Faces of Walden

A Catalyst for Positive Change

By Kevin C. Thornton

Walking through her hometown of Philadelphia, Ivy Staten-Minor sees signs of urban decay all around her. But the graffiti-covered walls and abandoned car tires don’t speak to her of hopelessness; instead, they serve as a reminder to continue being a passionate catalyst for change.

Staten-Minor is many things to many people, and they’re all positive. She’s an activist and tireless worker on many fronts—and has worked for the Philadelphia Police Department since 2011, currently as a patrol sergeant.

Her positive impact on the communities and streets where she lives and works is more than just a job, it’s a calling. She seeks ways to find common ground, connecting with individuals on their turf and then training herself in new approaches to connect and heal.

“I joined the police force because I wanted to be the change I complained was so desperately needed,” she says. “I was willing to use my skills and experience in any way necessary to enhance my community.”

“I joined the police force because I wanted to be the change I complained was so desperately needed,” she says. “I was willing to use my skills and experience in any way necessary to enhance my community.”

That community enhancement has included working with elementary and middle school students for the past eight years through the nationwide program Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.), which brings together law enforcement officers and educators to help students learn to recognize gangs and resist them.

She also listens, looks, and acts—always seeking better ways to understand and communicate with those around her. As a high schooler in Philadelphia, Staten-Minor founded an organization called Mature Cradle, which taught local youth to leverage the performing arts as a communication tool. Later, as a police officer and social change activist, she recognized a need to communicate with the deaf community. She began studying American Sign Language (ASL) during her time as an undergraduate at Temple University and is now working toward National Interpreter Certification.

“When I meet a deaf person on the street, they’re so excited to see that I can sign,” she says. “That reflects that we care about them as individuals. I want to act as a liaison so we can effectively communicate in all different languages.”

“Working in law enforcement, I take great pride in maintaining a professional and respectable persona for the people for whom I provide a service.”

Staten-Minor’s studies at Walden helped her further develop skills that feed her passion for positive change. “At Walden, I learned that communication is so important in every profession,” she says. “The program taught me to effectively communicate, which has supported my efforts in the workplace and with the programs I work with in the community.”

“The number one category of complaints against police officers is verbal complaints, or how officers choose to communicate with the public,” she adds. “Changing that and communicating with empathy and understanding is something I’m focused on.”

Staten-Minor’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. In 2018, she was honored with a Mayor’s Philly Hero Award for her work with Philadelphia youth. In 2021, she received a community leadership award from the nonprofit group Philadelphia Legacies, recognizing her work as an unsung community hero.

But perhaps the best illustration of Staten-Minor’s endless and diverse passion for taking positive change to the streets came in 2021. That’s when she used her communication skills to craft a prize-winning essay for a contest sponsored by a local urban redevelopment foundation and the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts. The essay offered her insights on the chronic problem of illegal dumping in Camden and recommended a social media campaign and holding violators accountable. She won first place, providing yet another example of her boundless hope and energy and her efforts to drive and encourage change.

“As I pour into people, in some way I myself am replenished,” she says. “It feels great to know the work I do has positively impacted people.”

“I will keep being a catalyst. And I’ll do that by listening and empathizing and acting. It’s so important to listen and understand and respect others. That’s how you create change.”