When I think of Voices for Children I think of my mother. The primary photographer for many of their early years my mother would tarry us from location to location shooting single mothers and their children on black and white film, in the late 80’s. She spoke of this place often, but I didn’t know what it was. Later, in adulthood, I was brought on to do some video work for their yearly gala fundraiser–and I learned quite a lot about the what it is Voices does for the children of Nebraska. And it was staggering. Now, as a mother, I truly understand the necessity of this work-and want to share it with as many people as I can reach.
VFC becomes the voice for children on the legislative floor and across health, safety and educational policies, where the people who are most affected, go unheard. They are there, in Lincoln, holding court with our state’s decision makers to ensure that children in this state are heard, accounted for and taken care of. I couldn’t possibly list everything that is needed from Voices for Children, nor everything that they do. The list is long and hard to understand. In a nation as wealthy as ours and a state so robust with agriculture, why any child would go without, is an anomaly. But unfortunately, NOT uncommon.
Only a handful of women have headed this group since it’s inception in 1987 by Kathy Bigsby Moore. And right now, leading the team is Aubrey Mancuso, Executive Director. Aubrey has this communicative style that is both forthright and accessible. She’s straight to the point, focused, but also quick to crack a smile. It’s that dichotomy unique to people who share both East Coast and Midwest sensibilities–something I relate to and enjoy. Aubrey has stepped into the role determined to continue the fight to have the voice of Nebraska’s most vulnerable, recognized and respected.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I think the biggest thing is knowing that the work that were doing makes a difference for kids that’s my primary motivation.
What is your motto/mantra?
I like “Be Kind, Work Hard, Stay Humble.”
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life when it comes to what you do?
My kids. I look at them and think of what I want for their lives and I think that all kids in Nebraska deserve every opportunity to succeed.
What are your personal core values?
Honesty and fairness.
Why do you do what you do?
I think I’m struck by the fact that Nebraska is such a great place to be a kid and to grow up and have a career, but that’s not true for all of our kids. We try to do the work we do to give kids a voice among policy makers so that their needs are given the attention they deserve and to level the playing field, so that kids who aren’t as fortunate in their birthrights succeed also. So thats why we do what we do.
3 Things you can’t live without.
Coffee, my family and vacation
What do you want people to know about your job?
We just hope that more people will find out about the work that we’re doing and share our collective responsibility for the next-generation of Nebraska kids. It’s up to adults to make the decisions that will have an impact on their future and we need to be consciousness about how we do that.
Who is your rock?
Working at a Non-Profit in Omaha is:
Full of lots of opportunities and challenges.
What is the biggest unfairness in your world?
To me its that a child’s zip code or race has such an impact on their future. Kids can’t control the circumstances that they’re brought into and it shouldn’t control their future.
What is the biggest joy?
When we see a policy change that we’ve been working on for a long time and see that policy actually pass its an exciting moment.
Something you think but never say.
I probably say most of the things I’m generally thinking, but if I’m not saying what I’m thinking– I usually say “Thats interesting” which means I totally disagree with what you just said.
Quote that just “gets you.”
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
What is your theme song?
Hit me with your best shot by Pat Benatar.
How can people be involved in your organization and why is it so important?
New Jersey senator Cory Booker said “Our kids are our states greatest natural resources.” There are lots of ways to be involved. Get our emails and like us on Facebook. Follow legislature and reach out to your own state senator. We have our gala every year and we ask people to join us at that!
“Children don’t work on political campaigns, rarely talk to the media or testify in the judicial or legislative process and often can’t keep themselves safe, nurtured and healthy. Many children don’t even have a significant adult in their life capable of meeting their daily needs, much less speaking out for them. Voices for Children in Nebraska gathers information about those areas of need and disseminates that information to people who can make a difference in the lives of all Nebraska children.”
– Kathy Bigsby Moore, Founder
If you are interested in some of the policies that Voices for Children have been a part of here is a list!