Amy Mills is a board member at Mikva Challenge and the vice president of Client Partnership at the Allstate Insurance Company. Her passion for understanding human behavior and motivating them to become their best selves has made her an inspiring leader. We sat down with her for a chat to learn more about her background and her passion for action civics and youth development.
Tell us a little about yourself. What were you like in your teenage years?
I think one of the things that stood out for me growing up was this constant asking of why? I had the benefit of a mother who, for whatever reason, also asked why throughout her life as well. So I was provided with a lot of space for that, and the thing that I learned through life was how to do that in a way that wasn’t just being counter cultural or being provocative. But really doing it to pause and understand the reason behind an action. It got me involved in Student Council- it got me involved in pretty much anything where there was a platform for student voice. So that is was who I was as a kid- always trying to connect the dots and understand, rather than go through the motions of something.
Tell us about your journey to Allstate.
You know it’s interesting, because growing up I was only interested in being a teacher. As I got older, I realized I wanted to work with older kids to get into meatier things. I went to college and I found Psychology as a major and it provided me with a framework of how humans think and it took me down a different path. I wound up, oddly enough, in corporate America after a friend who worked at Starbucks passed my resume to another friend whose mom happened to be senior leader in the Allstate Human Resources Department. So I got a call to meet with them, and the rest is history!
I stayed there for a couple of years, left Allstate and worked for a few other companies, but Allstate drew me back in after a while. I think I really like the foundation of who they (Allstate) are, what they stand for, how they really connect to a purpose and feed the community.
I enjoyed being in Human Resources (HR) for most of my career because it ties me back to the roots of what motivated me always, and that was human behavior. I’m really interested in how humans connect, how they act, and how they support each other, and HR really gave me the perfect avenue to explore these things. As the Vice President of HR at Allstate, I now have the opportunity to work with senior leaders who have an impact on thousands of people in the work environment.
What inspires you about Mikva Challenge?
The work that Mikva Challenge does on youth empowerment and action civics, and the power of that influence in the community is really second to none. When I was introduced to Mikva Challenge and saw first hand how it makes civics tangible and not just academic, I knew it was an organization that I wanted to be a part of. It provides youth with just enough structure with enough autonomy to really feed that fire of civic engagement. I thought it was brilliant, and also a perfect match for my passion and experiences.
I also found their model of applied learning very exciting! I saw first hand how young people were able to identify barriers, prepare themselves for how they want to address those barriers, and get the support and tools they needed to crash those barriers down. So when I was asked to join the board, I knew it was the right fit for me.
What you have learned from youth at Mikva Challenge?
The power and the courage of the message from youth – whether it’s in speeches at Project Soapbox, or a Democracy in Action project, or one of the policies of our youth councils – continues to be so inspirational. It reminds me that we all need to have a voice, and to continue to be intentional about its purpose.