In this episode, host Chris Nguon has the absolute honor to chat with Judith M. Hill, a dynamic program director with YouTurn, a brilliant violence prevention organization based out of Omaha, Nebraska. Judith takes us through her own healing journey over the years, including her pivot in how she views and integrates healing work as a leader in her organization and in her community. Judith also gives tremendous and in-depth context on the process of healing for young people in 2021, the uniqueness of how the work has shifted over the years and breaks down the many ways that practitioners can show up for young people – and themselves.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Ms. Judith Hill it is such a pleasure to have you on the Carma Chronicles. How are you? How's everything your way?
Judith M. Hill Going well, thank you so much for having me here in the big always we call it the Omaha, Nebraska in the middle of the United States, we are doing very well.
Chris Nguon (he/him): No doubt was such an honor to have you, you know flourish agenda has done some work not only with you, your organization, but a lot of folks.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Over the past year or two in North Omaha and some folks around the country who might not be familiar with Omaha they're like North Omaha that's really interesting so very, very high level.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Give me a little rundown about your community about North Omaha about the work that you do on the ground and your team does a u turn.
Judith M. Hill: Okay well Omaha we are the largest city in the end Nebraska we have the largest population of people I should say of African Americans.
Judith M. Hill: We work in a in the Community, that you turn works with, and let me stop and say again you appeal you turn Omaha Nebraska program director with you turn the work that we do we work with.
Judith M. Hill: adolescence, and we work with young adults well to 25 and older and we're really focused on the individuals that are being impacted by youth violence.
Judith M. Hill: Youth violence gun violence sex trafficking, domestic violence intimate partner violence that's the focus of our work, the target area that we work in.
Judith M. Hill: It is the urban area in our Community highly populated, as you can imagine, with any urban area around the United States, you know housing is not bad great.
Judith M. Hill: employment, education, all those disproportionately high a characteristic that we find in urban communities that's what we have here.
Judith M. Hill: Sometimes people say Oh, you know there's nobody out there are people of color or do you grow corn or is everything Cornfields and animals always smile and they're always.
Judith M. Hill: pleasantly surprised when they come and visit our area, but then again, I also have to laugh at myself, because we still have that agricultural mindset because it's not uncommon to look across the screen my neighborhood phonics and corn growing so.
Judith M. Hill: it's a wonderful Community it's a growing community and we're just so pleased to have been introduced to this process.
Judith M. Hill: The Healing Center.
Chris Nguon (he/him): So lowly Thank you so much for that context must do the fact that you know you've named a lot of things in your community in a lot of our communities that are so high priority for young people.
Chris Nguon (he/him): You know i'm curious you know you've done this great work for a while now, both on the ground and managerial positions and whatnot in so many different hats in the church and whatnot right.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Yes, where do you prioritize some of those high needs right like, how do you really deconstruct.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Where your focus is as a practitioner, because we all have a desire to kind of want to meet the needs of young people in all phases, but what is your process to kind of gather.
Chris Nguon (he/him): This is what we're going to prioritize now, while also keeping in mind, you know all of these other high needs as well.
Judith M. Hill: Well, I can tell you that.
Judith M. Hill: Unfortunately, the increase in violence in our Community is really driving our focus on realize the cure violence our global health model which says that violence is a disease.
Judith M. Hill: Any other pants like any other pandemic, like any other epidemic, it has passed from one person to the next fullbacks the core we look at our work, so you bet my just sticking my toes here because Chris is not by any means.
Judith M. Hill: A scholar in this world of healing Center in data, one of the things that is to me is that when you say what is the focus, how do you approach the challenges that that young people have in your Community first thing is to talk to them, because what i'm learning is that often we believe.
Judith M. Hill: As an organizational leaders and, while our commitment and our desire to do the very best and taking a collective experience that we have we sometimes will approach.
Judith M. Hill: The challenge my own lens which may or may not be really happening in the arts in the minds of our young, and so one of the things that we're learning as well, yes, you have some expertise we have some skills, we do have some knowledge base about this problem we have to talk to you.
Judith M. Hill: have to ask them what's going on and why, and then we have to be willing to listen, we have to be willing to listen and we have to be willing to elevate their voice.
