Hiring for Good Ep. 10 Dawn Jagger

Hiring for Good

Thank you for tuning in to Hiring For Good. This podcast episode is with Dawn Jagger, Senior Policy Advisor at Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

About Administration for Children and Families: The Administration for Children & Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, youth, individuals and communities with funding, strategic partnerships, guidance, training and technical assistance.

Dawn Jagger Linkedin: dawn-jagger-38a67a2a   ACF Website: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/

Tanis Morris: Director of Business Development at Acumen Executive Search Email: tanis@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Suzanne Hanifin: President at Acumen Executive Search Email: suzanne@acumenexecutivesearch.com

Acumen Executive Search Website: https://www.acumenexecutivesearch.com/

Acumen Executive Search, Portland, Oregon, is proud to present the Hiring For Good Podcast. We have always been informed and inspired by the leaders, recruiting clients, and executive placement candidates we have the honor of working with…. and now we get a chance to share this wisdom.

Hiring for Good Transcript

0:00 well good morning this is Suzanne Hanifin with Acumen Executive Search with Tanis Morris hi there and we are so

0:08 lucky today to have Dawn Jagger with us who’s going to be kind of going through

0:13 her background her learnings but let me kind of give a little bit of background

0:18 on Dawn she is a lawyer went to U of O and Dawn has spent her entire career in civil

0:25 service and has worked up through many different departments within the state

0:30 of Oregon you you came from the insurance division the consumer and business um services and then you spent

0:39 a lot of time at the Oregon Health Authority when you left Oregon Health

0:44 Authority as Chief of Staff you moved on now to um to federal government and now

0:51 you are with the Administration for Children and Family services and what an interesting

1:00 again career decisions to stay as a civil servant and we’d love to kind of

1:05 turn this conversation over to you to kind of walk us through your journey and share with us those deciding

1:13 moments yeah so first of all thank you for having me here it’s been a pleasure getting to know both of you and meeting

1:19 you um sure so my I it’s starts a long

1:24 time ago right so my um my grandmother on my mom side was essentially a civil

1:31 servant what we would call today somebody who’s like a social worker in a hospital navigating systems right

1:37 navigating systems for her community um as an immigrant in Chicago so really doing work that we talk about today

1:44 needing right so when you’re in crisis you’re in a hospital you’re you’re doing you don’t know how to access services

1:50 etc so that’s really like that’s just always been in me um and it’s part of my

1:55 upbringing is that we just need to do good especially when have so many things

2:00 that are available to me that I have access to I don’t have as many stumbles as other people do necessarily then I

2:06 better be doing good with the work that I what’s with with what’s presented in front of me so really it’s kind of

2:11 always been in the background you do something in service you’re volunteering you’re doing you’re doing something um

2:17 and then like anybody in high school and college I did not want to do what my parents did so I said over and over and

2:23 over again I will never be a lawyer I’m not going to do it never going to go to law school all these things right that you say because both my parents had um

2:30 were were attorneys um and I have two brothers who are Engineers a sister who’s a midwife but everyone just I

2:37 wouldn’t call us all activists but certainly engaged and constantly questioning to try to make whatever

2:42 system we’re in better um and so again I was saying heck no I’m not going to not going to not going to go into anything

2:48 but then I worked for um after college I worked for presidential campaign and I

2:53 realized that everybody developing policy in the presidential campaign they were all lawyers and and so what I

3:00 realized was I want nothing to do with a courtroom and I don’t want to litigate I don’t like that contention but I did

3:06 want to be able to influence policy influence politics I saw the connection

3:11 between where policy was stumbling or had some mishaps and wasn’t serving folks very well and I thought well if

3:17 there’s a way to change that if there’s a way to change those policies and that kind of thing it’s through becoming a lawyer you got to figure out the system

3:24 before you can change it so really that was kind of the first shift pivot whatever we want to call it but truly

3:29 like always inside me to figure out so it went to law school and then you know just based on personal experiences I

3:35 knew that I wanted to be in the area of like this intersection of health Behavioral Health Mental Health Services Addiction

3:41 and Criminal Justice because to me when you take a huge step back looking at treating and serving folks who are

3:49 experiencing mental illness through the criminal justice system just didn’t make sense so I wanted to jump into that

