perceptive scholar who learns from mistakes made—my own and others. That learning has made me nimble and confident enough to navigate ‘the game’. I have an awesome tribe of confident women and men who challenge and inspire me."

 

Tabitha goes on to say,: "Later for the crabs in the barrel mentality! I have no time for that! If we are to move ahead, we must learn from and equip each other, build a stronger network, and forge a pathway to success together.”

TABITHA's Next Vulcan Chess Moves: “Tabitha is keenly interested in harnessing collective power to create a type of society that aligns resources, policies, and systems that strengthens families while protecting the safety and well-being of children. “I am glad that folks are waking up and becoming aware of the economic, health, judicial, and social disparities affecting children; particularly from communities of color. I am ready to move from awareness to action so that we can intervene more quickly, lessen harm, and prevent future risk to children and youth. At this time I am drafting local agency policy that improves practice and programs for families.” Tabitha is in discussions with Virginia's state legislators to support kinship care which will make it easier for relatives to care for their own. “My team and I are planning to disrupt the prison pipeline through stronger partnerships and practices with schools and juvenile justice partners.” 

Like Potato Chip Lovers, TABITHA Cannot Choose Just One: “I am drawn to both Awesomely Luvvie and VerySmartBrothers for the same reasons: their unabashed persistence to give voice to issues affecting the Black community. Their candor, wit, and transparency challenges you to think about equity and social justice issues. I am here for all of that!” Bottomless Brunch. All. The. Way!: “Since I have a weakness for French Toast, it takes very little to entice me to a bottomless brunch. My friends and I can easily spend hours laughing, reminiscing, and connecting over good eats, sweet treats, and mimosas!”

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