Lacy Kendrick Burk is eagerly awaiting the completion on the construction of her new house. In today’s millennial generation, buying a home is the ultimate status symbol of “making it” or “adulting.” What carries exceptional weight to this symbolic life moment for Lacy is the fact that she has moved on average, at least once a year since 18.
Lacy’s experience in the foster care system, and the quest for purpose through trauma, has been Kendrick Burk’s personal mission for over a decade. Lacy’s experience with depression , homelessness, and other challenges, including the separation from her siblings, has guided her career with warmth, empathy, and relatability that is apparent when you meet her.
Now, The Founding Executive Director of Youth Move National, and Partner in the Consulting Firm Change Matrix, holder of two master’s degrees and winner of the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Voice Award in 2014, is embracing another facet of her identify as a mother (of an adorable baby girl, Gracy) and a wife.
Lacy had always been an entrepreneur with an eye for business and implementation, recalling a memory from the 6th grade. “ I set up an arts and crafts business at school, hiring my classmates and neighbors to help me. That was part of fostering my sense of independence as well as my rebellion.”
What sparked Lacy to ponder her own identity shift as we spoke was a memory she recalled when she was attending a Georgetown University Leadership Academy training. Lacy had always loved work, and had been immersed in it her whole life. Participants were asked to list the top 10 values they each personally held in their lives. Lacy soon realized that after the whole room shared their value list, and her list missed one common answer everyone else had – “family.”
Family was something that touched upon trauma for Lacy – as a teenager, Lacy and her siblings were put into foster care and was shuffled through the system. The statistics can seem grim for youth in our service systems, yet Lacy credits her success from identifying her unmet needs and receiving support for her trauma. Trauma, as we discussed, is not a one-size fits all problem, nor is there a one-size fits all solution. Both treatment and personal development go hand in hand. Although Lacy did not have true role models growing up, due to aging out of systems and the constant shuffling she credits numerous community support workers who have modeled who she wanted to be.
The modeling of behavior, not just though words, is something Lacy is passionate about, and something will continue with her first child of 10 months, Gracy, with her husband Greg “I have seen nearly everything the world can offer, and because of my experiences, I know Gracy will have a completely different life. I will be there to help her develop and inform her sense of self, and to be empowered.”
Learning all of the independent living skills, such as honing her public speaking and presence as a natural introvert, was an unfolding process for Lacy. She urges the practice of extreme self care as the foundation of her advice for everyone. “We all have a strong urgency to fix everything, but that needs to be ourselves first” she says.
One of the things Lacy admits gives her the most satisfaction are the initiatives that have a lasting impact. (Legacy of Lacy?) Those include resource development and implementation, and more specifically, her role in the passing of legislative acts, such as the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L. 110-351)
Lacy is tireless in her pursuit to have authentic youth participation in the mental health and foster care system. She knows that there is a real need for professional opportunities for youth, in tandem with support and opportunity. Lacy is proof that hope is always an option, and that breaking the chains of trauma is possible for all individuals, communities, and nations.