First earning a bachelor’s degree in social science and Native American studies, Julie G. Taylor began her career as an intern with the National Indian Child Welfare Association. From there, she held positions in various local schools doing prevention and education and working with children with mental health issues and parents with behavioral challenges. These experiences furthered her desire to work more directly with her community and she obtained a Master of Social Work from Portland State University in 2011. Ms. Taylor subsequently joined the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, where she remained until 2014.
In 2014, Ms. Taylor achieved the position of director of the Department of Children and Family Services with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). This was particularly momentous for her, as she is of Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla and Chippewa descent herself and her great-grandfather, the late Chief Clarence Burke, was the chief of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation from 1936 until his passing in 1987. As the director of the Department of Children and Family Services, Ms. Taylor’s main focuses are child welfare and promoting the stability and security of Native tribes and families. She is responsible for overseeing operations concerning child welfare and protection as well as operations for adults, elderly individuals and veterans.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Taylor sees herself continuing to work with youth leadership and achieving new involvement with nonprofit organizations that would afford opportunities for travel and meeting people. Her past work has included serving as co-chair of the Nixyaawii Community School Board, the Head Start Policy Council, the CTUIR Youth Leadership Council and the youth committee of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. She has also spent time as the chair of both the CTUIR’s education committee and their Tribal Employment Rights Office and as a member of the Indian Child Welfare Act’s advisory committee. In her work with the Indian Child Welfare Act, Ms. Taylor’s focus is on family stabilization and helping families to obtain necessary resources and services in addition to the legislation’s main goal to provide standards for the proper foster placement of Native children and engaging the involvement of tribes and families in welfare cases.
Having accomplished much over the course of her career, Ms. Taylor considers one of her professional highlights to be the fact that she has twice been elected as an official for CTUIR’s tribal government, first from 1997 to 1999 and again from 2010 to 2011. She is also particularly proud of having noticeably decreased the entry of Native children into foster care and her tribe has become known for their model of prevention that keeps children within the tribe. For her excellence, she was named a Champion for Children by the Child Welfare League of America. Above these accomplishments, Ms. Taylor considers the most gratifying parts of her career to be working for her community and her family and making a difference in the lives of children.
Attributing much of her success to her outgoing, approachable, sensitive and compassionate nature, Ms. Taylor is also deeply grateful to the support of her family, which includes her mother, Marlene Taylor; her grandmother, Ellen Cowapoo Burke; and her four sisters, as well as their larger extended family. She notes that it was the foster care system that allowed her and her sisters to be raised by their grandmother. Today, she is herself the proud mother of two children, Jacqueline and Sidney Jones, and grandmother to one granddaughter, Brooklyn Jones, and hopes to be able to pass on her cultural legacy to them. When she isn’t working, Ms. Taylor enjoys spending time with her family, the elders and her community.
Ms. Taylor notes that it has been her Native American heritage and learning her culture that has enabled her to work so closely and effectively within her community and, in that vein, she hopes to leave a legacy as a dedicated and professional American woman. To young and aspiring professionals in the field of social work, she would emphasize the importance of having physical, mental and spiritual wellness for oneself when seeking to provide care for others. Ms. Taylor would further give the advice to express yourself, use your voice and strive to be a good listener.