I started working in nonprofits when I was 19 at a group of Quaker summer camps called the Farm and Wilderness Foundation. Over the next twenty years, I held most positions available, eventually becoming the Co-Director of the residential camp for the oldest teenagers. I lived in the woods with 30 staff and 75 kids and ran a working farm. This was not hot dogs and marshmallows, it was anti-racism training and community building, it was mediation and abuse intervention, it was helping teenagers learn to relate and become their best selves. And occasionally, it was twilight magic with awed and inspired faces.
It was my favorite job.
I also spent a lot of time, almost ten years, working in and out of Vista del Mar Child and Family Services. As the largest Group Home in Los Angeles, it serves over 4,000 children in various capacities from outpatient to a fully locked facility for our community's severely emotionally-disturbed children. Vista delivers the highest level of mental health care available to children. I worked my way up through the HR and Accounting Departments to become the Contracts Compliance Manager. The agency had an annual operating budget of about $40M and I handled roughly $25M worth of contracts. After leaving permanent employment at Vista, I’ve been back several times as a consultant.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors drew me away from Vista to become the Chief Operating Officer of an organization called Communities for Teaching Excellence. It was a start-up funded by the Gates Foundation, so I had the pleasure of working with some exceptional people. The organization closed, so I can speak the trials and tribulations of high-profile start-ups. From there, Gates recommended I work at Parent Revolution, another of their organizations, again as the Chief Operating Officer. Which I did. And that was great. All kids should be educated. It solves almost everything.
Speaking of education, I was lucky enough to attend Sarah Lawrence College, where I learned to think and I learned to write, two cornerstones of my career. If you aren’t familiar with it, Sarah Lawrence is a liberal arts college in New York. It shows up in movies when they want to make fun of artistic and erudite do-gooders.
Over the years, I noticed my office had a stream of employees looking to better themselves or asking for advice on handling leadership issues. I had all measure of staff, from entry-level assistants who wanted to improve, to directors navigating a tricky termination, to CEOs looking for feedback. Everyone has a gift. My gift is insight. I can quickly see the crux of a problem, whether it's a relationship, a conversation or a system.
I started REPRESENT to help people succeed in the workplace. I am filled up by helping people. I still work as a full-time executive as the CEO of the Santa Barbara Vintners, so I know what’s facing employees and executives today. I’ve been both. I understand what it takes to manage a staff or a Board or your career effectively. I can help you integrate insight into your work life, which is going to help you do your job, increase your productivity and ultimately, make you a happier person.
We should talk.