As I reflect on my 10 years at CIR I can't help but think:
- I never imagined myself staying at an organization for so long;
- Now that I know how massive the problem of child abuse is I can't not do something about it;
- I have never worked with a group of professionals that I genuinely consider family/friends.
There was a time in my young career where I was constantly searching for the next position. As most young and ambitious professionals do, I was always looking for more money and more responsibility, while also trying to make a change in the world. It was a very challenging task to say the least...
In my search, I happened to stumble upon this amazing organization called CIR an while I did not come into CIR with a passion for ending child abuse, I did come in with energy and excitement to make a positive impact on a statewide level. As I began to learn about the context of the Child Abuse Training and Technical Assistance Centers (CATTA) and the Child Abduction Training Project I was truly stunned by all of the evil in this world. It was the first time I was grateful to have such strict parents growing up, including my dad's no sleepovers rule. As I immersed myself in the work and connected with subject matter experts, I began to feel a fire growing inside me. I could not sit on the sidelines anymore and pretend that abuse was not happening at all around me. I am fortunate to work with some amazing and passionate professionals who remind me everyday that there are good people in the world. They inspire me to focus on ways that we can stop abuse and trauma from occurring or re-occurring in the most of the cases that we work with. And to this day, I find that every week I am inspired by a new topic in the field. I feel a passion to reach more professionals that we ever have and to make lasting change. It is a feeling I never imagined I could retain, and I definitely didn't think I could find it working at the same organization. And yet here I am, thriving and growing everyday.
I want to take a moment to thank my co-workers and our amazing leader, Sonia Sandoval-Edinger. The biggest reason I have stayed at CIR is because of the team that has surrounded me. I have never felt a competition amongst my co-workers (except every year around Halloween when I lose the pumpkin carving contest). We work as a team and genuinely care about each other. I still remember bringing my oldest daughter Olivia into the office every day when I returned from Maternity Leave. We took her on daily walks, my co-workers would watch her while I took important calls, and Olivia rolled over for the first time in our office. It was during this time that I knew I found something special. I think back to navigating motherhood, especially the mom guilt that I felt as I left my child to be taken care of by someone else or the stress I felt when I had to travel for work. That was such a stressful time for me, but I always had the support of my team and the trainers around me who check in on me and supported me and told me that it was completely normal to be afraid that someone might try to sexually abuse my daughter when she got older. I felt like I had my village around me and they got me. And on a professional level, our Executive Director, Sonia Sandoval-Edinger spent time mentoring me, teaching me how to navigate the world of grant management and teaching me what it truly means to be a good leader. It was through her confidence in me and willingness to help grow professionally that I have been able to do so much these past 10 years.
I truly am proud of the work that CIR has accomplished over the last decade, and I feel so fortunate to have stumbled across this non-profit organization that does so much for our state. As I reflect on my accomplishments over the past 10 years, I find myself not being able to separate my accomplishments at home from CIR: like surviving twin pregnancy and the first year as a family of 5 to developing the Child Abduction Simulation Exercise (CASE), a training that I developed myself and has been presented for almost 7 years. And the reason why I can't separate my accomplishments is because CIR has allowed me to be my full authentic self, with 3 wild children in the background and all, and for that I am truly grateful.
I would like to thank everyone that I have worked with throughout these past 10 years, you have truly made an impact in my life and a special thanks to my CIR family. Thank you for bringing the passion and innovation to our work every day. And lastly thank you to my three girls and my husband who always support me and remind me to keep doing what I am doing. I hope to inspire my daughters to be leaders in their communities, while also striving to keep them safe from the darkness in this world so that their light continues to shine bright.