Judith M. Hill: Being a primary part of our we began to work with them and we began to work alongside them to move them from where they are to where they want to be.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Absolutely, I think you bring up a great point and what you really touch on when I hear that is that healing really shows up differently for different people.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And the process is very different for different people you know, in your experience just even in the last year, as you know, the.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Unfortunate increase in Community based violence in our communities and here in Oakland as well, and all across our country.
Chris Nguon (he/him): How have you seen how healing shows up for young people, how do they contextualize it because they might not use that word healing they might not have the framework.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Or the vernacular to be able to bring those words out to the forefront, but everybody understands what they need to heal to a certain extent, where do you see that show up in young people.
Judith M. Hill: In their creativity.
Judith M. Hill: In their artistry.
Judith M. Hill: In their desire to utilize.
Judith M. Hill: spoken word.
Judith M. Hill: Lies rap to utilize Community activism, in order to be heard.
Judith M. Hill: And you know, following the tragic loss of George Galloway our Community rallied and it was absolutely amazing to see our young people.
Judith M. Hill: The same individuals that data statistics and our own sometimes prejudices as adults, say, these are the problems to hear them lift their voice individually and collectively.
Judith M. Hill: And articulately and having a really assessed, where they stood and what they wanted this community to hear it was there that, at least for me I recognized at.
Judith M. Hill: There was healing in that opportunity there was healing for them, for the first time to be viewed in a positive way for their voice to be heard in a positive way and I can tell you that for that kind of this, you will see their artistry.
Judith M. Hill: It has elevated will see their desire for the spoken word it has elevated and there are Community partners and organizations that recognize, we have to grab a hold.
Judith M. Hill: Of this desire for our young people to recognize that we are greater than our trauma and then we recognize we recognize that we are traumatized from degree.
Judith M. Hill: We also recognize that we have something to offer we have something to give and we have an opinion.
Judith M. Hill: about this community that we live in, and this experience that we've gone to through individually and collectively, be the Community begin to galvanize around those voices, is that we are writing process of healing Center and engage.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And the adults practitioner candy adult Community organizer.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Really tap into that you feeling space, together, have you seen that happening, and so, how.
Judith M. Hill: In some small ways.
Judith M. Hill: By opening up some organizations, opening up their doors.
Judith M. Hill: Opening changing their programming structure.
Judith M. Hill: creating opportunities for young people to have a voice in the direction of where the organization is going, but by and large, we are a community that.
Judith M. Hill: Is we are starved for a understanding that we have yet to be.
Judith M. Hill: In that we feel in many ways, and just allow me to stop for a second and say kudos to flourish.
Judith M. Hill: To Dr King right, I am just as I read his work, and when I look up healing 38 he is at the top of the list you hear from him.
Judith M. Hill: about his commitment, this idea, this process, this way of thinking and moving it chef it's amazing so a part of that, looking at it is, I believe that we are still at unity that focuses well meaning, though we may be in the idea of from.
Judith M. Hill: trauma informed care, and you know we we we base many of our programs and our approaches around that concept and and and in one of the articles.
Judith M. Hill: That i've been right Robbie young man said to him i'm more than what happened to me, I think that we now need to embrace this idea of healing.
Judith M. Hill: And how do we begin to speak life into our young people, how do we begin to get them to see that the trauma that they're so much more than their trauma, how do we begin to.
Judith M. Hill: tap into their creativity their desire, where they want to go, how they want to live their wives, the dreams, that they have that's where I believe that our Community and our leadership.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Absolutely no Thank you so much for that, and I think that's really what healing centered engagement focuses on and really tries to send.
Chris Nguon (he/him): that the young person that the adult that all of us collectively in this organic mechanism that we live in.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Our more than our trauma, both individually and as a Community, you know and florists agenda was so honored and fortunate to work with yourself your organization and a lot of organizations in North hall ma.
Chris Nguon (he/him): yeah over the past year, so.
Chris Nguon (he/him): i'm really talking about and thinking about healing Center and engagement from a Community standpoint.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Yes, as you take a step back and think about you know our work together and you think about this healing Center model and you think a bit from implementation from a Community lands where have you seen that just in your experience, even in just north.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Omaha where have you seen it show up and where have you seen it in terms of you know where it can go, maybe even in the next three or four years in your community.
Judith M. Hill: I think that, at least from my leads that we are very much we've had a year, together, we are on a ass of personal and collective growth.
Judith M. Hill: I think that we have had the opportunity to bring together a group of leaders professional practitioners in our Community, the north Omaha collective.
