Kathy Goodacre of Career Technical Education Foundation Sonoma County wins North Bay Women in Business award

Kathy Goodacre

CEO, Executive Director

Career Technical Education Foundation of Sonoma County

1030 Apollo Way, Suite 200, Santa Rosa 95407



Kathy Goodacre says the coronavirus crisis is highlighting peoples’ strength and resiliency. She is a 2020 North Bay Business Journal Women in Business Awards winner.

Professional background:Marketing, fundraising, nonprofit administration

Education:Bachelor of Science, Communications

Staff: 7

Tell us about yourself and your company: I started my career in Sonoma County in 1990 as the vice president, Fund Development for United Way.

In 1997, I launched a sole proprietor business providing an array of consulting services with an emphasis on nonprofit program and fund development. My firm, Community Solutions Group, was instrumental in the success and development of numerous nonprofit organizations throughout Sonoma County.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in communications (Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky), and currently live in east Santa Rosa with my husband, Matt of 32 years and have two children, Nick/22 and Lauren/31.

I joined Career Technical Education Foundation (CTEF) as Executive Director/CEO in 2013. CTEF works to align industry and education to strengthen economic development and student success through the development of innovative career to education strategies. I lead a board representative of education, business, government and community leaders.

CTEF has invested millions in grants to schools and programs connecting teachers and students with industry to ensure career connected learning.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

Following the 2017 fires, the CTE Foundation partnered with North Coast Builders Exchange and Sonoma County Office of Education to rapidly expand a program that trains and introduces high school seniors to careers in construction/trades.

The foundation was successful in securing their first $1million grant to support the expansion of the North Bay Construction Corps into five counties.

In January 2020, the program enrolled nearly 200 students from Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Napa and Marin counties, up from the original class of 24 in 2017.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Being part of the founding leadership team to launch and develop the business model for the CTE Foundation. Conceived in 2012 as an untried idea, a group of local leaders came together to address the mis-aligned system for education and industry.

Employers were concerned about the lack of technical and soft skills development coming out of Sonoma County schools (high school, community college and university).

With initial seed funding from the County of Sonoma and John Jordan Foundation, in 2013 the Foundation offered competitive grants for local high schools to expand and enhance career technical education with an initial focus on engineering and design. In one funding year, among 15 public high schools, the county went from offering just one engineering class at one high school to six.

Since its founding, the foundation has invested more than $2 million in more than 130 career technical education classes supporting the local, high demand, high skill and high wage careers in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, health care and hospitality/tourism. Additional investments have been made in career connected learning programs, partnering with major employers to offer real world, career exploration and training to local students and teachers. More than 9,500 students impacted to date!

What is your biggest challenge today?

Managing the day-to-day business, keeping employee morale up, and most importantly, pivoting student engagement programs during COVID and distance learning. We know that this pandemic will pass, however, and the toughest challenge we face that is much deeper and longer term, is how we assume responsibility as community leaders, and in our personal and professional life with the systemic racism and bias that impacts the future success of our students and communities of color.

Words that best describe you: Authenticity, integrity, compassionate, strategic, thoughtful, confident, collaborative, professional, transparent.

In what ways have the pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders changed who you are as a person that will be a part of you long after the pandemic has passed?

I believe like most crises we have been through, we are reminded of the strength and resiliency we have as human beings.

Also, what ways do you think it will change the way you go about your career and your business?

More flexibility and employees choosing to work from home; fewer in-person meetings and events.

And when it comes to the COVID-19 issue, what are some the lessons learned for the business community?

I hope we will see new policies providing more flexible working hours for parents and work from home options for employees and positions that might not otherwise been offered.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

Family and work life balance! I was always focused on advancing my professional career and my work has been a central part of my life. However, when the time came to have children, I was willing to put my career on pause so I could focus on providing the care and nurturing my children deserved.

This may have set my career trajectory back but I am certain that my greatest accomplishment in life is the adult human beings that my two children have become.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

I believe we will see growth in investments in non-profit organizations as solutions to our communities most challenging issues. Nonprofit and community leaders creating collaborative partnerships for collective impact. Who was your most important mentor?

My mother, Kay Watson who passed away at the very young age of 53. She was bigger than life and I have never known a more confident, uninhibited, smart, yet humble woman.

She dropped out of college as a young woman to get married and raise a family. At the age of 40, she re-enrolled at the university where I would begin my freshman year, and while running a business with my father, managed to get her degree in legal studies in less than two years.

Five years later she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer. She applied to only one school in Carbondale, Illinois and was accepted, where she spent the next three years commuting 2 hours a day to law school, caring for her dying father, raising a teenage boy through high school, and supporting my father in their Colorado based business.

She passed the bar first round in the state of Colorado and was able to practice law, defending those in court who often times would be unable to pay legal fees. She was greatly admired by people from all walks of life.Even in illness and on her death bed, she wanted her family to be at peace knowing that she had achieved everything she would have wanted and done all that she hoped for. She was my biggest fan and cheerleader for everything I pursued which continues to inspire me in my career and life.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?

Never stop going for the next advancement, even if you are knocked down. Don’t be discouraged when passed over for a job or promotion. Without fail, I have found and seen, when one door closes ... another opens, and it’s almost always a much better opportunity.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Santa Rosa business leader and philanthropist, Henry Trione, since passed. Henry did so much to invest in and build Sonoma County businesses and he never thought twice about giving back; Once when talking with him about a charitable gift he told me, “there won’t be a luggage rack on my hearst.”

Typical day at the office: No typical day really. During SIP, I would say day begins around 7 a.m. checking and responding to emails; staff meetings around 9:30; various Zoom calls and meetings with staff, board leaders, donors and community members throughout the day, and ending with school board meetings and/or community events.

Best place to work outside of your office: Kitchen island

Current reading: "I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for White People,“ Austin Channing Brown

Most want to meet: Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, George Clooney (celebrity crush!)

Social media you most use: Facebook, Instagram

Stress relievers: Exercise; family time; Happy Hour! Favorite hobbies: Vacation (travel) of any kind! Skiing, cooking; reading.

What would either parents or significant others say if asked to brag about you?

From my husband: Beautiful, intelligent, motivated, sincere, loyal. A great wife and mother-The centerpiece of our family. Difficult to defeat in a domestic disagreement!

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add? Thank you for acknowledging nonprofit female executives as women in business. Sonoma County is home to more than 3,080 registered nonprofit agencies and not-for-profit organizations that reported more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

Well- run nonprofit organizations operate with the same integrity, effectiveness, and efficiency as any for-profit business model.

Executive Directors/CEO’s for these organizations are often required to balance even more, when taking into account managing high powered volunteer boards, meeting high standards of accountability, and given what is at stake for the health and prosperity of the community if we fail.

Kathy Goodacre

CEO, Executive Director

Career Technical Education Foundation of Sonoma County

1030 Apollo Way, Suite 200, Santa Rosa 95407



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