CEF Staff Highlight: Sophia Thayer

Meet Sophia! Member Services Coordinator

Sophia Thayer, Member Services Coordinator (Durham)

Your Role: In your own words, how would you describe the work you do at the CEF and why is it important?

As the Member Services Coordinator for the Durham office, I work alongside Members and external community partners and service providers, as well as Advocates and staff, to research, develop, and implement relevant resources for Members. Most of the resources center on access to housing, and other crucial elements folks need to thrive. I also help lead New Member Orientation and our food pantry.

Your Background: What experiences, strengths, and skills do you bring to this work at CEF?

My background is in case management, resource navigation, youth development, and food justice. Beyond this background, I try to be as authentic as possible and meet people where they’re coming from. I strive to always be learning and challenge myself to consistently check how my biases affect my perception of experiences and events. Overall, I believe I am an approachable and personable individual hoping to form long term relationships.

Connecting to CEF: What led you to working with CEF generally, and also to this particular role?

CEF’s commitment to justice and equity is what initially drew me to the organization. CEF’s belief that everyone is creative, resourceful, and whole resonates with me and is the basis of the Member-driven work we all do together. In my role as MSC, I attempt to provide a starting point for Members and Advocates to connect. Witnessing and taking part in human connection is a joy that CEF provides and values.

Energy: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF) where do you find energy and renewal?

At CEF, I find energy in relationships – deep conversations about experiences and stressors, celebrations when someone reaches their goal, and connections over a shared favorite. Outside of CEF, I find energy in very similar ways by spending time with loved ones.

Challenge: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF)  where do you find challenges and how do you seek to find the best way forward?

CEF and our Members, Advocates, and staff still live and function within systems that are set up for some people to fail and some to thrive. Systemic racism and capitalism are massive opponents. Sometimes, no matter how much work we put in, we cannot solve a problem. I think the way we move forward is first recognizing that the CEF model of long-term community is radical in itself. Secondly, we can utilize this community power to break down systemic barriers as best we can.

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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