3:55 space But I didn’t know where I didn’t have a mentor I didn’t have somebody saying oh this is the agency this is the this is a nonprofit this is where you

4:00 should go to be able to engage in these kinds of conversations so I just figured you know what I can always work hard I

4:07 will work hard no matter where I am so I might as well jump in somewhere in Health Criminal Ju.. you know name the

4:12 area and it just so happened I started at an insurance division where we they regulated health insurance plans and I

4:18 figured you got to start somewhere and then um you know I do work really really hard and I quickly was able to meet

4:23 folks who were able to put me in different leadership positions and then that really is is that you you named the

4:28 trajectory since then but just always um questioning the systems that we have to

4:35 be able to figure out how on Earth do we make them serve folks better and making lots of mistakes along the way but that’s kind of that’s a little bit about

4:41 my journey fascinating I know that that that in and of itself leads to to so

4:46 many questions but how how fascinating and what an interesting um Journey

4:51 you’ve been on thus far so along the way what would you say were the most

4:57 formative leadership experiences that that that you went through you know was

5:02 was there a particular Mentor or situation that really taught you about leadership or name a number of them yeah

5:10 um so I’ll just name I mean there have been so many folks in my life who

5:16 have helped me both professionally and personally but kind of all in the same areas of like lead it’s all leadership

5:23 development so whether it was a coach and basketball right I played lots and lots of sports so figuring out how do

5:28 you how do you engage with teammates how do you engage with referees right like all these things are actually all for me

5:33 instilling leadership qualities so lots of coaches lots of different folks but where I always come back to is so my

5:41 mother is an incredible leader and she whether it was like how she went about

5:47 dinner table conversations how she engaged us as kids to say no you guys

5:53 have autonomy you have authority to ask questions and their systems and here’s how you navigate this um so she’s just

6:00 unbelievably formative but I guess the the biggest thing is being an executive at the Oregon Health Authority during

6:06 covid right so that is what right so I was part of the the small team of folks here in Oregon who led the the state

6:13 agency and obviously at the direction of the governor um but who led that day in and day out during covid and so that um

6:21 I mean I had already been a leader for a bit but to do that type of work 24/7 in a

6:26 global pandemic was pretty was formative Lots lots of stumbles that I can go through all of them I mean we we failed

6:32 miserably in a whole bunch of ways as leaders in Oregon and we also were unbelievably successful and really it’s

6:38 all a testament to who Oregonians are but that that right there is is a is a process and and I’m happy to describe

6:44 kind of two features that I use to kind of like grade myself and we talk about as Leaders so one was right you talk

6:51 about service and like why I’m in service and I just I so deeply believe that government should be used for good

6:57 right like it needs to be there for folks when they need it it doesn’t have to be overly expansive but it needs to be there and so when I look back at the

7:05 pandemic and the the executive leadership in particular I think of two things one is did we meet folks’ needs

7:10 in the moment so were we able to help prevent deaths were we able to help keep hospitals open and in a lot of

7:16 categories we were right a lot of the after action reports like Oregon did better than most other states actually

7:23 but in the other category which I think about a lot is when this happens again

7:28 or when another emergency happens again did we grow as government in trust building did

7:34 we become more trustworthy so that folks rely on our words next time or did we kind of erode that trust and for me

7:42 there’s a breakdown with different communities right different communities experienced Oregon’s government and national government differently and that

7:49 to me is disappointing right disappointing in my own actions I want to be really curious and explore where

7:54 did those stumbles happen how did those disconnects happen how did they grow where did they er right all of those

8:00 kinds of questions because to me it’s it’s the con you have to have both of those things you got to act in the moment but you also have to you have to

8:07 we all know something else is going to happen so are we better off are we neutral or are we worse off than we were

8:12 and I think it really depends on on what commun which Community you ask and how we we were able to respond so that’s

8:19 those are some of the answers to your question and then I’m just curious just to expand on a tiny little bit how do

8:25 you think those experiences shaped you what did you personally take away from them as a as a

8:33 leader I learned to trust my gut so much more than ever before that is truly

8:40 that’s the biggest thing is that I think that whether it’s through law school or

8:46 whatever it was trusting your gut is something that was programmed out of me

8:52 it was not necessarily valued and it is it’s something though that is actually a

8:58 complete data point it is a complete data point of um what I’m experiencing

9:03 in the moment what other folks are experiencing in the moment right we talked earlier and I talk a lot about like it’s actually also an

