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Poverty & Equity Thought Leadership

Building Resilience in Our Communities

For Troya Lusand Underwood Jackson, Families First Program Manager, the power of resilience to change lives is very personal. Troya has been part of Families First for more than 15 years but admits that it was not until she started leading the innovative resilience work for Families First that she looked back on her own personal experiences and wondered how she got through her personal obstacles. She realized it was her support system, friends, and spirituality that made the difference. Her ability to get up and keep going when life sent her curveballs is seen in the passion she has for her clients.

Troya loves working with children and families in many different aspects. She is a counselor, a support system, an educator and trainer, an advocate, a shoulder to cry on, and the one to provide a good laugh when needed. Troya obtained her Associate of Science in Psychology from Georgia Perimeter College in 2001, Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Georgia State University in 2004, and her Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia in 2005 through the accelerated program and obtained her Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in 2014.

“Resilience is important because a lot of people don’t understand that we all have it to a degree. How we utilize it and identify it helps us get through each of these trauma storm situations that may come from any social determinant factors that affect our lives. When we look at those things, how families are hurting and how they are not able to move forward and then we look back at how they got through it the first time and what was their support system to get another job, find transportation, secure childcare, we see that resilience piece. That’s what will allow them (caregivers) to tackle situations as they arise and come out of each of them stronger.” 

We recognize that the cycles of poverty are not broken by one program or service alone. Through our collaborations with our community partners, virtual services, and locations throughout the state of Georgia, Families First can positively impact youth and families in key impact areas including behavioral health services, maternal health services, parenting education, adoption support and services, and foster care. 

Troya sees Families First’s approach to resilience as the key differentiator between case management and the Navigator approach. “Case management is something everyone does, however with this new component, we are able to offer a different perspective and outlook, that guides clients to the services they need and allows our community partners to offer the services needed to meet the family where they are today and build off that for a stronger future. We provide the tools, resources, and connections to make their resilience stronger.”

Families who learn to leverage community resources, manage their emotions, and build new skills are more likely to achieve their fullest potential. Resilience is important because it decreases the effects of significant adversity on health and development; it enables adults to model healthy behaviors that increase the resilience of their children, it can be learning through proactive experiences coping skills and strong relationships and it can be measured. 

On June 9, 2021 Families First is connecting metro Atlanta to highlight our Navigator program’s ability to build resilience, showcase our collective spirits as the example for bringing social equity to the forefront and bringing UNITY to life. Unity for a Difference will recognize outstanding Atlantans and their accomplishments to build resilience and remove barriers to help families become stronger in the face of adversity including: 


Join our host Ella Dorsey, WGCL/CBS46 Meteorologist, and our chairs Dan Gordon, co-chair and Atlanta Headquarters Lead at Jabian ConsultingTori Forbes-Roberts, co-chair and Senior Vice President for Reservations and Customer Care Delta Air Lines and Shan Cooper, honorary chair and Executive Director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress for an inspiring morning.

Register to join us!  Unity for a Difference – Families First


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