Hello Fellows: Meet Kaw Kee Lah
Wilder employees have the opportunity to apply for Kingston Fellowships, an honor awarded annually based on accomplishments, commitment to human services and leadership potential.
In March 2016, Wilder awarded fellowships to 11 employees spanning a variety of professional backgrounds. The fellowships help these professionals to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and develop innovative programs to address community concerns.
In “Hello Fellows,” we introduce the most recent cohort of Kingston Fellows. This week, we catch up with Kaw Kee Lah.
What is your role at Wilder?
I’m a targeted case manager in Wilder’s adult mental health services. I help ensure that clients have access to health care and are able to go to appointments. I connect them to resources that they need for mental health and social relationships. My job is to help clients be able to function well in the community. Part of my work takes place at the Center for Social Healing. I work with a group of Karen members who gather once a week. I’m a member of the Karen community in Minnesota.
I’ve worked at Wilder for 2 ½ years. Previously I worked in Saint Paul Public Schools as an educational assistant. I helped the Karen students in the classroom with coursework, with helping with cultural understanding, interpreting and information that helps them understand the school setting.
Why did you decide to pursue this career?
I graduated in 2014 with a degree in human services. I like to help people and I like to use my skills in this field. I like working together with people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and I like to learn as I am working. Some people really need help, like families who are new to the country, or families who have mental health problems and have barriers that mean they can’t get access to the care they need. When I am able to help them and guide them to what they need, that’s rewarding.
What will you use the Kingston Fellowship to achieve?
I’m pursuing a license drug and alcohol counseling. I expect to finish it by the end of the year. I have seen that in the community, especially in the Karen community, there are a lot of barriers to help with drug and alcohol needs. People may not know the rules or laws, they may have problems with DWIs, and they need help to get counseling and more education. As I’m work here in targeted mental health case management, I see a lot of co-occuring mental health and chemical dependency needs. If I can gain skills in chemical dependency treatment, I can more effectively serve people.
What unmet need in human services does your fellowship fulfill?
With the community that I serve, some people who need chemical dependency treatment have a hard time going to different agencies that don’t have culturally specific services. Different cultures have different things that people have been through and different points of view. If we don’t have culturally specific services, it may not be as effective.
Do you have an experience with diversity and cultural competence that you have encountered in your work?
When I worked at Saint Paul Public Schools have been with kids and adults from many different cultures. At Wilder here I have encountered with other ethnic groups, such Vietnamese, Hmong and other communities. I’ve just learned a lot from them.
Kaw Kee Lah works in targeted case management in adult mental health at Wilder.