Kerri Strug understands the value of a support system. As an athlete, she was fortunate to be able to focus on her own dreams, knowing that she had a network of family, coaches and mentors behind her. Awareness of her good fortune shaped her interest in supporting youth.
Her father’s involvement as a mentor for a young man in their community also framed her outlook. “He knew it was important to support others. To see that he had a profound impact on this child, and that their time together was extremely meaningful—that helped me realize that this is important.”
Kerri’s career trajectory was influenced by mentors who led her to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), where she is a program manager and works closely with mentoring programs. In this role she helps to cultivate and assess programs that can enhance elements of effective practice and make a difference for youth across the nation. It is a role that connects her to National CASA/GAL, a recipient of an OJJDP National Mentoring Grant, where she sees parallels in the work being done to support children and youth.
“I truly believe that you can change the trajectory of someone’s life if they feel someone is behind them and supportive of them.” CASA/GAL volunteers are often the only consistent person in a child’s life, and this is beneficial for a child’s well-being. Whether through CASA/GAL programs or traditional mentoring initiatives, working with mentoring programs remains close to Kerri’s heart. “I was very fortunate, and this is my way of giving back in some way.”
Kerri was initiated by Kappa Alpha Theta’s Beta Xi Chapter at UCLA.
“People sometimes underestimate the value of their time or commitment, but one individual can really change a child’s story for the better.”