Amber D. Ames, MSW
Amber Ames is the Executive Director of Stopover and a big believer in empowering young people to advocate for their own needs. A life-long resident of Indiana, she earned her MSW from Indiana University and has been on a mission to listen ever since.
When Amber was in high school, her life was turned upside down by a serious illness. Undergoing treatment that put much of her future in question, Amber was struck by how frequently the adults in the room spoke about her, but not to her.
“That experience of feeling invisible as a teenager made me want to go into social work. It was important to me to make sure that young people were heard—could advocate for their own needs and know that someone was listening.”
Rarely the first to speak, Amber believes that active listening is the first step in helping a young person help themselves – and equally important when collaborating with community partners. When Amber does speak up, it’s usually to ask, “What about the young people?”
Amber encourages staff and community partners to look at the big picture, knowing that no single agency or organization can provide everything that a young person needs to succeed. She encourages program participants and young people with lived experiences to get and stay involved in designing programs and mentoring others.
“When I was a young caseworker, I would get frustrated because the shelters had so many rules. Then I started running shelters and understood the necessity of the rules. I’ve worked in every sector serving homeless youth over the past twenty years— from street outreach to emergency shelter; program development to community planning at CHIP—and I’m convinced that we have better, long-lasting outcomes when we remove silos and listen to each other and the young people we serve—especially when designing programs! But there’s so much we can do for our young people and this city when we work together.”
Just the third Executive Director in Stopover’s 50-year history, Amber joined Stopover in 2012 and has not stopped asking “What about the young people?” since. She oversees operations, program development, recruitment, grant writing, and fundraising, and community coordination. In her spare time (hahaha!), she looks forward to weekend visits with her two college kids, Sam and Claire, watching HGTV episodes with her mom, and unapologetically spoiling her three Dachshunds, Daisy, Rosie, and Poppy.