9:09 intergenerational experience right folks the science is finally catching up with what cultures have known for a long time

9:15 which is our DNA is filled with our ancestors right and they also are in our gut and what it is that our gut is

9:21 telling us so trusting that gut moment and then acting and acting can literally

9:27 mean I need to say pause to a conversation I don’t have to know the answer in fact as a leader I rarely know the answer but I

9:34 know who to ask right I’m the type of leader who’s a generalist who make sure that I bring teams together I never need

9:40 to know the answer I want people around me who are way smarter than me in areas right and then I just know though that

9:46 what my job is is to ask that question to pause the conversation to bring in somebody who I can sense and feel has

9:53 also that gut feeling that they’re uncomfortable with but for some reason they’re not speaking up that’s my

9:58 obligation then to be the want to say actually you know what let’s set a pause and actually I know this person well enough to know I don’t call you out I

10:05 let the space be whatever it needs to be to then have you bring in your thoughts experience whatever and then amplify

10:12 right all of those kind of nuances to conversation that gets us to a better place a better decision that kind of

10:17 thing so that’s kind of my main the main takeaways I would say no and and and you

10:23 lead beautifully into the next question which is we all have the sense of values

10:29 and they are internalized and they show up through our leadership and so when

10:34 you look at you what are those values that you carry with you and how have you

10:42 operationalized them into everyday work um well I’ve messed up 9 million

10:48 bajillion times I’ll start with that right um so but it’s this you know I

10:55 think folks talk a lot about owning your mistakes and for me it’s always about exploring them cuz ownerships feels like

11:02 control sometimes and like oh I have this little box where I have to name that I oh I messed up here but then nobody actually ask questions about it

11:08 right and for me it’s it’s always about how do you explore so to your question about how do you um have the values and

11:16 and turn those into operations so um let’s take for example vaccine roll out

11:22 right so if we’re asking operations question let’s let’s just talk about it so um or we can talk about an operation

11:29 so we had started off in Covid with lots of decisions about the general population

11:36 right so generally Oregon is a white state and but there is a lot of diversity underneath that um and a lot

11:43 of groups that are not necessarily represented at decision-making tables but the value that the leadership team

11:49 brought and the values that I bring is the number of folks is not what

11:55 matters What mattered is matters is that government is taking care of people especially folks who are most vulnerable

12:01 and that we are listening to what it is that they need and it was that first step of not listening that we were we

12:06 were not right we weren’t taking action we heard things but we weren’t taking action because there were so many competing competing priorities competing

12:13 values but really for me it is about are we actually supporting folks where they are is government doing good are we

12:19 creating more barriers actually to actually having folks be able to access the services that they need so right

12:25 lots and lots of stumbles um at the beginning of Covid and so at the beginning of part of the vaccine roll out and will

12:32 set aside prioritization of groups what we said though was how on Earth are folks going to access this right so we

12:39 know that there’s plenty of folks who have access to their primary care provider they’re able to go to their

12:44 doctor right but we also know that folks who have that relationship with their primary care provider are primarily

12:49 affluent they’re primarily white so there’s a whole demographic for Oregonians that don’t have that so how on Earth are

12:55 we getting vaccine access which we all know we need to have or some right there at that moment that was a priority um

13:01 how do we then actually have that be accessible to folks well one of the ideas thrown out was well let’s just

13:08 let’s have some sort of events in parking lots and then we’re thinking why like how is that a trusted Source who

13:13 wants to go to a park right it’s this kind of thing so it’s engaging in the conversations and then saying you know what I will actually listen to what it

13:20 is that community members wanted so whether it’s going to churches whether it’s going to barber shops whether it’s going to the farms and Farm Workers

13:26 where folks needed to have this information how do do we go to you so that we’re actually getting this

13:31 information and then on the back end of operationalizing right that’s a lot of work for staff that is a lot of work to

13:39 shift trajectory to rather than have a policy that’s for the entire State say

13:44 we actually need to have some focus we need to have focused in community listening and it’s not just listening

13:50 it’s then backed up with action and those feedback loops right we talk about continuous quality improvement all the

13:55 time but we typically don’t associate that with Community engagement or actually like responding to community

14:01 it’s like oh this system over here no no no let’s actually apply those principles that we know so well and let’s put that

