After a career full of helping children and families, Nilda Townsend credits her own children as her biggest influences. Nilda retires this summer after nine years as a Family Support Specialist at Raising Special Kids, and she will be dearly missed!
From Puerto Rico, Nilda started her career as a teacher in a bilingual elementary education program there. She met her husband Louie, also a teacher, before Louie decided to join the military. His military career took the family around the globe including to Hawaii, South Wales Great Britain and Germany. They also lived in Texas before settling in Sierra Vista, where they’ve lived for the last 28 years.
As the parent to two adult children, a son and a daughter, Nilda appreciated teachers with a helpful approach, asking how they could support a student and family instead of pointing out challenges. This philosophy stayed with Nilda throughout her working life. Her children are now grown and both live in Colorado. Her daughter is an elementary school teacher and her son works for a broadcasting company, has a film company and also creates craft beers.
After taking time off to raise her children and travel with her family for her husband’s military career, Nilda spent professional time at nonprofits in southern Arizona including Project Me Too, a training program to help childcare providers prepare to care for children with special needs. She also worked for Easter Seals Blake Foundation as a developmental specialist with AzEIP, and with Catholic Community Services as an adoption specialist. It was her position at the Arizona Department of Education as a parent information network specialist that ultimately brought her to Raising Special Kids. When this position ended, Nilda was encouraged to apply here.
Over the years of talking with families at Raising Special Kids, Nilda said she learns a great deal from these families. “Every single family I’ve spoken with has taught me something,” Nilda said. This includes the importance of self-advocating and speaking up for herself when she felt she or her family needed support.
Once she retires, Nilda plans to continue her volunteer efforts with the Kiwanis Club of Sierra Vista-San Pedro and of course, she hopes to travel frequently to Colorado to visit her children. Raising Special Kids wishes you all the best, Nilda!