Caitlin Childs of Santa Rosa's Social Advocates for Youth wins Forty Under 40 award

Caitlin Childs

AGE: 32

Communications and Marketing Manager

Social Advocates for Youth

2447 Summerfield Rd, Santa Rosa, 9540


Caitlin Childs of Santa Rosa's Social Advocates for Youth wins an 11th annual Forty Under 40 award from North Bay Business Journal.

Responsibilities with your company: As the communications and marketing manager for SAY I have stewarded the SAY brand through a full design face lift. I planned and executed communications for SAY's $10 million capital campaign for the SAY Dream Center. I lead the marketing and design for SAY's sold out annual fundraising event, helping bring in over $393,000 in unrestricted donations.

In supporting SAY's fund development efforts I have achieved a 10% year over year fundraising increase and expanded our donor base significantly. I oversee the photography, design and production of SAY marketing materials, manage agency websites, and coordinate social media for the agency and our programs.

In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?

I'm a creative thinker. I bring a sense of whimsy and fun to my work, and I'm never afraid to take on a big project.

Years with company: 7.5

Length of time in current position: 4 years

Number of employees who report to you: 1

Greatest professional accomplishment: The SAY Dream Center project has been a huge accomplishment for myself and our entire team at SAY. As communications manager, I came up with the name for the Dream Center, led the marketing strategy for our $9.8 million capital campaign, and also led the design efforts for the signage for our new campus. Seeing three years of work come together, and seeing youth moving into the apartments has been a huge thrill.

Greatest professional challenge: The SAY Dream Center project was also a major challenge for me. It was the first major capital campaign I had ever worked on, and the first project that generated some controversy. Managing our communications during that time, and learning on the job made each day a new challenge. Our team was incredible throughout the project though and the skills I gained will stay with me.

Best advice received: The best advice I've received has really been to take the time to decompress and find ways to practice self-care. The work we do impacts so many vulnerable young people, and we've grown an incredible amount in the time I've been with the agency. It would be easy to get overwhelmed and burnt out, so I consciously schedule time off throughout the year to travel, something I love doing. Over the past few years I've been to Ireland, Italy, France, Costa Rica and Honduras and Guatemala, New York City, Chicago, Washington DC and Disneyland. Taking time off to explore a new place really allows me to recharge and come back to work with enthusiasm and a fresh perspective.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: I had surgery to get a hearing aid implanted in July of 2016, and had to take over a month off to heal and recover. Not working for that time was so challenging, since I'm used to being so connected, and I've never taken that much time off in my entire career.

I had to prepare well for my leave and trust that my team would keep things going in my absence. It was a significant challenge, and I realized again how important teamwork is and how lucky I am to work in a supportive environment. I've been deaf in my right ear for my entire life, and I knew that ultimately, my decision to have surgery would open up new opportunities, and would allow me to be a better communicator. It's been a joy to be able to experience the world in a new way since then.

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

SAY has grown significantly since I started with the organization in 2009. As the economy dipped, our services were more needed than ever: youth homelessness increased, as did unemployment for young people. Our team responded to that need by growing strategically where needed. The SAY Finley Dream Center is a direct response to the increase in youth homelessness. Our team morale has been so strong throughout, because as an organization we're all dedicated to the work, and we know that we're responding to need in the right areas.

Next professional goal: My department within SAY has grown this past year, and I was able to hire a graphic designer to work by my side in helping to support our programs with marketing materials. My goal is to continue growing the marketing department for SAY.

Education: BA in Political Science from San Francisco State University

Hometown: Santa Rosa

Mentor/admired businessperson: Cat Cvengros, our former chief development officer has been a strong mentor for me. In six years of working with her she modeled great management every day, and is an inspiring public speaker. She absolutely inspires me to get better each day.

Typical day at the office: I don't have a typical day. Some days I do a lot of graphic design and website work. Other days I get to meet with clients and interview them about their experiences. Other days I have public speaking engagements and spend time advocating on behalf of our youth in the community.

Best place to work outside of your office: My home

Hobbies: I co-host a weekly podcast about the SyFy Network tv show “The Expanse.” I practice yoga almost every day. And also love cooking, baking and hosting dinner parties.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: I knew that I wanted to make an impact in my community, but I didn't have a career path planned out.

First job: My first job was working as a lifeguard at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa.

Favorite book: “Cat's Cradle” Kurt Vonnegut

Favorite movie: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Favorite after-work drink: Tea

Last vacation: I traveled to Ireland in January to visit my relatives and see the countryside.

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?

I think they're very proud of my work in the community, and my enthusiasm for travel (my parents and I travel together often).

Caitlin Childs

AGE: 32

Communications and Marketing Manager

Social Advocates for Youth

2447 Summerfield Rd, Santa Rosa, 9540


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