Meet Nora, who helps with accounts payable, clerical projects, and supports the Executive Team. Nora first worked as a Family Specialist Intern at Children’s System of Care (CSOC), then trained and became a Foster Parent Liaison and Triple P Facilitator, before working as a Site Coordinator for the Parent Training Institute. She was awarded the Family Outcome Champion Award by the Praed Foundation in 2011 for her work on the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths assessment.
How long have you lived in San Francisco?
I was born and raised in San Francisco with two siblings, my sister and brother, in Visitacion Valley.
It seems like you’ve been invested in the health and wellness of families for a long time. What started you on this journey?
We adopted 6 family members who had mental health challenges as young children. The horrible systems experiences we had with each child made me feel that there’s got to be a better way. We wanted to be a part of the change, and I wanted to make a difference in my own way.
What were some of the challenges you experienced?
Over the years we’ve had to navigate the mental health, juvenile justice, and foster care systems. It was very difficult. I come from a family of educators, so I have help and a family with connections; I was able to get through the system. But what about John and [Jane] Doe who don’t have people to help them figure stuff out? Who don’t have lawyers who can get involved? For example, one of my sons has ADHD and trying to get him tested and on medication took months. The teacher would cry when she saw him coming. I was crying for days. Our systems are so broken. No child or parent should be put in that position. The magnitude of challenges that I faced should never happen to anyone.
How did you end up at Triple P? I was working as the Family Specialist Intern at CSOC when I met Stephanie Romney, a director from Parent Training Institute who brought PTI to the West Coast and started the PTI pilot in SF. I ended up working for her and went right into training for Triple P. I am accredited to teach courses on little kids (2-12), teens (13-17), the standard (individual one-on-one help with families), and Stepping Stones (for kids with special needs). Pathways is mixed in too: it’s the “chin check” for the caregiver that asks, “What traumas have you gone through that are affecting your parenting? Let’s look at what you can be doing better?” My favorite piece is that you never have to say to a parent that they’re doing it wrong. It’s so masterfully created that the parents see it for themselves; it’s like magic.
What led you to pursue work at SYS? In my first Triple P class (for 2-12 year-olds) I met Dawn. And it just so happened that every training since then, Dawn has been there, and she and I have been together. We just clicked. There was something about her that drew me to her. Which is weird b/c I don’t really like people! But there was something about her that was so genuine that I just love. The more I interacted with her, the more I got to know about SYS, and I felt like “that’s some place I’d like to be some day.” I never saw it happening because I couldn’t see myself leaving PTI, but I always thought “in a perfect world…” Then one day Dawn said, “Hey what if?” But the timing wasn’t right because my dad was sick and it didn’t feel fair [to say yes when I couldn’t give 100% of my attention.] I told her to keep me in mind and ask again. Dawn kept me in mind and the next time she asked, I jumped on it!
What is your super power? Being able to really see people, see inside of people, and meet them where they are.
My job: I’m still trying to figure it out. There’s the admin, answering phones, helping out here and there with clerical stuff, the finance piece (accounts payable)–but the biggest part for me is being here with the kids. Having the open door with the candy. Checking in with them every day. One-on-one contact with the kids really warms my heart. I didn’t have that for so many years at PTI because I was working directly with the caregivers.
What do you think about SYS now that you’ve been here a bit? The way I described it to my sister was that this is an org that comes in and totally envelops the youth. It’s like you all have thought of everything that a youth might need and you’ve become that. And I’m in awe of it really. I’m still finding out pieces and learning more about what’s available and what can be done. If there’s a need, it’s filled and not passed: that’s what I really appreciate and respect. It’s a solutions-based org. So many times things are put on a back burner or dismissed, but I’ve yet to see that here. I absolutely love it.
What should we know about you? I believe we can change the world by leading with LOVE.
Russell and I have new grand babies—ages 9 and 8 months, a boy and a girl—and my two favorite people in the world: Talliah and Zyon.