California Parenting Institute, 3650 Standish Ave., Santa Rosa 95407; 707-585-6108; calparents.org
Education: Master of health services administration, St. Mary’s University, Moraga
Describe your organization: Since 1978, California Parenting Institute (CPI) has been a parent education and children’s mental health agency serving families throughout Sonoma County.
Our mission is to end child abuse and strengthen the health of children, parents, and families. We provide education and support services for all parents; treat children who have experienced trauma and abuse; provide consultation and training to professionals; and we advocate for policies that support families and protect children.
A key strategy is our use of the “Strengthening Families – Five Protective Factors” model:
- Parental resilience.
- Social connections.
- Knowledge of parenting and child development.
- Concrete support in times of need.
- Children’s social and emotional development.
These five factors, integrated into all our services, have proven effective in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Additionally, CPI has made several changes and expanded in the last year including a new partnership and two mergers. This allowed us to expand the continuum of care to support children and families in our community.
In July 2013 we welcomed the Collaborative Autism Training and Support Program, which allows us to enrich the lives of children with autism spectrum disorders and their families by providing direct care, family education, training service providers and raising local awareness of autism. This is a partnership between CPI and Sonoma State University.
In January 2013 we merged with New Directions, a non-public school serving youth who are struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties. In October we merged with SCAYD (Sonoma County Adult and Youth Development), which is now called the Rohnert Park Family Resource Center. All these programs have become a part of the CPI family.
As the needs of children and families grow, CPI strives to grow as well in order to serve our community’s children and families.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in New York City, but as a family we never stayed in one community or state very long. My parents were both educators and were continually taking a variety of different teaching positions throughout the country.
My father was an art historian and I believe that gave me the appreciation of art which to this day I utilize in a lot of aspects of my life.
My mother took teaching jobs with the most disadvantaged children in inner city schools, where I learned about the importance to create resources and opportunities for every child.
I came to California in 1975 with my new husband, to attend Sonoma State University. We fell in love with the area and have made it our home. I have three grown children and one granddaughter who I adore.
My husband and I have made Sebastopol our home and feel strongly about family. So much so that we have multiple generations of family living on our property. I can’t image any other place to live except, perhaps Hawaii, my other favorite place on earth.
What is your role in the organization?: Fortune Teller/Change Manager/Cheer Leader/Fearless Leader, aka Executive Director. My job description looks something like this: Being able to predict/foresee trends in programs and funding. Being willing to make change to programs to ensure we are doing the best we can do for children and families in the community. And at the same time continuing to inspire the amazing group of leadership staff to keep on doing the great work we do. Importantly to also cheer on and support our board members to raise money and awareness in the community for CPI. Other duties as needed.
What achievement are you most proud of?: My life work and passion has been working in the non-profit arena and has been driven by my belief in social change. Working at the California Parenting Institute is exactly that — social change on both seeing changes personally with our clients and on a policy level with our community and funders. I have had the opportunity to build diverse relationships with all levels of government, businesses, elected officials, other nonprofits, and funders to offer innovative and efficient services that meet the true needs of our communities’ most vulnerable and underserved. To this end I have consistently been willing to “think-out-of- the box” to develop services that reflect the complex needs of our families.
Additionally, I have been involved in local and regional advocacy efforts on behalf of children and families. This work includes championing the advocacy efforts of the local child abuse council and actively working with local and national organizations to develop new revenue streams to provide necessary funding for vital services.
What is your biggest challenge today?: Creating sustainability.
What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?: The institute is strategically building a thriving Family Resource Center in Rohnert Park as well as expanding our non-public school.
Additionally, we are ensuring our new Parent Education Center is full with children and families receiving services.
What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?: CPI delivers services that change lives but we need a comprehensive data collection system that allows us to capture all that data in a way that effectively allows us to tell the story of how we change lives.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: There will be a deeper understanding that support for children and parents is needed to create stronger families and healthier communities.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, the fund has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families.
Current reading: World War Z by Max Brooks and Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
Most want to meet: Both Marian Wright Edelman and Hillary Clinton, because I consider them among the greatest child and family advocates in our country.
Stress-relievers: Walking every morning — making sure I get my 10,000 steps prior to coming into work. Lots of laughter; that’s very important.
Favorite hobbies: I enjoy making jewelry, gardening, raising chickens as well as walking our three dogs.
Words that best describe you: Creative, caring, change agent and persistent.
Anything you want to add?: At CPI the ideas and work we do here is largely due to an amazing leadership team. I want to make sure they are acknowledged for the amazing work they do every day a long side of myself.
And most importantly for the difference it makes in each individual child’s life. It is very true that happy childhoods last a lifetime!
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