#45: Empathy and Advocacy with Heidy Kellison

Heidy Kellison is many things for many people, some of which include writer, who specializes in political non-profit communication, founding President of Friends of The Yolo Crisis Nursery, and Commissioner for First 5 Yolo. As a mother, Heidy is active in K-12 educational policy making, including local parcel tax campaigns, and homework policy reform. Through the nursery and her other services, Heidy has have helped serve and provide resources for thousands of families.

She talks about the foundational importance of early childhood development, her love of ballroom dancing and the lessons she carries off the dance floor into the rest of the world, what The First 5 is and why you should get involved, and why having a community is so important.


[1:15] Heidy Kellison has over 25 years of experience serving public policy. She has served as a member of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services State Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Victim Services, was the former Press Secretary for the State Senate, and former board member/direct services volunteer for WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment), an organization which works to combat sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse/neglect.

[2:53]  Our early years are critical for brain development — in fact, 90% of human brain development occurs by the age of 5.

[3:45] Heidy’s first professional job was working in legislation and constituent work in the California State Senate, and was soon promoted to press secretary, where she caught on quickly and loved the work.

While in Sacramento, Heidy worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. When she moved to Davis, the Yolo Crisis Nursery was being formed, and the notion of it caught her attention. Here, parents who are at risk of abusing or neglecting their children can voluntarily place their children at the nursery and deal with their crisis. The staff works with the parents and families to help them with the crisis, whether it’s domestic violence, homelessness, substance abuse issues, etc. She wanted to tie together her work with WEAVE, and thus began the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

[5:14] There are very few government funds for crisis nurseries, and Heidy saw the need to raise funds on an ongoing basis. Now, over 20 years later, the nursery is going strong.

[5:27] The nursery can serve four children overnight, and twelve during the day. A fact that Heidy is proud of: 98% of the families served there do not go on to need intervention from Child Protective Services.

[6:27] Heidy’s goal is to have statewide legislation passed that would verify the results, so the legislature could realize the need for funding.

[9:18] Heidy dedicates much time and energy as a Commissioner for First 5 Yolo, a role in which she is honored to have.

[9:33] Proposition 10, the “Children and Families Act of 1998 initiative,” levies a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to provide funding for the sole purpose of early childhood development programs. The actor Rob Reiner was so deeply immersed in pushing the initiative through, that it was often referred to as the “Reiner Initiative.” Since then, First 5 is considered the primary advocate for the initiative. There is also more to come, possibly using cannabis revenues to support 0-5.

[11:05] There is a First 5 in every county, and many ways both financially and otherwise to get involved.

[12:08] Heidy, much like Lisa, is very passionate about ballroom dancing and finds many parallels between dancing and life.  They talk about how much they enjoy competing against each other. 

[12:38] Heidy shares how an accident resulting in a concussion led to her doctor suggesting that she invest more in ballroom dancing, even to the point where she entered in competitions.

[17:33] A lot of time and energy of Heidy’s may go to her Muscular dystrophy, but she takes from this a perspective on how important it is to stay connected and help others.

[21:41] Heidy suffered from postpartum depression after her child was born, and this helps her understand what it feels like to go through a tough time through a mother’s perspective, and how much people need others to step up and help in this critical time.

[27:30] Women have to reinvent themselves every couple of decades, causing a death and then a rebirth, a burst of something new. It’s a process that we all need support throughout. This is why it’s important to have a “tribe” and/or a community you can trust and connect with.


“I try to spend all of my best mental energy supporting young children because that is where we can make the most difference.”

“We have to make sure there are results and evidence-based decision-making when we are applying funds.”

“Everything whether it’s trauma, passion, or tedium, is dealt with on the dance floor. It mirrors life.”

“None of us do this alone. There’s always time to think about others, and what their needs are, in a way that is meaningful.”

“We are all connected.”

“We never run out of the possibility of continuing to build our relationships with each other.”

“If we can’t look outside ourselves, who are we, what are we, and what’s our worth?”

Mentioned in This Episode:

Earbuds Podcast Collective: Lisa's week of Podcast Curation featuring:  Finding Mastery – Jewel: Music, Insight, Community, Stellar Life Podcast – Sheila Kelley with The Movement of the FeminineFeminine Power Time  Stop the Madness, Lovelink – Developing Erotic Intelligence with Esther Perel, On Being – Joan Halifax

WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment)

Yolo Crisis Nursery

Friends of Yolo Crisis Nursery

California State Senate

First 5 Yolo

Proposition 10

Rob Reiner


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2018-10-18T18:02:32-07:00October 11th, 2018|Advocacy, Ballroom, Communication, Competition, Dance, Education, Family, Parenting, Teens, Women|0 Comments

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