A Young Progressive Social Worker Advocating For You
Jordan Zema is passionate about service leadership. During undergraduate school, he started as a hospice volunteer and spent time providing companionship for sick and elderly Mainers who were nearing the end of their lives. Through a research project during his senior year, Jordan took a deeper look at how our healthcare system and the availability of resources played a direct role in determining the quality of life of patients receiving hospice care.
After spending two years as a hospice volunteer Jordan transitioned to volunteering at the Center for Grieving Children. As a co-facilitator for a support group for adults diagnosed with life threatening illnesses, Jordan spent a year and a half listening to participants share their stores, many of which involved fighting tooth and nail with insurance companies over healthcare coverage. What he noticed was that people were being punished for incurring sicknesses at no fault of their own. It was clear that our healthcare system favored those with comprehensive insurance plans and disenfranchised those of lower socioeconomic status. Jordan could not get something out of his head—
—how could we be living in a society that forces people to sell their homes, or drain their savings account, just to pay for health care costs? Why do Maine citizens and families have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for health treatment? Why does medicine come as a privilege and not as a human right?
Jordan’s social work studies have deepened his understanding of systemic problems and the need to massively transform cultures of oppression; masculinity, ableism, sexism, racism, ageism, and more. Jordan’s first year of field placement involved 500 hours working for Maine Boys to Men. This entailed conducting group work with middle and high school students, as well as adults, in order to shift attitudes and behaviors towards gender-based violence. In his second, and final, field placement Jordan has been serving as an aide to one of his professors and mentors, Representative Lori Gramlich of House District 13. As an intern, Jordan spends time supporting her policy initiatives that will directly impact Maine people. Part of that means traveling to Augusta and immersing himself in the legislative process, embedding himself within the Maine Democratic party, and learning the best way to advocate for and create social change by generating and implementing policies to fix the varied ways of our broken system.
Following the completion of his bachelor’s in health science from the University of Southern Maine, Jordan took on a job as a case manager for homeless and runaway youth at the Preble Street Teen Center in Portland, ME. At the Teen Center Jordan witnessed first-hand a slew of systemic problems which are evident in Portland; the housing crisis, the opioid epidemic, immigration issues, LGBTQ issues, and access to healthcare. Seeing homeless youth, the most vulnerable and marginalized in our community, struggle to get their basic needs met motivated Jordan to take his activism and service leadership to the next level by applying to graduate school at his alma mater to earn his Masters of Social Work.
While earning his master's, Jordan jumped into the role of Social Work Student Representative. As Student Rep, Jordan attended faculty meetings for the social work department, advocated for student concerns, explored avenues for instituting stipend programs through grant projects, and helped to restart the Social Work Student Organization.
Jordan Zema has a fiercely compassionate attitude, which coupled with his social work skill set, make him the best candidate to represent District 38. Jordan’s hundreds of hours providing direct support to a current State Representative will make him one of the most experienced candidates running. Jordan will be able to make connections with all of his constituents, will be able to understand the issues that impact his constituents better than anyone else, and will have ideas for making social change that will ripple beyond the confines of his district to all Maine people.