14:07 into this community engagement process and let’s learn how to do that differently so there’s an entire change management process for all the staff who

14:14 are already dealing with Covid they’re dealing with their family members they’re dealing with remote like all these different things and now on top of

14:19 that we’re saying the way that we’ve done work has actually contributed to these in inequities that exist right now

14:26 so let’s shift doesn’t mean anybody meant to do it doesn’t it’s on purpose nothing like that but we do need to make

14:31 that intentional shift which is really uncomfortable for a lot of folks so then moving that then you continue I could

14:37 talk for hours about operations because that is my that is where I that is where I live and breathe but it’s it’s really through those conversations and you use

14:44 some some key words sure throughout this earlier the word was was curiosity and I

14:52 thought that was interesting when you are talking about such a structured

14:58 operational approach you know there’s a methodology that that you’re using and curiosity

15:05 doesn’t necessarily fit but yet it does because you’re asking yourself is this

15:10 the best way yeah is this the best way what else do we have you know but you

15:16 also talked about trust as as a core value so when you’re looking at

15:23 trust again you’re you’re going beyond you and your coworker’s relationship it

15:31 is community so looking back Now that you know Covid is over right um what are those

15:39 key learnings that you had from from that yeah so they I think that probably

15:47 the first thing that always pops up when I think about learnings and just the

15:52 journey is really and I hate this word but there isn’t a better like English word it’s just this like resiliency this

15:59 constant fight in people that I think sometimes is undervalued and we just don’t like help folks and so I

16:04 appreciate you said you reflected back to me the words trust and curiosity cuz I’m I’m I am a a feelings values based

16:14 leader right I don’t lead from like uh subject matter expertise I lead from a

16:19 space of interpersonal connection I lead with growth and with um compassion for

16:27 the person who’s in front of me and and it’s genuine because I genuinely think most people are in the jobs that they’re

16:32 in because they’re really good at it and they want to be there and it’s really for me about how do I help support you

16:38 in that space what has happened for you to not necessarily be able to show up as who you are in whatever meeting it might

16:45 be right and so for me I’m I’m I’m shifting to to that becau.. to this like the

16:50 values part of this because it’s back to trusting my gut I knew that I knew that

16:55 leadership for me and Leadership leadership during times of absolute chaos and turmoil it’s going to be based

17:02 on relationships nobody is going to work 24 hours in a row for me um or for the

17:07 organization or for the state of Oregon over and over and over again because of punching a clock it is because they feel

17:14 an obligation to do this work they feel like they need to be here they feel like they can be a part of something that’s

17:20 bigger than themselves right that’s the thing that helps people that helps people show up every day especially in

17:25 that heightened level of Crisis um and so that’s what we want wanted to demonstrate right I always wanted to demonstrate and I continue to always

17:32 want to demonstrate just this like I just value the person in front of me and I value getting to know them as a person

17:38 and I value meeting them where they’re at and then helping us grow and helping us

17:44 figure out all right where do we need to go from there so it’s kind of a a mis-mosh of a of an answer to your

17:49 question but it’s all all these pieces that just kind of come together well it kind of beautifully leads into the next

17:54 question because so I love the sensibility you’re bringing to your work

18:00 you know that very personal um approach and I I was thinking when Suzanne was

18:06 talking about curiosity trust um you know personal relationships those aren’t

18:13 necessarily qualities that lend themselves to big governmental

18:19 operations so I know that you know the the organization that you work for and

18:25 and the ones that you have worked for these big government bodies they also have their mission so how do you

18:32 weave your approach to your work into that broader organizational Mission and

18:37 then the beautiful thing is this is about extending beyond the walls of the workplace into the community which is

18:43 literally what your job is so um so if if I’m making sense no you totally are

18:49 absolutely the question is you know how how do you kind of marry the individual

18:55 value set with the broader organizational mission and then and then set it forth you know yeah

19:03 so people and any large organization what we’re really good at mucking up is

19:10 taking an individual problem and then trying to solve it systemically we add

19:16 so many layers of silliness to a process whatever we forget the original purpose

19:21 we just have we just add so many layers of ridiculousness and then not only are

19:26 we trying to solve one problem but then you’re trying to solve that one problem in a system that is crazy crazy crazy

