Derrick Willis

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Derrick Willis

Derrick Willis

UMKC Institute for Human Development
Kansas City, MO

I feel honored to be a part of such a distinguished team. I have been in the business of helping families, youth and professionals lead a purpose-driven life for 31 years. I started my career at a psychiatric residential treatment center for youth ages 6 to 12. After 6 years as a youth specialist I left to lead a counseling department at an alternative high school in the heart of Kansas City MO. We took youth who had been kicked, pushed out and or simply dropped out of school and helped them create a vision for their future while wrapping a support system around them to address issues related to violence, teenage pregnancy, drugs and alcohol etc. Whatever they presented we helped them find solutions to overcome. After 6 years I was recruited by The Missouri Department of Mental Health to lead some high-risk prevention efforts across the state. In 2000, I became the Director of the office of Multicultural Affairs for the department. My role was to help the largest state agency respond to the diverse needs of its clients. I relied on Tawara Goode and her Staff at Georgetown University to help me move our system forward and develop strategic goals to address cultural and linguistic competencies. After 11 years at the department I accepted a position at Missouri’s UCEED, University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Human Development.

I am now in my 11th year leading a body of work around transition for urban youth and families. I have had the pleasure of leading several projects of national significance and leading some local pipeline programs to help youth develop post-secondary outcomes and or employment. I serve on leadership teams across our university system that works to create a climate of respect and openness for all populations within our system. I am a father to six children (three biological). One son with a disability (Dysgraphia) that is in his third year of college. I have 7 grandchildren and manage to golf two to three times a week. Look forward to working with each of you.

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