Judith M. Hill: And we have had an opportunity in this small room of about 13 to get a taste of, and I certainly don't want to listen to believe that were much further along than we are.
Judith M. Hill: In a taste of what this healing centered engagement process is all about gone from a group of individuals who, quite frankly, in themselves, needed healing.
Judith M. Hill: didn't know it, but didn't know that there was a process to go about this healing and finding ourselves within this last year feeling comfortable.
Judith M. Hill: to lift up that individual in that collective trauma to realize that what i'm feeling that happened to me in my community and it might work in my growth throughout.
Judith M. Hill: My professional process and it wasn't just sometimes what was happening to me it was sometimes what was happening, when we were experiencing collectively.
Judith M. Hill: And wow in the past, I would have come in the room, and my problem would have been with you.
Judith M. Hill: I might you know i'm still having an issue with you got funded and I didn't you were on this committee and I was not that we began to recognize more of me, but we had to begin this from a global perspective.
Judith M. Hill: Before, for me, I have to be honest with you until you have to start with me.
Judith M. Hill: And I had to realize that I can't be a part of a collective individually.
Judith M. Hill: And so, for me, I must tell you that we're on a parallel.
Judith M. Hill: The fields on the path that also is traveling along that same path with that group of.
Judith M. Hill: I'm able to be a work with on this whole thing on moving away from the trauma that trauma and understanding my trauma to recognize that it is an individual group.
Judith M. Hill: And anybody that was involved with me in those processes, we all were impacted by our why began now to quite frankly find a desire to.
Judith M. Hill: Find a find a way of telling myself that it's okay to heal and to heal together and to then take this process that we're walking through and that we're learning.
Judith M. Hill: and boldly that's the word that I love to live boldly began to speak it into existence and I will read it, and sometimes that can be a challenging process.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Or that sob Thank you so much for that, and I think you know you touched on so many things there, and one of the things that.
Chris Nguon (he/him): I really heard and resonated to, as you know, I put in some years myself in this practitioner work or whatever it is that ultimately we want to call it.
Chris Nguon (he/him): how important it is to Center ourselves, so we can Center other people, yes and it's a process it's a process and everybody's on a different process right, I think.
Chris Nguon (he/him): From your experience just not only with us, but just collectively, you know just growing up and working in North Omaha you know how important is it to really Center yourself, and I think it's also important to reframe, as you say that it's okay to Center ourselves in this world.
Chris Nguon (he/him): That is not just about.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Who we work with at all times, because we need to be whole as well, what is your process like what is your healing process now what are some of the actual practices that you.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Really, engage in and holistically what are some of the things that you really reframe in your heart and your soul and your spirit to really stay on this healing journey.
Judith M. Hill: Chris for me.
Judith M. Hill: It first of all, it.
Judith M. Hill: moves from not realizing that I was trump.
Judith M. Hill: That was the first thing I realized is not coming to the realization that trauma what that means and how it impacts you and I’ve worked, unfortunately, not by myself I’ve worked in this Community for years wounded.
Judith M. Hill: On aware.
Judith M. Hill: Responding leading to directing creating out of my trauma.
Judith M. Hill: wondering why I haven't been.
Judith M. Hill: wondering why that initiative further wondering why I could not have motivated that fee to look at things from.
Judith M. Hill: We are live chilling totally consumed in my own trauma personally in my life growing up professionally in the Community that I’ve worked in.
Judith M. Hill: Not realizing that a lot of times I wasn't willing to dramatize people we've always been traumatized you know your product triggered by Tom and because that as a genuine argument all in our session.
Judith M. Hill: will never work together in this Community as an organized not realizing that we came into that process completely unaware.
Judith M. Hill: That now that I began and I’ve been on this journey, I would say, for about the last five years.
Judith M. Hill: Because the reality is there came a point when I said, if you're not learning and you're done.
Judith M. Hill: there's no way that I’m ready to die, so let me begin to grow, so I began to process this whole thing.
Judith M. Hill: Then I got caught up in my own personal commentary everything's about Judith and everything so as I began to get into this healing Center work I realized.
Judith M. Hill: I also had to recognize that I had to be willing to embrace that I had so what I’ve learned is I’ve learned one, and these are all things that I’d notes that I’ve taken enough learned through this process or the number one is empathy is to be able to recognize able to recognize.
