Who I Am
My career so far has primarily been supervising the development, coordination, and implementation of a wide variety of educational programs, activities, and services provided to people of all ages. I enjoy keeping up with and implementing the latest learning theories. I love learning new subjects, such as the wildlife of California, the oceans, astronomy, geology, contemporary art, science, music, aviation, and engineering.
I love the Renaissance idea of a curious mind: that learning is possible in all fields. I have been that way my whole life. I try never to be scared of something new. To the public, learning about engineering can have the same concerns as learning about contemporary art. If people don’t know where to begin, they feel they can’t begin to understand something. My greatest joy has been to find ways into these subjects for adults and children. Through offering personal interactions with an expert, hands-on experiences, and other immersive and interactive methods, we could grab their attention and soothe their worries. It’s so important for people to develop a lifelong love of discovery, whatever the field. They may not all become engineers, or musicians, or artists, but they’ll understand why others are passionate about those areas, and why they are an important part of culture.
Along the way I’ve become increasingly aware of how gender, ethnicity, and economic background can play a huge part in who has the opportunities to succeed. Identifying and connecting with those audiences can be the toughest challenge. Working with Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, I learned how peer pressure can push many young women out of science careers before they even have a chance to begin their adult lives. Working with Native American groups, students from economically disadvantaged areas, and Chicano groups, I learned how each has unique advantages when it comes to enjoying educational experiences. I also saw how other pressures can push them away from reaching goals. I’ve been committed to trying to break down barriers ever since, advocating for diverse audiences, and I have been very successful in finding funders who share these goals. I’ve coordinated with many outside organizations in this process, but my greatest success has been recruiting fabulous educators and associated team members. There are a great number of committed people out there it has been my honor to hire and oversee.
Analyzing project requirements, organizing resources, and establishing priorities within a sustainable budget are the vital skills needed to make these kinds of opportunities happen. Without being ahead of the game, it is impossible to promote ahead of time or to take advantage of new opportunities. It is also difficult to adapt to the ever-changing world of community needs. When it all comes together, the warm glow from the day of a successful event is like nothing else in the world.
I have enjoyed coming into organizations which are startups or in times of transition, and then working with a team to build a good consistent message. The brand has to ring true. Who are we? Where are we headed? Do we have credibility? Are we relying on tourists who may try anything once, or are we building a good local base? Are we relying on funding that may disappear due to external shifts we have no influence on? Are we resisting change for good reasons or bad? Do we have competition, and what are our strengths and weaknesses compared to them? What will keep people returning? All of these questions have to be continuously asked and answered.
I have found non-profit work to be immensely rewarding, in that it gives a professional sense of true purpose, for a cause bigger than any individual. Identifying constituencies who did not even know opportunities were available can be life-changing. Watching and mentoring people as they then go on to apply what they learned is incredibly gratifying. Being passionate about a subject you are sharing conveys itself to the audience too: I can feel the energy in the room.
I love to be surrounded by people who are striving to make the world a better place. For me, it’s all about connecting. Being positively influential requires engaging, quality offerings and excellent staff. When that is in place, anything is possible.