How Did I Get Here?

Have you ever woke up wondering, “How the heck did I get here?”

I did. (I still do some days!)

After high school I chose a basic college education. I’m impatient and wanted to “get to work”. During that time I met a great guy, married young, and got to work – and didn’t complete my degree. I spent some time working in the insurance industry before my children surprised me by arriving three years earlier than planned. I pride myself on being flexible. I dreamt of having children since my childhood, so I welcomed my son into the world and set off on a new adventure ~ motherhood. I stayed home with them (my daughter arrived 19 months later) until they reached grade school. Those were amazing years. My children taught me more than I can say in a short post.

A Career Takes Shape

I’m not a home-body. I am most energized by meeting new people and finding new adventures. My early career was predominately with churches – a unique nonprofit niche. I took on administrative work, accounting, or whatever else needed to be done. Most important to me was hanging out with youth of all ages. When I went to work at a  local mega church my home was filled nearly every night with kids from the community – including the six to eight who lived with us. (Some days it felt like a college frat house!) Those were incredible years. I learned much about the good, bad, and the ugly of leadership. (I could tell you some crazy stories, but I’ll save that for another post.)

After my children graduated I accepted a position with Union Gospel Mission in Portland, Oregon. Leaving the comfortable life of Clark County to work with the homeless community in Portland was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I remained with UGM for nearly 10 years. Bill Russell, the Executive Director, my boss, took me under his wing, mentoring me in the numerous details of leading an NPO. I learned the value of all humanity. Men and women who had been through hell showed me what love and trust looks like. I’ll be sharing some of their stories in future posts so stay tuned!

In my fifth year with UGM I worked alongside Gloria Hall – formerly of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – to assess and restructure the women’s program. 15 months later we opened LifeChange for Women and Their Children in Beaverton, Oregon. I took lead as Case Manager and developed their first Case Management Department while (finally) completing a BS in Human Development at Warner Pacific University. Commuting from Battle Ground to Beaverton daily, developing a new program at UGM, and completing my degree all at the same time was intensive, messy, and exhilarating. If you’re considering returning to college – GO! It’s never too late. I wish I had space to express what it was like to experience a dream fulfilled after so many years.

Moving into the Future

Since that time, I have been the CEO of a women’s health clinic and Interim Executive Director of a youth camp helping at-risk youth overcome barriers to a successful life. It was during this time I met a great friend who challenged me to use my experience to help other organizations overcome the struggles all NPO’s face at some point in their growth. The diversity of experience I have been blessed with provides a unique skill-set. I am a strong problem-solver and able to see areas hindering organizations that others often miss. I enjoy the process of assessing, strategizing, and equipping leaders to take their organization to the next level.

I’d love the chance to share what I’ve learned through some amazing, and some painful, lessons to inspire you through the hard time! Give me a call and let’s have coffee – I’ll buy!

Keeping it real,
Cheryl

 

 

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