We asked Board Chair Tommy Hillman and spouse Evelena Hillman to share their perspective on healing our community and why they support The Family Partnership.
How did you get involved with The Family Partnership?
“I met Dianne Haulcy in 2009 at an event when we happened to be sitting at the same table and we connected right away. She was looking for a board member at Reuben Lindh (the organization she led prior to its merger with The Family Partnership). They had an early childhood education focus which was a perfect fit with my interests to help kids get a good start in life. Now I’m thrilled she is back as President and CEO of The Family Partnership.” – Tommy
What has kept you involved?
“I see the direct line between the work we are doing to support the organization and how that is helping people in the community thrive and lead more fulfilling lives.” – Tommy
If you don’t have strong families, you can’t have strong communities. Everyone needs to play a role in how we’re building communities and making them stronger.Tommy Hillman
“I see myself in some of the families, children and adults that are helped by the programs at The Family Partnership. To be honest, you’re just one circumstance or one opportunity away in some cases from being in a situation where you need services and support. I have been fortunate, but I understand that life is fragile.” – Evelena
What are your hopes for our community?
“I understand the challenges of growing up in the United States and being African-American and all the different things you face. I want to instill in our kids, and all youth, the idea that you have the power to drive positive change and make things better in the world.
What struck me when I did speaking to elementary and middle school kids about my career in North Minneapolis was that many of them said ‘Oh, I don’t think I could ever be what you are, ever.’ I said of course you can! You are just in third grade, you can do whatever you want. But they didn’t have that belief instilled in them.” – Tommy
I had experiences unlike anywhere else growing up with great schools in the diverse environment of North Minneapolis. My hope is that our city centers repair and grow to be a supportive beacon for the advancement of all people.Evelena Hillman
What do you want people to know about The Family Partnership?
“Initially, we became involved because of my interest in early childhood education. But now we understand there is a lot more to The Family Partnership’s services. For example, the pandemic made us more aware of the mental health issues people face. Quite frankly, The Family Partnership is serving communities where people would not have access to those services, because they are not going to be able to pay for therapists out of pocket.” – Tommy
I wanted to do board service just as a way to give back, but I didn’t understand how much it was going to change me, or how much I was going to learn from the experience.Tommy Hillman