Public Allies Class 2 Story Highlight:
We’re often told that success looks like going to school, moving away from home, and pursuing a career and then from there it’s all happily ever after. For Ally alum, Mitzi Wilson, it seemed that she was on that path. While that simplistic narrative makes it all seem so easy, we know life never fits neatly into any one box.
After graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2008, Mitzi worked as a Contracts and Compliance Attorney for a national grassroots behavioral health organization in Chicago and Boston. Mitzi greatly enjoyed working on the community level to provide culturally responsive program to communities of color. However, her heart was back home in Indianapolis. In the fall of 2009, Mitzi relocated from Chicago back to her hometown of Indianapolis to be closer to her family during her father’s illness. As Mitzi puts it, “I was struggling to get my bearings again.”
“A week after laying my dad to rest, I joined a group of strangers as an AmeriCorps Public Ally.” It was a hard transition, but Mitzi was excited about getting to further explore her passion for grassroots community development. Her time serving as a Public Ally provided her with the opportunity to build her life’s personal framework. “I had time to define what ‘success’ would look like for me and the legacy I desire to leave. This was important for me because my dad passed away two weeks prior to the start of my term. I desire for my work carry on his legacy.” As a recent law school graduate, Mitzi saw herself not as a lawyer but as a community advocate who would put her skills and talents to use to improve the quality of life for people in our communities.
While Public Allies provided her with the opportunity to learn more about Indianapolis and grow her knowledge around community development, it was also an amazing way to connect with other like-minded individuals. Mitzi met and bonded with other young adults who cared about the community and social justice. The connection with the Public Ally cohort helped her when she needed it the most. “It provided me a sense of community that was critical to my resilience. It takes only one positive relationship in your life to help you in adverse times. I had twenty!”
Mitzi remained involved with Public Allies after graduating. She kept in touch with the alum from her class. She also hosted a Public Ally, during her time at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. “With the support of a Public Ally from the 4th class, Jon Dawes, we created a free help-desk at the court for people with criminal histories to gain resources to expunge their records.” She later joined the INRC staff as the Public Allies Program Director. Since her time as Program Director, she continues to facilitate trainings and has served in a mentorship role for current Allies and alum. Needless to say, Mitzi developed a deep appreciation for Public Allies and sees it as so much more than a program.
“It is a growth process. Each person is on their own journey. It is up to each person to make the most of it, whatever that is for them. With that said, the Public Allies staff has a true heart to facilitate your development and to celebrate your efforts wherever they may lead you. I am forever grateful to all that I have gained through the program and the network.”