We asked Pura Strong, one of our newest board members, to discuss the importance of board service for young professionals and her goal to center youth voices in everything we do. Pura, a passionate advocate for empowering youth who have navigated the child welfare system, earned a BSW from Ferris State University, an MSW from Clark Atlanta University, and is currently pursuing a PhD in social work at Wayne State University.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for young professionals or students to join nonprofit boards?
A: I believe that young professionals who join nonprofit boards are provided with an opportunity to build connections by networking with like-minded individuals, who share their passion for the cause. I find that participation aids in the opportunity to build social connections and countless opportunities for hands-on leadership that will benefit you in your professional and personal life.

Q: What are you looking forward to as a new board member?
A: I am most excited to truly be an advocate for the young girls at Vista Maria. I believe God blessed me with this opportunity as a person with lived experience to utilize my story and experiences to highlight the unforeseen and immediate needs of the young girls at Vista Maria. My primary focus is to allow the youth voice to be at the center of the conversation when implementing change, as the organization progresses into its missions and values. I hope with my lived experience, I can inspire the next generation of young leaders by showing all things are possible with faith and hard work.

Q: What is something you wish more people knew about Vista Maria?
A: I wish more people knew the level of care that is offered to youth and their families at Vista Maria, even after “case closure” or leaving the residential facilities.

To learn more about Vista Maria, including what we do and who we help, please visit