19:33 complicated right so any one so everything that happens in a state

19:38 agency or in a government right really started from some individual having a problem some legislator getting a phone

19:44 call the governor’s office getting a phone call right something real happened some failure was happening right some

19:50 something somebody was trying to do the right thing trying to figure something out trying to problem solve but then we

19:56 have systems come into play we have rules regulations policies but for me instead of getting bogged down and

20:02 overwhelmed by that I’m like well somebody created all these in the first place so they actually can be changed

20:08 and they actually were have probably been changed before but it just takes the time the discipline to figure out so

20:14 all right what is it that we actually need to do and then not get lost in the

20:19 starting point of why it is that we’re doing something and not get lost in those layers of bureaucracy and so for

20:25 me what is helpful is reminding folks of why they there in the first place especially in government work right

20:31 because it is folks get both overwhelmed and hopeless and then that leads to the

20:38 inaction that leads to adding more layers of bureaucracy that leads to adding the kind of protectionist mindset

20:44 that folks get into because they’re they’re they are worried about taking a risk they are worried but if you if you

20:50 kind of recalibrate what taking a risk means right for me the risk is in the fact that that individual was failed by

20:57 government something messed up not a judgment not anything like that but something we miss some we miss some

21:02 right something’s not happening somebody’s not being protected so that risk is for that individual and the family and the community and so rather

21:09 than think about it being risky for us to change a policy to the unknown right because there’s always going to be unknowns why aren’t we just saying well

21:16 this thing that was happening right here so take for example somebody can’t access Services because interpretive

21:21 Services aren’t paid for so right so somebody in downtown Portland needs some sort of Mental Health Services but they

21:27 don’t speak English but organization who’s coming to help them doesn’t speak their language and for some reason they

21:33 don’t pay to actually do this so you can’t right so we have a big system failure right here so how is it that we

21:38 can take that moment and make sure that we’re actually paying for the right thing so that a service that might actually be available but just not in

21:44 somebody’s language not culturally relevant to what they need how do we make all those changes and it’s amazing

21:49 how when you bring it back to the story of the individual the Community member right into something that’s tangible

21:55 folks want to act folks are able to then pull the policies that they know and understand their expertise and say oh

22:01 wow I can actually fix this problem for somebody oh wow I am actually making a meaningful difference right and then

22:07 that’s when their ideas come about because workers especially in state government who have been there for a

22:13 decade two decades they’ve seen it but what they’ve also seen is the inaction and that inaction creates you know

22:19 hopelessness which makes perfect sense anybody who’s been in that position would feel hopeless and would stop

22:25 acting right and so then the moment that they’re able to see oh my God gosh not only am I empowered to change this thing for this family I actually have these

22:32 other two dozen ideas that haven’t been acted on that I haven’t brought up in 20 years maybe I can raise my hand and do

22:38 it again and for me those are the moments of curiosity those are the moments that I pause any conversation

22:44 for those are the moments that I applaud those are the moments that I encourage those are the moments that I live for

22:49 cuz it is never my idea back to the point like my life has been unbelievably privileged I am not fail services are

22:55 not not coming to me I am there so I don’t know what these ideas necessarily are but I always want to create an

23:02 environment where folks are able to bring those up whether they’re to the last party whether it’s community

23:07 members whether it is Staff right it’s actually the same process and that for me is why it is so critically important

23:14 that we build that trust and trustworthiness of government so that Community can continue to bring those

23:21 ideas because they already have we just didn’t act we decided not to act we decided to put it on a shelf so it’s

23:27 it’s all that kind of push and pull for me it’s all about how do I support creating an environment that keeps those

23:32 ideas coming and especially the action associated with it how do we keep that momentum going and then it just builds

23:38 on itself it’s the coolest thing I’m like can I just not have a job like I don’t need y’all do it y’all are the ones who know these things no that is

23:45 absolutely beautiful and I will say as a resident of Oregon I wish all the

23:53 leaders looked at it through that lens of solving problems and and again

23:59 creating action cuz it is easy to put things on a shelf it is yeah and so

24:07 let’s take this and talk about teams and how you build teams and how do you

24:13 mentor the next generation up yeah um

24:18 it’s a funny thing to think next generation because I’m always the younger person typically in um rooms but

24:23 I you know so it’s so I um I never work

24:28 on my own it’s another reason why I never wanted to be a lawyer or a litigator cuz I just the idea of like a

