Celebrating a Youth Voice Champion: Kristin Thorp

This summer is filled with so much reflection and hopeful notions for the future of Youth MOVE National. As we honor where we have been through the history of Youth MOVE National, share our new strategic plan, and welcome a new Executive Director, we want to feature another youth voice champion, Kristin Thorp. 

This week is Kristin’s last week at Youth MOVE National, and we want to take some time to share some of the amazing work she has done for the organization! Kristin started in the Youth MOVEment way back in 2012 as a Youth Program Coordinator at the Youth MOVE Maine chapter, working alongside several other staff that have worked for National throughout the years! She connected with youth all over the state, working within juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, workforce development programs, community mental health organizations, and more. Many in our network have benefited from the lessons she learned offering peer support and convening young people across a broad region of Maine. Kristin realized her passion for data and evaluation while doing this work and eventually found herself as the Quality Improvement Coordinator at THRIVE (Youth MOVE Maine’s host organization). Kristin’s contributions to Maine’s System of Care expansion efforts were many including the development of a trauma-informed curriculum, the Trauma-informed Agency Assessment, and quality assurance work to imbed continuous improvement in the implementation of trauma-informed practices while caring for young people in Maine. 

After a move from Portland, ME to Portland, OR, Kristin re-connected with Youth MOVE National and started as a Youth Program Specialist. As Kristin’s love for policy, data, and evaluation grew, she found herself pursuing her Masters in Public Policy at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School. One of Kristin’s first projects was to conduct the Children’s Mental Health Initiatives’ National Evaluation Youth Stakeholder interviews (the federal effort to evaluate outcomes from System of Care grantees). This work involved spending long hours in one-on-one interviews with youth coordinators, learning about their work, barriers and facilitators to youth engagement, and outcomes. It was in this work that we found out how effective an advocate Kristin could be. These interviews contained hard truths about how difficult youth organizing work could be in communities, and while most of us looked at the summarized data, Kristin held the stories in her heart. Because of the interview findings and Kristin’s advocacy, Youth MOVE was motivated to get more involved in the National Evaluation design, the publication of the findings, and taking action from what we had learned.

It is with Kristin’s energy and passion at Youth MOVE that we established and sustained the Youth Best Practice Committee which now serves as a broad infrastructure for youth voice to embed across our portfolio. Kristin helped us craft our growing research agenda and found our voice in youth-adult partnerships in research. We constantly try to figure out how to share highlights of this work on social media but updates on HEDIS measures for adolescent depression just don’t seem to jive with the algorithms. Even so, participatory action research and youth co-design will remain a key part of our work at Youth MOVE, thanks to Kristin! 

There are too many contributions to name but let’s celebrate one more! Kristin has served as our first Project Director of the Youth MOVE National Peer Center, a program we are all quite proud of! Kristin’s vision of the youth peer support movement challenged Youth MOVE to grow our training and coaching portfolio for youth peers and to step into our role as national leaders in providing implementation and sustainability coaching for communities across the nation. 

We are going to miss Kristin greatly; she has been such a bedrock part of our organization, helping secure a variety of grant and contract-based funding, making important decisions about the future including strategic planning, and aided in hiring new staff as our small team gets larger! And we will miss Kristin as our friend and colleague – the one who always has a dog interrupting the Zoom meeting, the one who serves as our in-house astrologer, and the one who will eventually open an animal rescue in the mountains (or at least continue to maintain a house full of pets).

Kristin is excited to continue working in youth advocacy, policy, and data/evaluation and is currently open to new opportunities! You can send well wishes to Kristin at kmthorp@gmail.com

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