Judith M. Hill: I am and who, others are in the room, and in the space that we occupy together and then how began to support and to begin to dream again.
Judith M. Hill: To begin to actually sit in a room and believe that that it's possible i'll tell you i've been one of the biggest naysayers and most rooms that i've been on that.
Judith M. Hill: we've been 20 years of the thing will happen you can't do that we don't have this money's not there, the structure is not there, the powers that be won't listen to us it's because I stopped dreaming and believe in years ago.
Judith M. Hill: Years ago, and I could literally take a whole world turned upside down it not believe or part of this process has taught me to login.
Judith M. Hill: To basically focus in on my skills ability and the power of the things that came out of my trauma.
Judith M. Hill: Yeah, a lot of positive skill sets came out of that trauma that you're now building on that you didn't even realize it so for me, they say that you cannot begin to change, but then you can acknowledge.
Judith M. Hill: and recognize that you need to change, and so, for me, I’m on a journey now realizing.
Judith M. Hill: being honest with myself being forthright and also understanding now because it's not that I’m you know it's not that I’m way up the road I’m just traveling what.
Judith M. Hill: That when I’m in those roles, with people who may not be in the same space, I am in at this point in my career to understand and to recognize what I’m looking at and to find the opportunity to be able to appropriately respectfully.
Judith M. Hill: introduce some of these concepts from a positive skill building dream building perspective.
Judith M. Hill: it's interesting it's a fun process now I feel a lot steel.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Oh. wow.
Chris Nguon (he/him): I just almost want to pause there and just rejlect on to see him in that last minute and a half right there because that's so deep and so much introspection about how we think about this word.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And I can imagine you know, in some ways, you can almost describe when you're talking about working with someone who's not as far along in this process.
Chris Nguon (he/him): In some ways, you can almost say you're looking at yourself your younger self and giving your younger self compassion.
Chris Nguon (he/him): and empathy and allow the way it's right wow that is so deep miss Judy where do you see this healing work going in this next and transforming and evolving over the next three to five years.
Chris Nguon (he/him): You know, because we florists agenda, and you know our commitment to healing Center the engagement is really because we believe in network.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And I really believe.
Chris Nguon (he/him): That centering young people and the grown folks work with young people in acid building way is the paradigm shift that we knew, yes, because everyone deserves healing where do you see healing really going and really transforming you know the next five years or so.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And how we do it here in Omaha.
Chris Nguon (he/him): commit ourselves.
Judith M. Hill: And it is a journey, it is a learning opportunity, sometimes it means stepping away from my very important very involved life and being willing to make space.
Judith M. Hill: opportunity to learn and to grow simply going to blow it's going to take us light years into looking at our work and our collective voice.
Judith M. Hill: Over a different way.
Judith M. Hill: And I have to be honest with you said, will you be on this podcast I said oh I’m on.
Judith M. Hill: I’m just so busy stop and go.
Judith M. Hill: And I’ll be honest with you had I not taken some time to look at some things and go back and read some adopting the rights work out at home during.
Judith M. Hill: Celebrating this trauma the entire time to talk and I realized I gotta stop and I’ve gotta realize what's been offered.
Judith M. Hill: To me, individually and to this community and now I’ve got it began on a different path to recognize that we can the skills are so.
Judith M. Hill: Oh, my God it's almost frightening if you just look at the goals that we have in the ability we have for that paradigm shift in this community of collective opportunity that we have but we've got to be true to the journey.
Judith M. Hill: we've got.
Judith M. Hill: It has to be a priority to us and we have to recognize that each and every day, you have to grow more and more and to get a stronger and a better grasp on and a clear understanding up in the end is going to place us in a position, able to better serve our young.
Judith M. Hill: be able to be clear empathetic.
Judith M. Hill: Often authentic voices to a community of leaders, and I can tell you, if we start this conversation today, they will look at us like we're crazy what, if I had.
Judith M. Hill: Enough info from outside the Community and get all excited about something that cannot happen, I believe that we are going to be able to.
Judith M. Hill: lead the movement and run it all on lead a movement of individuals, and I believe ready.
Judith M. Hill: For what we're learning and for changing how because I’m telling you what we've been doing a work on engagement, the case management locking them up, you know act on the basketball yeah that's wrong with it hasn't changed the way our young people are operating.
Judith M. Hill: acid, and so what it says is you can't keep doing the same thing, the same way.