24:33 solo practice or anything like that or being alone in a courtroom right that’s just not the space that I am comfortable

24:39 and that’s something that has taken me a minute to realize that actually that’s not where I thrive I need to be in

24:44 conversation I’m a verbal processor I need teammates I need folks to question my assumptions I need to get really good

24:51 at explaining my thought process so folks can poke holes throughout the entirety of my thought process right um

24:58 so I’ll start with teams are where that’s my jam that is that is where I’d always prefer to be rather than any any

25:04 sort of individual individual work um and so for me team building is just is

25:11 my favorite back to playing basketball or whatever it is or coaching basketball my girlfriends and I have coached fifth

25:18 grade boys basketball we you know it’s just that to me is one of my favorite things to do is build teams and I think

25:25 that I think that the job of a of a leader of a team is to create that

25:32 Dynamic where the team actually loves cares for and holds each

25:37 other accountable I think about it a lot like with siblings right my siblings and I and literally what my mother did for

25:43 us like how is it that we actually learn to care for one another because then that translates to everything else how

25:49 do we hold each other accountable and not in a shame way not in a gotcha way nothing like that how do we know each

25:55 other’s individual strengths and challenges and areas of growth areas of exploration how do we know the like the

26:01 je ne c’est quoi the reason of esset rate why are we here how do we actually connect with people on that level so that we know

26:08 when somebody’s quiet on a zoom call it doesn’t mean they don’t have an idea it actually means something else is going

26:13 on either in their personal life or it means something is happening in the meeting that they’re uncomfortable with and we all need to pause and take that

26:19 moment or maybe it’ll turn out that that person doesn’t like it when the attention is on them but what but what

26:26 is critical to me is that the team figures that out and I step back right so my job at the beginning is to lead

26:32 with that and to show is to set that example and explain what I am doing right that is what I do constantly so

26:39 whether I’m in a new meeting whether I’m in a new team dynamic I’ll I will will be in the middle of something I’ll feel

26:44 the things that happen in my body when I’m like I don’t really like the direction of this and then I say it I say hey I think we need to pause hey

26:50 guess what I don’t actually know what it is that’s making me uncomfortable in this moment but something is and then oh

26:57 every time three heads going are going to nod cuz they were feeling the same thing oh interesting think this might be

27:02 the reason that I’m actually feeling this discomfort oh actually I think it might be this thing oh you know what

27:07 probably not the first thing that I just said but thanks for letting me get that out of my body so that the other thing could come to fruition and I could

27:13 figure out what’s actually going on and then the moment that everybody else takes over is the perfect moment that’s

27:19 when cuz I don’t right but I’m just loud enough and assertive enough that I don’t

27:24 get nervous in those first few moments where you know that’s not everybody else’s so that to me is where like why I

27:30 think that I’m in these positions of leadership that I’m in is to say that first thing to take that first step so

27:36 that we have that different environment where everybody else can step in and come up with something else beautiful

27:41 that like I don’t really need to have anything to do with honestly and so when you hire yeah what are those those

27:48 characteristics and values that you look for in an individual when building those

27:53 teams yeah I look for core values and what does that core value look like

27:59 showing up in groups like so for me it is you can have a core value of service

28:05 you can have a core value of like working to address inequities you can have a core value of um just whatever it

28:13 is right we I think we all have these core values but in a leadership position

28:18 the obligation especially in government I think becomes different because you have to act on them you can’t actually

28:24 let the moments go by when a policy or something is in development that is

28:30 counter to that value right so when you have that moment go by and you say nothing to me that is on you right to me

28:37 that is on the leader who who decided not to say something who decided not to speak up then you’re contributing to the

28:42 status quo which is causing these inequities which is causing there to be these disparities whether it’s rural and

28:47 urban etc. so for me it is do you have the value do you have some what what are those values and then what does it look

28:54 like to speak up about them what does it look like to build buyin what does it look like when there is a barrier to

29:00 addressing that right what does that actually look like how does it look to you to to actually act on this and have

29:06 you what is have you done that before and then where are all your stumbles because that’s that to me is the those are the critical pieces for me because

29:13 especially in large agencies that are doing a whole bunch of things I don’t we

29:20 have the experts we have the subject matter experts we have the policy folks we have folks who can answer specific

