Jennyffer Barrientos

Growing Up Healthy Director

Jennyffer joined HCI in October 2018. She is the director of Growing Up Healthy in Northfield and she’s a Family Engagement Navigator with the Northfield Public Schools. 

Where did you grow up, and how long have you lived in Northfield?

I went to elementary school in Minneapolis and moved to Northfield in seventh grade. I’ve lived in Northfield for 20+ years.

What is your educational and/or work background?

I graduated from Northfield High School in 2005. Most of my previous jobs were restaurant-based – I was a server at the Tavern and the Ole Store. I also worked at Three Links Care Center as an aide for 10 years.

Why did you take this job with GUH?

It was hard for me to leave Three Links because it gave me satisfaction that I was doing something good for people, that I was there for them and knew their needs. The Growing Up Healthy job fills that for me without the physical exhaustion.

What are your main job responsibilities?

Natalia (Marchan) and I do a lot of parent organizing work. We encourage Latinx community members to go to workshops, on topics like how to register to vote. We try to make them feel comfortable having their voices heard. Before COVID I did a lot of Home Energy Squad visits in the mobile homes. Now I spend a lot of time helping parents communicate with the schools.

What do you like most about the job?

I met a lot of people through the restaurant industry, and the conversations were always fun. In this job, I’ve met a lot of people as well, but it’s more nitty-gritty. Getting to know a person for real and being able to help so many people is rewarding. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job? 

Knowing when to turn my phone off. It can be hard to leave work aside. 

What are your hopes and dreams for the community where you work?

Northfield has done a lot of good work, but there’s more to do. I see a lot of people working hard to get where we need to be on issues of injustice and equity. Having stakeholders who are willing to listen and make modifications – who come up to you and ask, “What do you think we should do?” – that is a huge step on its own.  

What do you do for fun?

I love playing board games and building puzzles with my kids.