I chose social work as my profession because of my desire to solve problems and help others find their joy and place in our world. Outreach on cold mornings, sitting in dim waiting rooms, completing endless forms, and ultimately making a connection with others to help end their homelessness was incredibly meaningful work to me. I loved that work, even when it made me cry or yell in frustration about the injustices I encountered. That work led me to SOAR, which led me to PRA and some incredible mentors and eventually to my role as a Program Area Director where I supervise a team of amazing people.
As I look back at my career path this far (I’m only halfway through!), I see my transition and growth as a supervisor fulfilling my original desires. The team that I supervise is also my support system and what allows me to grow. I see my role as one that helps to nurture, guide, and lead, but first to always listen, learn, and evolve from what the team is teaching me.
At PRA, we strive for good life-work integration. I understand and value the important distinction between the two, but I also find that my work is a huge part of my life, who I am, and who I want to be. I care deeply about the people I work with like I care for my family, friends, and neighbors. We are on this journey together.
Sometimes I joke that supervising is hard because you are working with humans with feelings! In truth, it is sharing those authentic feelings and experiences that makes it so beautiful. Accomplishing amazing things and making an impact toward our mission are magnified when you can share that joy with the others who made it happen. I love being able to celebrate how our collective efforts create something wonderful.
I’m not trying to say that supervision is always sunshine and roses. It can be challenging. We have difficult conversations. We say “no,” or “not now,” or “we can do better.” Approaching those hard moments with empathy, kindness, respect, and a genuine desire to support growth and wellness can be transformational.
I am proud and thankful for PRA’s work in supporting and improving our supervision processes. We created a supervisor training structure and identified key competencies that supervisors should have and embody. The lists are very long (rightfully so!) and include important categories, including relationship and team building, performance management, staff development and mentoring, and PRA values, operations, and policies. The responsibility seems immense at times, but I am so grateful that I can work so closely with my team and grow in our work together.