Kelly McGuire

Kelly McGuire
Location: Missoula, Montana Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Behavioral and Mental Health, Community/Civic Engagement, Disability Inclusion, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Education, LGBTQ+ Health, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice, Sexual Health, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Rural Communities
Grants & Contracts Administrator
Missoula County Community Justice Department

What brings the most joy to your life? For many of us, it’s our relationships with the people we love. Having healthy and supportive relationships improves our mental and physical health, resulting in better life outcomes and making for a happier, more successful community.

Conversely, our close relationships can also bring trauma, distress, and physical injury or death when they are unhealthy or abusive. More than one in four people in the U.S. have experienced physical violence, rape, and/or stalking from a dating partner in their lifetime, with disproportionate impacts on people with marginalized identities. These experiences affect our health in myriad ways, including increasing our risk for anxiety and depression, substance abuse, suicide, and chronic health problems.

As a grant administrator for Missoula County, Montana, Kelly works to acquire and administer funds that support violence prevention as a strategy for health equity. She also acquires and administers grants to support crime victim advocacy and services, as well as implement innovations that improve the justice system’s response to victims, safely reduce the jail population, and address racial and ethnic inequities in the justice system. Her vision is a world where all people have access to healthy, safe, and joyful relationships.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Missoula Youth Engagement Project
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we as youth service providers and public health professionals have struggled to reach high school youth due to remote schooling and social distancing. As a result, there is a lack of information as to what teens are experiencing during the pandemic. Historically, youth have not been meaningfully engaged in public health decisions in Missoula County, leading to programming that likely does not adequately meet their needs and almost certainly doesn’t meet the unique needs of marginalized youth, such as youth who are BIPOC, LGBTQ, or have disabilities. Youth-led participatory action research is an approach to positive youth and community development based in social justice principles in which youth are trained to conduct research to improve their lives, their communities, and the institutions intended to serve them. My Missoula Youth Engagement Project will hire a group of high school student interns to participate in a project that will engage them in learning communication and leadership skills, conducting research to identify opportunities for youth health and wellbeing, and serving as consultants to their community’s public health professionals and service providers.

Kelly has worked in various roles in the domestic and sexual violence field over the last 15 years, including facilitating a group for people convicted of using violence and serving as a crime victim advocate, community educator, and grant administrator. In all her roles, relationships are central to her work. She brings core values of love and integrity to her public service at Missoula County and believes in the power of local government to be innovative, collaborative, and responsive in meeting community needs.

Click here to watch Kelly’s Legacy Project video.