A Word – Voices of Education, Social Justice, and Non-Profit

Tav Horne (he/him)

Resident Director – Housing & Food Services at the University of Washington


A Word is meant to center the voices of people working in careers oriented toward education, social justice and/or non-profit. Once a month, I will meet with professionals in these industry areas to learn more about their experiences and their role and highlight their insights in blog format. To kick off this plan, I met with Tav Horne who serves as a Resident Director in Housing & Food Services at the University of Washington. Read on for more insight from Tav!

What is your current role at UW?

As mentioned, Tav is a Resident Director with Residential Life in Housing & Food Services.

He describes his work as an advisor to students – focusing on growth and development amongst students as they live in community with others. While there’s samples room for enjoyment that comes from supporting development, there’s also an occasional need for difficult conversations and processing anything from mental health, classes, resources, experiences and more.

What aspects of your role allow you to educate?

There are both formal and informal opportunities for Tav to educate. Every year, Resident Directors have the opportunity to teach the EDLPS 496 Workshop: Education Programs and Problems, which is intended for incoming student leaders to build skills that are essential to fulfilling their roles as a resource to residents. Another opportunity to educate is through supervision. Tav stays committed to fostering growth in those he supervises by prioritizing care focusing on intentionally developing transferable skills that will them more effective as leaders and people.

What are the top values you carry into your work?

“Authenticity, Ambition, and Care” shares Tav. He went on to provide insight for each value.

For Tav, authenticity is not having to use something at the sacrifice of who you are. As educators and leaders, it’s important that we welcome experiences into the places we work. “Professionalism” as this idea that we our self and our experiences at the door can be a barrier and inhibit success is unrealistic.

Ambition in an inner feeling and a want to continue doing more – improving, growth, intentional. Growth + drive = ambition. It requires perseverance, which is the commitment and it carries an assumption of baggage. It says that challenge is present and the need for use and leverage of resources has occurred. There’s also the potential benefit that the commitment and effort your expending pays off for those who come after you. You can literally lighten the load for others.

Tav says, “Put care for people at the core of what you do, which includes their experience and understanding the impact to them.” Set the expectation of care and how it’s actualized early while staying committed throughout will allow for intentionally to create space for connection and wellness.

How do you define social justice?

Tav emphasized the value in breaking down the words. Justice calls for autonomy and responsibility to address our role in the impact, to take responsibility, and to pay reparations (heal and grow in this case). Social puts the responsibility of justice on every individual to figure out how to address the injustice and ensure the impact will not continue into the future. We cannot continue to put it (the expectation for action) on other people or systems. We are the only things consistent in every system; therefore, we have the power. It’s up to us!

How do you maintain a commitment to social justice in navigating your role at UW?

“By using my voice and acting strategically” shared Tav. We must remember that the reality is we are still in a system. Reflection and tact is essential to being heard. Acting without taking these pieces into account is how places and systems put up walls. You have to be strategic. Looking for the roots of the problem and identifying what ways will allow you to be most effective in removing them will keep weeds from coming back, if you will.

What is social justice done well?

“That moment when you exhale – when your body is relaxing and you feel power over your experience”, shared Tav.

What advice would you give to students and alumni hoping to pursue a path that involves some degree of education and/or social justice?

“Find quality mentorship”, offered Tav. He emphasized the impact of quality mentorship and its ability to transcend family, friends, insecurity, doubts, etc. It is powerful and foundational care. Mentors can be helpful in prioritizing care for you in your experience through processing, affirming, providing insight or advice, etc. They can connect you with resources and be one to you themselves. All with no expectation of anything in return.

(For more insights on mentorship, check out this LinkedIn Learning course – How to Be a Good Mentee and Mentor https://www.linkedin.com/learning/how-to-be-a-good-mentee-and-mentor?u=67682169)

For more information on education, social justice and non-profit, check out the Interest Community within the University of Washington Career & Internship Center. https://careers.uw.edu/channels/non-profit-social-justice-education/

By Melinda Gilliam (She/Her)
Melinda Gilliam (She/Her) Career Coach