We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracee Rudd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracee, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I hadn’t thought of myself as a big risk taker until a colleague said I seem to be open to taking risks. As we discussed that and I pondered I realized that I naturally was open to taking risks, so much so that I didn’t even see them as risks. At a young age I started to view my life as a journey and realized that I have been invited by the creator of the universe to join him in impacting the world around me. I started to live my life with my hands wide open and looking for opportunities and needs and I started to take what others would consider risks. My life and career have taken me on awesome journeys across the world. I got to be a part of starting an international school in Afghanistan. I left a job a few years ago so I could pursue starting a non-profit to impact kids that age out of foster care and ended up being the director of a local chapter of a non-profit that is changing the experiences and outcomes for kids in foster care. If I played it safe and had not been open to taking risks, I probably would have never traveled the world or been a part of amazing projects and probably wouldn’t have the kids that I have (none of my kids are mine by birth).
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My life has been a journey full of unexpected twists and turns. Being a young woman trying to dive into my career in the early 90’s wasn’t easy. I often felt like I needed to sit on my hands and not show my full skill set or passions in order to not rock the boat. Then when I got married in my 30’s and had stepkids it was hard to figure out how to pursue my dreams and be the best parent I could be. I just kept dreaming and learning. I was willing to work jobs that weren’t dreamy and to network and take risks. After various jobs in the non-profit world both local and abroad I wanted to dive into something that would help end the foster care crisis. In 2020 I landed a dreamy job and just as our youngest was leaving the nest we adopted a teenager that I met through my work.
I am the director of the Colorado chapter of America’s Kids Belong. We are working to improve the experiences and change the outcomes for kids in foster care. We want to spread awareness about the need for communities to become more Foster Friendly. We hope to empower businesses to offer support and discounts, churches to wrap around families that are fostering, and communities to be trauma informed. When I think about kids that are in foster care or have aged out of foster care I have specific faces that come to mind. My personal experiences help me to empathize and understand what is going on for families that are fostering and kids that are in foster care.
I am grateful to have learned so much over the years and yet still have so much to learn. I have learned that together we are smarter and more effective. That leads me to want to collaborate instead of compete with others.
I want the world to know that there are over 400,000 kids in foster care in the United States. And over 100,000 kids are waiting to be adopted in the United States. I know that not everyone should become a foster parent or adopt but I believe that there is a role that everyone can play to make a difference for these vulnerable kids. These are not the government’s kids, they are OUR kids!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would head into Longmont to check out a couple of the shops on Main St. and hit happy hour at Jefes. Then we would definitely have dinner at The Roost, our family’s favorite. We’d spend a day in Estes Park. Find a great place for a little hike and check out the shops, especially the Joy House. On the way home we’d stop at The Colorado Cherry Company in Lyons for some pie.
The next day we would go for a walk around Barefoot Lake and then we’d grab a board game and take it with us to Mountain Cowboy Brewery in Frederick.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My little brother, Todd Kinzle has always challenged me to think outside the box. In 2015 he shared with me that he had learned about the foster care crisis in Colorado and across the nation. When we learned that there are kids aging out of foster care we both wanted to do something to be a part of changing that. He sparked the idea and together we flamed it with various plans and also our families teamed up to do foster care. We both adopted kids from foster care and now we work for the same organization, America’s Kids Belong. We are working to change the experiences and outcomes for kids in foster care.
Other: email at email@example.com