In her role as parent engagement coordinator, Leesa Nelson works with Children’s Trust programs, the Family Resource Center network and state-level partners to build parent partnerships, support and advocacy initiatives.

Leesa Nelson

Leesa Nelson serves as Children’s Trust’s parent engagement coordinator.

Children’s Trust created this new position to strengthen relationships with parents with lived experiences in order to more meaningfully serve communities across the state.

Nelson joined Children’s Trust in April with 15 years of experience working with families experiencing complex trauma. The Children’s Trust home visiting team recently sat down with Nelson to get to know her and her new position.

What past experience led you to Children’s Trust?

I have spent the past 15 years of my professional career working as a mental health therapist with families of complex trauma. Children and adolescents have my heart, so I primarily worked with them in local nonprofits in the Upstate, especially in domestic violence. I am a certified Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and have used that knowledge in both private nonprofit counseling and in shelters. 

What are your job duties?

In my role as the Children’s Trust parent engagement coordinator, I will be working with our program teams, the Family Resource Center Network and state-level partners to build parent engagement, support and advocacy initiatives. Right now, my focus is on building relationships and getting to know the many Children’s Trust programs. This groundwork will help me understand what is needed to engage parents in the most effective way and how their “voice” can transform communities across the state. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Since I’m new to this role (and this role is new to Children’s Trust), I’m really enjoying learning about all the different programs and meeting the people that make them thrive. I’m also enjoying expanding my knowledge about what we are doing for children and families. I joke often that my brain feels like it is in graduate school again, but that just goes to show how much wonderful work is happening across South Carolina. It makes me excited to see how we can continue this growth over the coming years.

What is your advice for home visitors?

If I could give any advice, it would be to go into homes looking to learn something about the families that can help you build their confidence in their lived experience. They have the potential to be leaders. The leaders that left the deepest influence on my life are the ones who walked this journey with me and instilled in me leadership skills based on my already embedded skills. I truly believe our ability to help make our families, parents, caregivers and children, leaders, will revolutionize our communities.

Tell us about your family.

My family consists of my mother, Debby; my brother, Tommy; my sister-in-law, Beth; my niece, Laney and my nephew, Ty. My mom is the strongest and most resilient person I know.  She brought my brother and me into the world when the odds were against her since she was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (aka brittle bone disease). She has lived her life defying the odds at every corner and many people are better humans because of her. I’ve also been really blessed with a chosen family of friends who has supported me through some of the most difficult times in life.

What is your favorite room in your home?

This is the hardest question. I have two. The first one would be my bedroom because this girl loves to sleep! I also have an adjustable bed that is perfect for reading and watching movies. My other favorite room is my living room because it is so open and brings so much light into my house. I have an old mill house with 10-foot ceilings and my living room has original flower wallpaper on one of the walls; it brings so much character to the house. I bought it from my best friend’s family – the only other people to own the house – so I feel like the legacy of this home comes through in the little details that have been left behind.