A Champion for Children

DCFS’ Julie Taylor receives national award

By Cary Rosenbaum of the CUJ

MISSION – Julie Taylor was surprised to find a certificate in her email inbox last month. She opened a digital certificate to find she had been named a “Champion for Children” by the Child Welfare League of America.

Taylor, the CTUIR’s Department of Children and Family Services Director, immediately gave credit to her staff of 15.

“For me, I don’t think it’s an individual award,” she said. “I have a good team. I have to have my staff. For me, my department received the award. It was a team effort.”

The organization told Taylor it was “thrilled to acknowledge your exceptional commitment to supporting children and families who are vulnerable and advancing the field of child welfare.

Taylor, a CTUIR member, received congratulatory messages from near and far.

“NICWA is so pleased to join the Child Welfare League of America in recognizing Julie Taylor as a Champion for Children,” said Sarah Kastelic, Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA). “We’ve been fortunate to work with Julie, first as a social work practicum student in our office and later partnering with her to learn from CTUIR’s experience dramatically reducing unnecessary foster care and keeping more children safely at home with their families. Julie even brought members of CTUIR’s Youth Council to Portland to make a presentation to the NICWA Board of Directors. We love partnering with and learning from Julie, and we congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition.”

“Julie is truly a role model for the community,” ICWA Consultant Emily Hawkins said. “Throughout the years she has demonstrated an unwavering dedication, passion and advocacy for improving outcomes for Tribal children, youth and families. Julie leads and empowers her staff to help her community thrive. This award is well deserved for Julie’s commitment. Incredibly proud to walk alongside her in this work and continue to learn from her leadership and partnership.”

Adam Becenti, the Tribal Affairs Director of the Oregon DHS Directors Office, gave high praise of Taylor.

“Julie Taylor has one of the biggest hearts when it comes to the safety and welfare of tribal children, families, and elders,” he said. “When I need inspiration or hope I look to see what Julie is doing because her actions are always focused on helping her community and nation. She deserves to be celebrated and cherished every day.”

Kelsey Burns, the Alcohol & Drug Prevention Education Program Coordinator at Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, said Taylor is a huge part of the CTUIR community.

“She has the ability to lead. She is dedicated to the community,” he said. “Julie has known me basically my whole life. I didn’t get to really work with her until the CTUIR Youth Leadership Summits and Youth Council formed in 2013. She has helped guide not just me, but numerous youth into becoming leaders.

“The work that Julie does for the community will never go unnoticed,” Burns added. “I am thankful for her providing her leadership for the DCFS and for the community as a whole.”

Taylor wanted to recognize her staff, which includes Taylor Jerome, Marla Mayfield, Cristina Ferea, Haley Kannard, Angelica Lopez, and Dionne Bronson. Her DCFS staff includes Kathleen Elliot, Lawanda Bronson, Natasha Herrera, Randy Minthorn, Sam Spino, Calista Winnett, and Alan Crawford.

Bronson, an ICWA Caseworker for DCFS, said Taylor is passionate and creative.

“(She uses) the rich resources and unique connections she has built over her lifetime to empower the youth,” Bronson said. “She wants our youth to have authentic experiences that provide them a foundation of identity, exploration, knowledge and service to their people. Leaders such as Julie Taylor provide encouragement, hope, love, and opportunities for our children, understanding there is no better investment.

“She was taught that by her elders and now teaches her value of family and community through her profession and lifestyle,” Bronson added.

Board of Trustees Chair Kat Brigham also praised Taylor and her staff for their work.

“Julie Taylor has always worked for our children,” she said. “She has cried, smiled and laughed with them in their good and bad times. Julie and her staff in the Department of Family and Children Services work hard to get the wrap around services that our children need. It is wonderful to see that Julie was nominated by her peers for this important national award.”

Taylor’s background includes earning a Master’s of Social Work degree from Portland State University; she was a former intern with the National Indian Child Welfare Association; she was employed with the National Indian Health Board in Portland; and is a former Board of Trustees member (1997-1999, 2010-2011) who resigned to become the DCFS Director.

From a leadership standpoint, she has served various roles, committees and commissions, including the ICWA Advisory Committee, the Chair of the CTUIR Education Committee, Chair of CTUIR Tribal Employment Rights Office, Co-Chair of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indian Youth Committee, the CTUIR Youth Leadership Council, the Head Start Policy Council, and Nixyaawii Community School Board.

She is Umatilla, Walla Walla, Cayuse and Chippewa. She is the great-granddaughter of the late Chief Clarence Burke and granddaughter of the late Ellen Burke Cowapoo and William “Bill” Johnson.

She is the daughter of Marlene Taylor; mother of two children, Jacqueline and Sidney Jones; and grandmother of Brooklyn Jones.

“My family, my mom, children, and sisters, uncles, cousin, and grandchild have been truly with me through this journey with my work and the prayers help all of us everyday!” Taylor said.