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EDCOE Team Member Spotlight - Alice Alk, Program Coordinator, First 5 El Dorado

00:00 AM - October 28, 2020

EDCOE Team Member Spotlight - Alice Alk, Program Coordinator, First 5 El Dorado

Briefly describe your background (where you grew up, family, why you came to work for EDCOE).

I was born and raised in Merced, CA. I am a first generation Hmong-American and was also a first generation college student in my family. My parents immigrated to the United States just 40 years ago from Laos, after the Vietnam War. Out of their 7 children, I am the only daughter. I have 4 children of my own, adding to my parents’ 13 total grandchildren (and counting). Our huge family is everything to me. One of my earliest memories is teaching my mom how to read and write in English. I was only 5 and I knew what a graduation with a GED meant a lot sooner than most people. That was the origin of my passion for education and equity.

What is your department, title, and how long have you worked for EDCOE?

I am the Program Coordinator at First 5 El Dorado. I’ve been in this role for a little over 2 years. Our office is currently located at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.

Describe how your role helps support programs/schools/students directly or indirectly.

I support our Commission’s evaluation, fiscal, programming, and communication efforts. At First 5, we focus on family resiliency, which is a huge factor in a child’s readiness and ability to succeed in life. Our service delivery is through Community Hubs. We have 5 Hubs in El Dorado County, each serving the communities within the 5 supervisorial districts. Each Hub team consists of a Family Engagement Specialist, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist, Community Health Advocate, and Public Health Nurse. These multidisciplinary teams work with families to address needs such as finding a doctor or dentist, helping to get health insurance/Medi-Cal, supporting a new mom with prenatal care or breastfeeding, finding a local play group and Library storytime schedules, connecting with parenting classes and support groups, assisting with understanding child behavior or development, and accessing community resources.

What are you and your team doing to support education in El Dorado County during the COVID-19 facility closures?

Covid has been an interesting and unique experience. While it has limited our service delivery, it has given us the opportunity to think outside of the box and be more creative. Our Community Hub teams found ways to engage families virtually, connect families to resources quickly, and provide supplies like PPE, diapers and food through drive-thru distributions in the county.

What do you most appreciate about your department/team?

Our office operates on a team of two: the Executive Director, Kathi Guerrero, and myself. What I appreciate most is my partnership with Kathi. Not only is she is a great leader, but I am lucky to have her as a mentor and one of my biggest supporters. We complement and challenge one another as thought partners, left brain and right brain, and collaborative learners. We also have wonderful commissioners who are passionate and believe in our work.

What is your proudest moment at EDCOE? Why?

I am simply proud of how successfully our whole EDCOE team (this includes you!) was able to quickly adapt to working from home due to the shelter-in-place order. Not only are we managing through a crisis, we are doing our jobs well…all while juggling our families, virtual learning, health concerns, fires, etc. This challenged us to be more vulnerable and empathetic towards one another, and I think we are a better team now because of it.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have 2 toddler boys that I am obsessed with, so I don’t have any spare time right now. J But if I did, I would paint, do more photography, create digital art, study architecture and interior design, and complete my Master’s degree.

What is something many people may not know about you?

Between 4th grade and college, I learned how to play 9 different instruments and was a member of the Stanislaus symphony orchestra. I haven’t touched an instrument in years, but I can still read sheet music like a book.

If you could meet anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be and why?

My paternal grandfather. He passed away when my dad was 18 years old. I was lucky enough to know and be close to my maternal grandfather, who passed away last year at the age of 109. Our relationship always made me curious about my father’s father and that missing part of my cultural history. I wonder what he was like, what I would’ve learned from him about my family and culture, and I would love to hear stories about my dad as a child.

From supervisor Kathi Guerrero:

Alice is a gift to First 5 El Dorado Commission and EDCOE. We are truly partners and her expertise elevates our work. She epitomizes EDCOEs values everyday by offering high quality service with integrity, coherence, accountability and equity.

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