Shirley Cain dedicates her days to serving people with chemical and mental health needs. As a human services representative in the American Indian Unit of the Behavioral Health Division, she manages grants and works with Native American and African American communities to address the opioid epidemic with medicated assisted treatment and wraparound services, including mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment from a cultural perspective to ensure continued sobriety and recovery.
Cain also works to help mothers who experience addiction and addresses the rising rate of substance-exposed infants. Due to her experience in that area, Cain was recently selected as one of 18 women from across the country to serve as an associate for the 2018 Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute, a program that fosters the growth of emerging leaders in women’s behavioral health services and strengthens their capacity to serve women with substance use and co-occurring disorders.
“My plan is to take all of the resources here that I’m learning, and take it out to the communities and share that with them,” said Cain.
Ultimately, Cain would like to see more women in leadership positions, and hopes that by sharing her experiences with the Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute, she can inspire women to follow her lead.
“That’s one of my dreams and visions throughout this program: What can I do in this program to help women empower themselves in the community?” said Cain. “If the women are empowered, then the men are empowered as well, and the children benefit too.”
Cain has worked for the Minnesota Department of Human Services since 2014. She previously served as project director for the Minneapolis American Indian Center. Cain has worked as an attorney, tribal court chief judge, teacher, tribal administrator and advocate for American Indian people. Cain earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Metropolitan State University and a Juris Doctor degree from William Mitchell College of Law (now the Mitchell Hamline School of Law).