COA Accreditation Volunteer Spotlight: Shelley Huseman
Through COA Accreditation, a service of Social Current, we seek to empower organizations to implement best practice standards to improve service delivery and achieve better outcomes for individuals and communities. COA Accreditation provides a framework to help organizations manage resources, incorporate best practices, and strive for continuous improvement.
We believe there is rich expertise in our field, so we ground the COA Accreditation process in our human and social services community. Our volunteer peer reviewers conduct our site visits and finalize accreditation decisions.
We are proud to spotlight the latest Volunteer of the Quarter: Shelley Huseman.
About Shelley Huseman
Shelley Huseman began her social service career in juvenile probation and corrections. After a difficult internship, however, she realized her calling was not with the probation department, but rather working with children and families. After the internship concluded, she accepted a position supervising visitation between parents and their children who were living in foster care.
While this work was more fulfilling to her, Shelley wanted more influence over outcomes. She became a child welfare specialist with a large agency and worked for several years assisting children, parents, and foster parents. Reunification was always desired when safe, and she worked diligently with parents to achieve this goal. Shortly after, Shelley was offered a supervisory position to assist other child welfare specialists in attaining reunification when possible.
Although graduate school was not on her radar, a degree was required for this supervisory role. As a new mother and full-time employee, Shelley went back to school to achieve her master’s in human services. She reflects on this time in her life saying, “while this was the most difficult time in my career, I would not change it.”
During this challenging time, Shelley attended a Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA) Conference in Orlando, Fla., and it was there she became acquainted with COA Accreditation. She was inspired by the message and vision of COA Accreditation and knew she wanted to be a part of it.
After obtaining her master’s degree, she applied to become a peer reviewer and attended the training. She completed as many site visits as she could while working full time and became familiar with the standards for the social sector. Later, she was asked to become a team leader and commissioner and says, “it was an easy decision.”
She worked as a regional director with a state-wide agency until 2022, and she now serves as a public service administrator for the State of Illinois.
What are your strongest beliefs about the value of COA Accreditation?
Every social service agency should be accredited with the highest possible standards, within a process that assists the agency and staff in becoming the best possible resource they can be.
What advice would you give someone interested in being a COA Accreditation volunteer?
Make sure you have the desire and ability to work with other professionals who are doing things differently than you. Remain open to learning different ways of addressing social services and embrace those differences. This is not an adversarial process and should never be entered into as one. We are here to assist agencies in providing the best possible services and it is our duty to provide the framework for them. Being a COA Accreditation peer reviewer is a very rewarding experience that allows the reviewer to learn and grow while providing a critical service to other professionals.
Share a memorable place, person, or experience from a site visit.
My most memorable experience on a site visit was when I got to meet and work with Social Current’s Director of Volunteer Engagement, Darrell Woodliff, for the first time. This experience even overshadows my visit to Hawaii, if you can believe that. I was instantly drawn to his kindness, knowledge, intensity, and humor. He gave me the standard of reviewer that I wanted to someday become, and I am still working on it 14 years later. I have had the pleasure of working with him since then and reach out to him often; he has never let me down.
What excites, surprises, and/or challenges you the most about the work you do as a COA Accreditation volunteer?
I love working with professionals from other agencies and states. I learn so much from each visit and utilize much of what I learn in my own management. I have also made many friends within the COA Accreditation peer team. I find it challenging when an agency does not agree with the standards. While this has only occurred on a few occasions, I believe in the standards COA Accreditation has established and know they assure the best possible practice from accredited agencies.
Learn more about how to become a peer review volunteer and apply online.