Behind every talented individual is a community of supporters poised to provide mentorship, advice, and encouragement. At Pollen we know no person succeeds alone, so we went in search of those who took up the call to help the next generation thrive. Who are the faces behind Twin Cities’ talent? We ask Amelia Franck Meyer to introduce us to the individuals who’ve helped shape her into the person she is today.
Words by Morgan Mercer
Grand Central Station. That’s what it looked like when all the kids came to play at Amelia Franck Meyer’s house. She grew up in tough neighborhood outside Chicago, full of violence both in the streets and in people’s homes. But her parents made the Franck home a safe haven on the block.
“I’ve always recognized the incredible importance of family in what it takes to be okay in the world,” Amelia says. “Loneliness is as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”
Especially for kids. That’s why Amelia flipped child welfare services on its head at Anu Family Services, where she has served as the CEO since 2001.
For her, the work isn’t just about meeting a child’s basic needs when they’re in your program—it’s about helping kids find permanent homes with family or someone who knows them. This deep-rooted belief drove her to declare an audacious goal for her company: to be the last stop before finding a permanent home for 90 percent of the kids they serve.
This year that was true for 62 percent of kids at Anu, up from 38 percent at the start of 2006.
Innovation that drives change is a mindset for Amelia. It wasn’t a question of “Should we make our system better?” It was a question of “How much bigger can we dream?” At Anu, the kids get to hire and fire—choosing who they work with, and how quickly. If a kid moves out of the Twin Cities, staffers still stick with them to finish the work they started together. Changes like these have made Anu nationally-renowned and have state programs knocking on their door, asking how they can copy Anu’s permanency-driven culture.
Amelia’s Six Can’t-Live-Without Mentors
Founder and CEO, The Center for Workforce Excellence
“Trudy’s superpower is to ask the most perfectly framed strategic questions that blow my mind, guide my development, and push me to the next level of thinking. She helps me to think BIG, and faithfully believes in my talents and capacities.”
Lead Parent Coach, Anu Family Services
“Tina’s trauma-informed model of parent coaching changed my worldview and enhanced my practice in immeasurable ways. She taught me the power of positivity, heartfelt gratitude, and connection to create amazing outcomes with youth (and grown-ups) who have previously been shamed, blamed, punished, and disconnected.”
Mary Jo Kreitzer
Founder and Director, University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing
“Mary Jo helps me apply her innovations and wisdom in the areas of well-being and integrative healing to the populations of youth I’m passionate about serving. She provides thought leadership to me in the area of well-being, and also challenges my growth as a leader and innovator.”
Executive Director, University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
“Traci takes my crazy dreams and ideas and makes them into realities. She offers critical perspectives about how my work fits into the larger picture of child welfare, and patiently meets me where I’m at in my drive in urgency for change in child welfare.”
Consultant and former CEO, PATH, Inc.
“Tim hired me from social work intern to executive director. He took a chance on me and saw potential where others may not have seen it. He always had my back, and that allowed me to step out on a few limbs to try new things. Much of my success today is due to the trust he placed in me early on in my career in Minnesota.”
President, Jack Tesmer Institute
Board Chair, Anu Family Services
“Jack has been a defining influence in my life over the past decade. He has taught me half of what I know about leading organizations—much of which is outlined in his brilliant new book, Sync & Swim! He normalizes the change and development process, and makes me feel like I am in Jedi training.”
Good mentors make all the difference when you take the leap into professional life. Every so often it’s great to give them a shout out to let them know just how much they mean to you. From dishing out helpful advice to offering up a listening ear, who would make your list?