As the new Director of Epworth Counseling Center, Icelynn Baldwin hopes to cultivate a nurturing counseling center that is the catalyst to the healing of many lives.
Icelynn is a Licensed Independent Social Worker of Clinical Practice (LISW-CP) and has spent the last eight years working with and to develop programs for children, youth and families in residential, hospital and non-profit settings. Although, the foundation of all her experience is social work she has worked in other capacities such as quality improvement. She has been responsible for developing universal quality improvement plans for all funded programs at Children’s Trust of South Carolina, which include the integration of quality improvement processes and tools for our partners in Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program models, the Strengthening Families Program, and Triple P (Positive Parenting Program).
– I believe quality improvement is a critical methodology to ensure programs provide their very best so that families seeking support never have to accept a mediocre service as standard.
Icelynn’s passion is ensuring that children have support in developing themselves and surrounding communities are equipped with resources to prevent, intervene and treat. She holds dual degrees from the College of Charleston in corporate communications and sociology. She earned her master’s of social work from the University of South Carolina.
Icelynn is originally from Alabama and roots for the Crimson Tide but when they are not playing she is a loyal fan to the SEC. When she is not watching football, Icelynn loves to indulge in travel, sweets and any home décor store. She loves spending time with family, friends and her beloved sorority sisters.
Number of years in management:
Tell us about your path to management:
I have always wanted to do macro social work, but you gain a better foundation for change and respect from peers when you have been in “trenches.” Thus, I started my path doing direct services in a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) for children and teenagers but had volunteered for many years with non-profits focusing on the well-being of girls. After working in the PRTF, I found myself working for a children’s hospital implementing the start-up of a community home-visiting based program under the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant. I was able to polish my skills on program implementation and birth my love for data. During a site visit, the funders recognized my passion for the program and hired me as the state’s Quality Improvement (QI) Coordinator for the home visiting programs. I was quickly promoted to Quality Improvement Manager due to my innovation and strong desire to support the workforce. My success in quality improvement led to my goal to implement its methodology in direct practice, which I plan to do as the new director of Epworth Center for Counseling.
What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals?
Communication, innovation, self-awareness and vision to mobilize are the qualities that I find most effective in reaching any goal. A great leader learns to see the bigger picture from all perspectives to be able to mobilize in the most efficient way towards goals. Possessing great communication skills and self-awareness helps a leader delegate and share the vision with any team. A leader is only as great as their followers and only as successful as their last learned lesson.
How do you motivate your team members?
I motivate team members by cultivating an environment of shared ownership and highlighting their strengths. Building on any person’s strengths while nurturing their areas of improvement by cross-training allows the team to grow stronger. It also shows that you value them. Implementing cross-training or peer-to-peer networking enhances the team’s interconnection and potentially will impact the workflow.
I have learned from my former supervisors that creating an atmosphere where people love to come to work and are encouraged to collaborate makes success easier to reach in an organization.
Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey?
The families I serve, especially the teenagers, have inspired me along my professional journey. Their resilience refuels my tenacity when my perspective is “a glass half empty.” Others have inspired me to work diligently at mending society’s broken systems.
How has networking impacted your career?
With networking, I have been able to step into roles that are not the norm for social workers. I have been able to grow, learn and teach others the capacity of our field. As a profession we have so much to offer and it only grows through networking.
What are you reading and/or following now (books, blogs, social media groups, etc.)?
Right now, I am reading more about treating trauma for the LGBTQIA populations.
What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
Never put limits on your education based on what you like now. If there is an opportunity to learn, cease it! Our profession is multifaceted and so are the clients. You will need many tools in your bag to be successful. Great leaders not only have the tools but polish their skills often.
Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
I am the director at a new counseling center, Epworth Center for Counseling. We will work to expand statewide in the next couple years and will continue to serve all ages.
Also, I am working on a contract implementing quality improvement projects for many community programs. I hope to see more social workers become interested in research, data and quality improvement.
What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
I wish I would have known how much education was needed amongst other professions about the scope of our field. I cringe when media forms and other professionals put us in a box. We must work to strengthen the narrative of social workers.
Share a mistake or failure that provided the most growth in your career.
The most growth came from learning to advocate for myself in the workplace. You should advocate for yourself just as hard as you advocate for your clients.
Where can people reach you for questions (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail address)?