Director, Human Services
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Brigham Young University, BS Psychology 1992, MPA 2010
Tell us about your school/work life:
Worked for the Utah Department of Human Services since 1991. Currently, the Director of the Office of Licensing and oversees the licensure of all human service programs throughout the state, including treatment facilities and foster homes. Prior to that worked with the Division of Child and Family Services for over 20 years, including serving as Region Director over all child welfare services in Salt Lake and Tooele Counties. It has been an honor to serve the people of Utah for 25 years.
Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children, especially traveling, hiking, camping, and watching films. I love to read, and my favorite author is Jane Austen. Watching my children grow into amazing adults has been my greatest joy, and being naturally curious about many things keeps me busy all the time.
What was the greatest barrier on your path to awesomeness, and what did you do about it?
I would say my greatest barrier was my own desire to do things correctly. I started out as an over-achiever and a perfectionist, but that kind of orientation can limit creativity, hamper decision making, make one defensive, and nurture a fear of failure that simply isn’t productive.
I had to learn to rethink the concept of success as many faceted instead of black and white. Processes that have integrity in their execution will always lead to great outcomes. It is a big picture way of thinking that involves and appreciates others’ contributions in a way that my individualized perfectionism never could.
I rarely now think bi-laterally in terms as simplistic as right/wrong, good/bad, success/failure, etc. Instead, it is about being analytical, engaged, solution focused, flexible, genuine, hard working, and outcome oriented. Critical thinking employees are the employees who make an organization competitive. There are many ethical and good paths that lead to many worthy successes. If you define your professional path too narrowly you may miss the turnoff that would have allowed you to experience true excellence.
how do you handle conflict resolution?
Conflict is an opportunity to engage and problem solve. I don’t see it as threat, but an opportunity for learning and dialogue. Analysis and understanding of opposing viewpoints are exactly what leads to the most solid solutions and public policy.
When there is conflict, the first things I think are, “What am I not seeing?” or “What haven’t I communicated effectively?”. Generally, if you are willing to be introspective, challenge yourself, listen to others, and explore other paradigms in an always respectful and positive way then any conflict quickly melts away into collaboration and solutions. Conflict resolution is never about winning or losing, but about creating something bigger and better than either original position. If managed well, conflict leads to your adversaries becoming your allies and advocates as you build together on common ground.
How have your career passions changed over the course of your career, and how have you managed transitions?
I have always been highly motivated by the concept of “leaving people better than you found them.” When I started out that meant one child or one family that I had the opportunity to engage with, give resources to, or help function better.
As my career went on, it became clear that in order to facilitate the greatest positive impact for the most people that I would have to move from individual interactions to systemic work addressing processes and public policy. This was a new skill set that required a lot of observation, research, networking, being mentored by those I respected in policy making roles, and the study and learning that came from my advanced degree.
Now, my efforts in “leaving people better than I found them” include not just individual client interactions, but also employees, stakeholders, and being part of policy making that has value and integrity for both the taxpayers of Utah and those clients who ultimately are affected by the work I am a part of.
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