Updated: Jan 3
If you are new to the valley and are needing a friendly face to connect with, you can find this caring and compassionate heart in Whitney Young. That is exactly how I met her, and I am grateful that I found myself in the same community meeting as Whitney one day shortly after moving to Eagle County. I have since learned that Whitney does not know a stranger, because she has an inherent and natural way of making everyone she meets instantly feel like a friend. Ironically, this is the same character trait that Whitney experienced in many other Eagle County residents that convinced her that this was where she was meant to put down roots and build a life after moving here from Maryland over a decade ago. She describes the friends and community that she was met with early on as a sort of family away from home and Whitney would eventually meet her love Karrisa, now her wife, which made her fall in love with Eagle County even more.
Whitney’s amazing personality is not only what helps her to create lasting friendships, but also what makes her perfect for the many roles that she plays in Eagle County. After stepping in as merely an interim Executive Director at the Family Learning Center of Edwards, FLC, in November of 2019, Whitney found herself the leader of a facility that, like many others, was facing the chaos and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whitney tackled the challenges and unknowns seamlessly, and it was clear that she was meant to be more than just an interim employee. Whitney has been the official Executive Director at FLC ever since, and the center is thriving. She credits her amazing team of teachers and staff for this success as well, and states that she couldn’t do the work without each and every one of them.
FLC is an early learning center for children ages 8 weeks to 6 years old. All children are welcome, and the center consists of children from all income levels. FLC is a bi-lingual school which boasts a bi-lingual staff and classroom environment. There is a focus on explorations of music and traditions to cultivate awareness of cultural diversity. The Family Learning Center incorporates the 7 key values of respect, compassion, honesty, independence, celebrations of diversity, joy of learning, and appreciation of nature into the curriculum and all lesson plans support the inclusion of the key values in the vocabulary of both children and staff. Many of the teachers are primarily Spanish speaking and actively learning English, so the environment at FLC is beneficial for both students and staff alike! Whitney wants to instill that at FLC, they are a melting pot of all different socioeconomic statuses and backgrounds and she strives to make the environment as equitable as possible for all. Whitney believes that “It’s never too early to have kids learning and growing together.” She aims to meet each child where they are at, and her goal is to make every child feel loved and accepted, regardless of what they are able to bring to the table. Whitney’s role as Executive Director is to not only run the center, but also to secure grants, support the teachers, find resources for families, and refer students for additional services when needed. She also makes arrangements to bring important services directly to the center, such as the Mira bus, to provide vaccines for children and families who may have difficulty getting to healthcare providers. Whitney expresses that she has an extremely supportive team of staff members and is amazed by the creative ways that the teachers at FLC come up with to reach their students and help them succeed. Whitney is a lifelong learner and strives to continuously grow and learn. She takes courses and does her research to gain a better understanding of the work that the classroom educators at FLC do, and to find new ways to be able to support her teachers.
Before finding herself at FLC, Whitney had a positive impact on the lives of others in several different ways. After graduating with her Masters of Social Work from University of Denver, Whitney worked with youth and families at Anshutz Medical Campus, Mountain Family Health Center, and was contracted through many other organizations in social work and behavioral health therapy roles. She has also worked in animal assisted social work, virtual therapy, and has taken part in working with community organizations such as Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation, Vail Valley Charitable Fund, The Community Market, SpeakUp ReachOut, and more! She is encouraged by the sense of community that is created by all of these organizations working together for the greater good, and feels grateful that these organizations are addressing mental health and making services more accessible. Whitney has always wanted to work in a person-centered capacity, and her love for people of all ages lends itself perfectly to the many roles she has filled over the years. She expresses that she feels fortunate to have been witness to the substantial increase in mental health services in Eagle County over the last decade, and is hopeful that we will continue to see a growing network of support for mental health services in our county. When she worked for Mountain Family Health Center about a decade ago, she was the first and only behavioral health therapist in the area. “Seeing the increase in mental health services has been amazing!” Whitney proclaims.
Whitney definitely stays busy with her work in the community, but when she finds herself with some down time, she is like most Coloradans and tries to get outdoors! She loves the water and the mountains, and even worked for a summer at Timberline Tours when she was new to the Valley. She is also a very active member of the yoga community and is a proponent of participating in yoga for both physical and mental health benefits. She teaches yoga classes at Revolution Power Yoga and invites everyone of all skill levels to come out for a class! Whitney also enjoys spending time with her wife Karrisa and their fur baby Ruby in Red Cliff, where they recently moved. They have loved settling into their new home and making it their own out in the beautiful scenic mountain town.
To know Whitney Young is a true blessing, and I hope that if you have not had the pleasure of meeting her yet, you get to soon! She is an active member of our community and Eagle County is lucky to have someone like her putting in the work to support its community members. She is the epitome of a true Difference Maker, and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to honor her. Make sure to check out Family Learning Center at https://www.flcedwards.org/ to learn how you can support children and families in Eagle County.
Written by Krystle James, Marketing and Events Manager with Mountain Youth, firstname.lastname@example.org