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As a college student on summer break, I needed to make money, yet I had very little skills. I lived in Tacoma, Washington and one of the major employers was Nalleys Pickles. So, I went to work on the factory floor packing cucumbers in jars and enduring the strongest vinegar smell imaginable. The pay was a few dollars per hour over what I could make other places, but it was hard physical work, extremely boring and added no meaning to my life beyond the paycheck. I knew from that point forward, I would only work in jobs that helped people.

After I gained knowledge in my chosen field of communications, I landed my first “real” job as a college intern with Easter Seals in Seattle. My experience at Easter Seals put my career – and my life on a new path. After graduating and holding various fundraising and management positions at the American Heart Association and the March of Dimes, my career came full circle when I became CEO of AbilityFirst in 2004.

The values of AbilityFirst are – trust, belonging and personal best. As I worked my way from pickle packer to CEO I was – and still am – striving to be my personal best. I found at AbilityFirst a sense of belonging and, every day, I place an enormous amount of trust in our staff who work directly with our participants or provide essential support functions.

That’s my AbilityFirst story. I hope you’ll join me in supporting AbilityFirst to help our wonderful programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities continue and grow.

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