The Bounce Coalition is thrilled to welcome its new Co-Chair, Keith Hickman. Keith has served on the Bounce Executive Committee since July 2021, serving on both the Education and Strategy Workgroups. Keith’s enthusiasm for the work and his ability to see the long-term strategic vision for Bounce has been a tremendous asset to the Coalition. We look forward to Keith’s guidance and leadership over the next several years. Learn more about Bounce’s new Co-Chair in the interview below.

What do you do at the International Institute for Restorative Practices?

I am the Executive Director of Collective Impact at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP Graduate School). We are the world’s first accredited graduate school that specializes in studying the field of restorative practices, providing education, research, and consulting services. The IIRP also supports students and community leaders with the tools they need to transform relationships and effect change within their own lives as well as their schools, their organizations, and their communities.

Our mission is to is to strengthen relationships, support communities, influence social change, and broaden the field of restorative practices by partnering with practitioners, students, and scholars. I also build alliances with state education departments and national collaboratives committed to the well-being and flourishing of all students in K-12.

In my role as Executive Director of Collective Impact, I collaborate with partner organizations, both domestically and globally, to pursue the IIRP mission of positively impacting social health. As a staff member of the IIRP executive body called the Committee of Whole (COW), I lead the Outreach Unit, a team of resolute professional here in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, committed to serving the mission and business pillars (education, research, and consulting) of the institution.

How does the work of Bounce connect with your work at IIRP and vice versa?

Our shared purpose is about the health and well-being of students and families along with building more connected communities. Specifically, our commitment to reducing adverse childhood experiences (ACES) through developmental relationships and participatory engagement and learning through training and coaching, presents an opportunity for both organizations to build join ventures around a common agenda. Restorative practices is an approach used in many school districts around the state of Kentucky including Jefferson County Public Schools and Fayette County Public Schools. Our continuum of practices is supported by various stakeholders in rural and urban communities. For example, when Bounce talks about educating and training professionals and families to create a healing-centered trauma-informed environment, we know that to do such, relationships can be repaired, and communities must build the social capital necessary to move from high vulnerability to high trust. To move from what is wrong with me to what has happened to me in safe and relational approaches. To move from judging and punishing students when their behaviors are the result of trauma to creating learning and social environments that pursue social and emotional well-being over stigmatized shaming. IIRP and Bounce are committed to creating new opportunities.

What aspects of Bounce and being the co-chair of the coalition especially invigorate you?

The opportunity to lead a group of dedicated professionals that are in pursuit of something greater than themselves – human dignity regardless of our past traumas. It is the fact that Kentucky will always be my home state, it is still where many of my family members, colleagues, and friends live. And to serve the people of Kentucky in the way that we are doing through the coalition’s work is powerful stuff. It is the partnerships that are cultivated through trainings and networking, through policy changes, and new practices, from county to county is simply tremendous. At the end of the day, I get to help instill action behind hope and turn hope into change by simply using resources that can be a positive influence across every sphere in a county’s DNA. The KY Bounce Coalition under Kentucky Youth Advocates is on the path to create a movement across the state for systems change that create right conditions for professionals to make what is invisible visible for individuals, families, and neighborhoods impacted by ACES.

What is your hope for Bounce in the next 2-3 years?

My hope for Bounce is to build on the success of its compression plan from the past three-years by developing a comprehensive five-year strategic plan that uses data as its north star, training as its basis for knowledge integration, partnerships as the thread for collective action and impact, grand rounds as a way to build buy-in, belief, and social capital, and collective membership from all counties to use their voice and vote to influence policies that are in their behalf when it comes to the adverse community and lived experiences they are facing. I want to see a healthy Kentucky be a whole-state approach and not a top-down approach to fostering the determinants that result in healthier children and adults. Therefore, the next 2-3 years, there need to more stories about what is happening in Russell County. There needs to be an increased knowledge about what ACEs are about and more symmetry between policies, resources, practices, and people. There must be an incubator of committed stakeholders within the state strategically aligned to national thinkers, movers, and shakers.

How do you practice self-care?

I walk about 5-6 miles every day. Intentional walking just came to me before the pandemic and what I have discovered is that my mental health is being exercised. When I walk around New York City, I see all kinds of people expressing the pain and joys in their lives. I see how folk, and families celebrate alongside the Hudson River. I smell the grilling and hear Latin Jazz, and various music echoing off the river. I see diversity and how people are celebrating life despite their challenges. My ritual of walking and their ritual of social gathering is a unique experience for me each time I lace up and step out. For me, self-care is reclaiming time to slow down, pace myself, and allow my mind to go wherever it needs to be while my legs take me on the route that I have planned. This is truly how I practice self-care.