Judith M. Hill: And when you are blessed and given the opportunity to see a new way you have to be willing to embrace it you to feel scenes way on the on the North Omaha collective, we were getting it, the question is, do we have the.
Judith M. Hill: Word I’m looking for, are we bold enough.
Judith M. Hill: to step out of our Conference and to speak truth our to what we're learning knowing and believing that it's going to make.
Judith M. Hill: If we are, it will.
Chris Nguon (he/him): wow I hear that and that's you know that's aspirational thinking that we hope can can really.
Chris Nguon (he/him): You know, be centered communities all over the country and really all over the world.
Chris Nguon (he/him): in their own way, because there are things in their themes that are similar and then their.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Challenges and beautiful skills build out of our traveled as specific to North Omaha is this epic la and all of those things well Thank you so much for that.
Chris Nguon (he/him): I think, as we wrap up miss Judith I think you know we live in, this is something that I asked all of our guests.
Chris Nguon (he/him): What is your advice to the new practitioner or the practitioner that's just listening to this podcast listening to our conversation right now.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And we're talking about healing work and we're talking about trauma informed work when we're talking about work with young people and work with our sales, what is your advice to them as they continue to show up through the best of their ability for the people that they work with.
Judith M. Hill: If somebody could have.
Judith M. Hill: could have.
Judith M. Hill: intervened it flourish agenda could have intervened in my life 20 years ago.
Judith M. Hill: And impacted how I thought and how I move.
Judith M. Hill: And young practitioners work.
Judith M. Hill: is to embrace.
Judith M. Hill: Your to make a difference don't ever lose sight of that.
Judith M. Hill: don't become caught up in the trappings qualities were campers.
Judith M. Hill: Because it's easy to get caught up in in the in the legal through the system and and many opportunities increased salary and positions and one organization, very quickly, I do self removed from the very passion that brought you into the world.
Judith M. Hill: Look in thawing.
Judith M. Hill: understand your journey we've all had trauma somewhere know your skill set match that trauma with your ability your dream, what is it that you want.
Judith M. Hill: hoping for your community and for those young people.
Judith M. Hill: And then, how do you stay true to that growing at growth process.
Judith M. Hill: I tracked along the way recognize recognizing that each moment from the time that you and I started Chris until now something in our environment has changed.
Judith M. Hill: move away from the thinking that the young person today is don't person I was know there are similarities, there are connections, but if you miss the opportunity to recognize.
Judith M. Hill: Each and every generation, they are new are resilient they are intelligent, they are articulate they are creating they are our future leaders, the you can see that are not.
Judith M. Hill: Stay connected to the beauty of the work that we're doing and that's hard sometimes and so that means sometime step away take a break stand outside.
Judith M. Hill: Look at the stars.
Judith M. Hill: Something or lose your passion for what it is that you believe that you individually and you, along with your colleagues collectively can do.
Judith M. Hill: leave this world, not just a little bit better, much better than we found it gotta stay connected to your passion, you have to always be willing to learn always more to learn so that's what I was very early on, find a mentor and the passion just.
Judith M. Hill: The work don't get lost in the work, the work can literally take everything from you and you just become another one of those people are pushing program agendas don't lose something.
Judith M. Hill: I wish it had been there, to tell me that all along, my journey to remind you, there have been times that I’ve just been.
Judith M. Hill: You know long.
Judith M. Hill: But orisha agenda finding.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Absolutely well Thank you so much, Mr Dave and you know the work that we've done with yourself and with the North omaha collective has really shaped our work with a better as well in so many ways and.
Judith M. Hill: Thank you.
Chris Nguon (he/him): can thank you and thank you all enough collectively, you know.
Chris Nguon (he/him): So it's been such a pleasure so much God I think that'll wrap up our conversation, but thank you, you know, thank you for taking time out of your day to sit here with us today and to give so much wisdom.
Judith M. Hill: It was an honor.
Judith M. Hill: Chris it's been a pleasure, thank you for now my words enough to be able to say, we can leave me is the highlight of my day in his life.
Chris Nguon (he/him): Absolutely well Thank you so much miss you have a great rest of your day.
Chris Nguon (he/him): And thank you for all the work that you do, and we will be interesting.
Judith M. Hill: Yes, Sir, you have a wonderful day as well.
Chris Nguon (he/him): me too, thank you.