Family Service of Roanoke Valley_Pillis

Mental Health Warrior: Karen Pillis

On the first day of school last week, it was the first time in over two decades for Karen Pillis not to have a child in Roanoke City Public Schools.

Or, as one friend of Karen’s put it, for there not to be a child born to Karen and Lewis Pillis in those hallways. Because there are plenty of kids with the Karen Pillis influence in every elementary, middle and high school in our city.

In honor of back to school and Karen moving her youngest daughter into a freshman dorm in college, this week we honor her as a Mental Health Warrior.

As a mother (by nature, nurture and every way in between), PTA representative on a variety of levels, Director of Youth Development at Family Service of Roanoke Valley, prevention and intervention advocate for youth, and more—all roles she fills with her signature passion and compassion—Karen lives and breathes kids.

She’s one of those among us who loves teenagers. As an adult, it can be hard to approach youth in that stage of life with open arms and an open mind. Not everyone can connect with teens or relate to them enough for them to open up. Karen constantly reminds us of the strength and resiliency our youth naturally have.

She lights up when she gets to work directly with youth. And she lights up even brighter when she starts talking about making connections among youth-serving organizations and efforts.

A connector, convener and visionary, the Roanoke Valley couldn’t be more fortunate to have Karen in our youth’s corner. Thank you for making waves and demanding attention for the positive influence our youth have on our community!