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Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County client services director wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award

Julie Swanstrom

35

Client Services Director

Community Child Care Council (4Cs) of Sonoma County

131A Stony Circle, Suite 300, Santa Rosa 95401

707-544-3077

www.sonoma4cs.org

Read other profiles of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Forty Under 40 Awards winners.

Responsibilities with your company: I manage our Early Care and Education Department subsidy services providing access to child care for over 2,300 children monthly. I oversee staff training and supervision, system maintenance and development, implementation, planning, and evaluation of programs. Ensuring delivery of high quality family and provider case management for Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4Cs) Alternative Payment Programs and Center Programs.

How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?

I am passionate about my job and lead by example. I am committed to helping my community and making a positive impact for the future.

Years with company: 20

Length of time in current position: 10 years

Number of companywide employees: 150

Number who report to you: 23

Greatest professional accomplishment: My greatest professional accomplishment is each time a family I have worked with reaches financial stability and no longer needs child care assistance. In my daily work I get to help my amazing team provide opportunities for parents to take their children to a safe and educational child care program as the family works toward their future success.

When the family no longer needs services, I know that we have made a difference in the life of the family and children for years to come.

Greatest professional challenge: My greatest professional challenge is the knowledge that more families and children need support than can be served. During times of crisis, child care services are only one small piece of the puzzle the family must juggle and telling a family in need that I cannot help is hard.

I try to find creative and individual ways to work with every client in order to meet the strict state regulations or connect to other services to help each family's needs. Currently in COVID times, this need has been highlighted all the more.

Best advice received: Treat people with love, compassion and care. At the end of the day, that is what matters most.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: My most important event in the last 12 months has been leading my team during COVID.

Learning how to adapt and pivot operations continually with unprecedented circumstances including managing remote and hybrid work teams, contactless client operations, regulation changes, and the creation of a completely new child care program for essential workers.

I also worked with my team to transition some staff supervision which has provided each individual more personalized support, strengthens our team as a whole, and gives new opportunities for leadership development.

What’s the biggest change COVID-19, the restrictions and the economic impact has had on your work and personal life?

The biggest challenge within COVID-19 has been finding ways to stay connected with people. With clients we had to develop new ways to do business and develop relationships when not in person. With my team and staff we found new ways to work together while primarily being at different locations.

Continuing to build team relationships was so important, even with onboarding new staff, so we could be a highly effective team. In my personal life, especially the longer we are in COVID, finding ways to have meaningful connection with others has at times been a challenge.

And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from that experience?

The biggest lesson I have taken from this experience is that no matter how hard it may be to stay connected with people, it is all the more important.

That connection helps combat some of the added challenges, barriers, stress and fatigue because you care about the person. The work my team has accomplished this year would not be possible alone and working together we were able to do great things.

What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?

4Cs has a very supportive environment that cares for each individual and the contributions they bring to their work. We offer professional development pathways, encourage people to grow their careers, and pursue areas they are passionate about.

With COVID, since we are seeing everyone much less, we have started a weekly awesome update email. Anyone can submit a thank you or recognition that are compiled and sent out to our whole agency to recognize and celebrate those accomplishments.

Next professional goal: My next professional goal is to find a way to implement some of our current practices and flexibilities developed during COVID into our business practices long term.

This will allow us to keep utilizing what is working, continue to be more supportive meeting the needs of families and improve our effectiveness overall.

Julie Swanstrom

35

Client Services Director

Community Child Care Council (4Cs) of Sonoma County

131A Stony Circle, Suite 300, Santa Rosa 95401

707-544-3077

www.sonoma4cs.org

Read other profiles of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Forty Under 40 Awards winners.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, UC Davis; Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, UC Davis

Hometown: Santa Rosa

Community/nonprofit activities: Active 20-30 Club No. 1029, President (2019-2020); Vice President & Youth Benevolent Fund board member (2018-2019); Board member (4 terms), active member within my club, help community partners and other clubs.

Chaired or co-chaired many events including children's shopping spree taking 300+ children back to school shopping (Fall 2018) & Kids Christmas bringing gifts and a day of activities to 50+ children at the holidays (2019 & 2020).

On the Verge- participant (2016-2017), coach to cohort 2 (2017-2018), serving on Advisory Committee for cohort 3 (2018-2019) and La Plaza (ongoing). Board member of Board of Fellowship at my church (2008-present) Volunteer for eye care mission trips to Nicaragua's jungle 2007, 2008 & 2014 and planning to go again in the future as travel allows.

Mentor/admired businessperson: Leslie Medine. She modeled being open and honest in leadership, bringing your true authentic self and humanity to every situation, and showed me how to hold a high bar of accountability (even in the little things) to build a high preforming team.

What is your most disliked industry buzzword?

Babysitter- In the child care field, the care offered in early childhood and educational programs is so much more than just a babysitter.

Typical day at the office: During COVID, my typical days whether at the office or working remote has changed to include an average of 3-6 zoom meetings or webinars. These are how I can check in with my team and receive information about ongoing changes to programs. I field phone calls with clients and staff and have all the same projects and administrative tasks as usual ensuring our compliance and responsiveness to client needs.

When my day takes me to the office I am able to print, send documents, update case files, and catch up on the specific in office operations. My days vary and I love the challenge of the unknown and fast pace.

In a business sense, what is the greatest thing about being under 40; and then what is the worst?

The greatest thing about being under 40 are the many different opportunities that are before you still to come in your career.

The worst thing about being under 40 is that you are still building some of your networks and resources and could have a greater impact now if you had those items already.

Best place to work outside of your office: When not in the office I, like so many others, work from my home desk. However, at times if my project allows I like working while sitting in the sun on my back patio enjoying fresh air.

Hobbies: I like hiking, cooking, camping, traveling, reading, crafts, playing board games, wine tasting, volunteering, and teaching myself new skills from online videos.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: I wanted to be a variety of things when I grew up, however the one I remember the most vividly was being a librarian since I liked books and keeping things in an orderly system.

#1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: Currently one accomplishment I hope to attain before turning 40 is being the Youth Benevolent Fund President within my Active 20-30 Club.

This position guides our charitable giving through grants and teen scholarships which is something I am passionate about.

First job: Temporary administrative assistant at 4Cs helping in the busy summer season. Through this experience I was able to see firsthand the impact an individual can have in the life of another person.

Social media you most use: Instagram

Favorite book: My favorite book is ”Pride and Prejudice”

Favorite movie: My favorite movie is “Secondhand Lions”- a touching story of how the people you meet for a short period can make a difference in your life.

Favorite App: I am amazed at people's creativity and it gives me ideas or inspires me to try new things.

Favorite after-work drink: My favorite after-work drink is a nice glass of red wine.

Last vacation: My last big vacation was a trip to South Africa to go on a Safari I impulsively bid on at a charity auction. It was definitely a trip of a life-time and had me considering my return visit before I even flew home.

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?

My parents brag about how trustworthy, responsible and loyal I am.

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