JEFFERSON CITY— Missouri Community Action Network (MCAN) welcomed Megan Bania as its new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3. She joins the association as the statewide nonprofit refocuses its efforts on serving both Community Action agencies and families living in poverty.
MCAN is the state association for Missouri’s Community Action agencies. Together, these nonprofit, community-led organizations serve every county in the state, providing services designed to lift citizens out of poverty and help them attain financial independence. Some of the programs ran by Community Action agencies include Head Start, LIHEAP, Weatherization, and SkillUP.
“I’m excited to contribute to improving communities in a way that supports those agencies directly working with families,” Megan said. “I think MCAN is uniquely positioned to help agencies enact lasting change in their local communities and within families across the state.”
“Poverty impacts everyone within a community,” she continued. “Families are fighting to make ends meet. We have people living in distressed neighborhoods. There are children going hungry. These issues impact all of us. Community Action agencies are actively working every day to address those needs, and MCAN will be here to support them in those critical efforts.”
Over the last few years, MCAN has faced a series of challenges and changes in leadership. Megan comes aboard as the association explores new ways of supporting Community Action agencies in the state and the clients they serve.
“MCAN is definitely in a transition period, but I think it’s in a great position to become a nimble, data-driven, and collaborative organization that plays an important role in connecting our Community Action agencies to one another,” Megan said. “We’re also well situated to raise awareness about poverty, advocate for systemic change, and help develop leaders within the Community Action network.”
Megan began her career in Community Action as a case manager in central Missouri, where she assisted low-income families and clients through the agency’s family development programs. She later served as a community organizer.
The experience helped shape her views of poverty and the role policy decisions play in addressing poverty at the local level.
“I realized that poverty impacts those experiencing it in many ways. A lot of families I worked with had to make impossible decisions which would leave them in hard situations no matter what they chose,” she said. “I saw the determination to make changes in their lives and the lives of their children – and I saw how policies impact families experiencing poverty. I was inspired to work within communities to help identify how different local policies, collaborations, and collective impact projects could make a positive impact on a child’s or family’s experiences.”
Before joining MCAN, Megan was as a data analyst with the Boone County Community Services Department, where she led community planning initiatives with a focus on addressing systemic inequity. She’s a licensed clinical social worker with a background in using micro and macro practice to create positive change for families and communities.
In 2021, MCAN celebrated 50 years of serving the Community Action network. And while that history is important, Megan said she is eager for the association to start its next chapter.
“I hope to help Missouri CAN transform and evolve to support Missouri’s Community Action agencies and all those they serve,” Megan said. “I am incredibly honored to be in this position and I cannot wait to start change making!”
To learn more about Megan, visit www.communityaction.org/MCAN-
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