We are pleased to highlight Commissioner Natalie Sheppard as our
final Black Women Roc! feature for the Month of June
Natalie Sheppard is the newly elected School Board Commissioner for the Rochester City School District (RCSD) in Rochester, New York. She was elected to this position by the residents of the City of Rochester in the November 2017 elections. She was born and raised in Rochester, NY and has a Master’s degree in Social Work where she uses her knowledge and experience at Corbett Adoption Agency of Children Awaiting Parents. Commissioner Sheppard takes pride in playing an active part in improving the Rochester community at large but her passion is work with Rochester area’s youth and family.
How does it feel to be nominated for the 2018 Black Women Roc! Campaign
NS: It is such an incredible feeling and I am honored to be nominated for the 2018 Black Women Roc Campaign. The work I am committed to doing I do not do for any accolades but for strengthening those around me so that we leave a better society for future generations.
When did you begin the community engagement work that you do?
NS: I began community engagement work as a teenager volunteering and working with other youth. Now I am an elected Commissioner of the Rochester City School District’s Board of Education. I believe my role as a Commissioner is to bridge gaps that exist within the educational system so that we are propelling our youth into longevity success.
What inspires you to continue to work hard for the Rochester Community!
NS: I am inspired by all of our past and present leaders who have shown courage, resilience, and victory through their words and actions as a servant leader.
For you how does your business or area of expertise relate to wellness?
NS: My area of expertise relates to social and emotional wellness which subsequently leads to physical wellness. Education covers many aspects of a person’s life and has the capability to build strong productive members of society if used in a positive and effective way.
How do you stay mentally and physically healthy ?
NS: I stay mentally and physically healthy through the faith within my religious beliefs. It is important for me to stay grounded in my Christian journey of love and service. I also have to remind myself that it is crucial to maintain self-care remedies so that I am replenishing my energy.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your community engagement?
NS: The most challenging aspect of my community engagement is scheduling. I like to stay connected and show my community support by attending events and meetings. Frequently, there are multiple engagements going on at the same time which creates scheduling conflicts. I often wish I had the ability to be in multiple places at one time because it is important for me that people in our Rochester community know that I am still of the community and get a chance to interact with me in comfortable “informal” settings.
What are you working on now?
NS: I am currently the Chair of the Excellence in Student Achievement Committee for the RCSD. Through this role, I am working on amplifying student voice and improving student outcomes. As an advocate, I am working on strengthening my relationship with the community and bringing the voice of my people to different levels of government.
What’s has been your best experience as a Black female change agent in Rochester?
NS: My best experience as a Black female change agent has been receiving the support of others for me to embrace all of who I am culturally, professionally, and personally.
What has been your biggest challenge as a Black female change agent in Rochester?
NS: My biggest challenge as a Black female change agent has been breaking through many of the invisible barriers that have been set up to specifically to hinder the success of people of color and women. I am also on the younger side for the elected position that I hold and that has also been a challenge. As a young Black female change agent I have to deal with others constantly underestimating my capabilities because prejudices and implicit biases.
Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
NS: I have been able to overcome those challenges by exemplifying my knowledge and abilities through my words and actions.
What advice do you have for other women interested in community activism/engagement work?
NS: I would advise other women who are interested in community activism and engagement work to stand in confidence that what they bring to the table in these areas is strong enough to break the mold society has historically placed women in to limit our potential and contribution in life.
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
NS: I would like everyone who reads this to know the power that exists within oneself is needed in the collective fight to make our community thrive. WE ARE ONE COMMUNITY!
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