29:25 questions right and so for me it really is about like how do you bring folks together how do you question how do you

29:31 have that curiosity and then how do you move something forward that’s kind of that’s what I kind of look for well

29:36 honestly I i’ I feel like I’m sitting here listening to the next governor of work or something this is I know that’s

29:44 not what you want but I’m like wow this is such a beautiful approach to public first time on

29:50 uncomfortable you’re it’s all good I should have said it I went there no you get you I appreciate it’s all good so

29:56 then we can all have good but but I’m happy to talk about why that that path might not be the right direction and

30:03 like how I want to help other folks and be encouraged to be in that space like that Absolut I mean I believe you I

30:10 believe in service I believe in what it can do and and all of those things so yes you feel free to ask your question I just had to laugh well no it’s okay it

30:17 was a it was a path I didn’t mean to make it uncomfortable yeah we can talk about it quickly you I mean that might

30:23 be more interesting the question I was going to ask you is what advice would you give to your younger self you’re very

30:30 young and you’ve accomplished a lot in a in a relatively you know shorter amount of time than most people in your

30:36 position so if you want to marry those two questions I mean because it sounded

30:42 like when we spoke earlier that you did initially think you would go into um

30:48 yeah yeah so so um leadership roles yeah I did so I absolutely right back to why

30:56 did I go to law school in the first place right right so policy policy change people actively talking about

31:02 what on Earth is completely messed up with all these systems how are we failing right that type of um

31:07 conversation I I don’t feel the judgment that some people feel when we talk about failures of system right some people and

31:14 it makes sense they take it really personally they internalize it and all good right so that let’s so I I embrace

31:20 the fact that um government is not working as folks expect it to and it’s not it’s just not

31:26 delivering how folks need it to right just not even not at all and so in those moments I thought to myself oh how you

31:33 change that is through political leadership you run a campaign Etc um and

31:39 so that was the trajectory and what I realized though in being up close with

31:45 political leadership and there are incredible political leaders especially here in Oregon and actually now that

31:51 I’ve been at the federal level across the country they are incredibly effective values-based political leaders

31:57 but the work the action the operations the how did we actually become the first

32:02 state in Oregon to have the highest black rate of vaccine how did we in in the country excuse me right Oregon

32:09 became the first state to have a black vaccine rate that was higher than our white counterparts right that was unique

32:15 that was huge that was big especially with the disparities of death and hospitalizations right so the actual

32:21 operations it doesn’t happen with the politically elected folks and what I through mentors and through folks who

32:27 are around me what I was able to learn is that my skill set and where I’m best positioned is in that operations is in

32:35 those teams it’s helping manage a 6,000 person agency right helping to support and pick the right people feel the

32:40 things in somebody who somebody hasn’t seen before and say oh wow why is it that you’ve been put on the bench why is

32:46 it that you actually aren’t the one who’s the shooting guard right now like you actually have those skills you know how to question you know how to bring a

32:52 team together turn you know those those skill sets might not have been valued previously but man get get in here right

32:58 now and let’s start mucking things up let’s do this together so it was really more of a a shift of I don’t feel like I

33:05 will be as effective in what I want to do and also it’s just not my skill set my skill set is not going out and

33:11 talking to a bunch of people and then not doing something about it like for me I’m like I can’t just go to the next

33:16 listening session because guess what we just heard something from a bunch of people who’s told us these things for probably like 80 years they’ve told us

33:23 the same things over and over again that we haven’t done anything about so I don’t want to contribute to that I don’t want to continue that I want to be able

33:29 to take what it is that we heard and say all right what can we do about this what can’t we do about this and the moment we

33:35 say we can’t do it about do something about it let’s go tell them let’s go tell people so that they aren’t just

33:41 left there hanging continuing to knock on the door to say why haven’t you done anything about it and we’ve been too

33:47 scared to say actually we can’t actually this is what needs to happen actually go talk to your legislator about X Y or Z

33:52 right like we don’t have to stay stuck in this space of like I couldn’t help what makes it worse is then not telling

33:59 somebody right cuz that makes nobody likes that nobody likes to have their information taken from them extracted

34:05 from them whatever terminology you want to use and then never hear back that’s just it’s just not a helpful place to be

34:11 so that was really my shift right and I learned so much I went through um emerge Oregon which is this incredible

34:17 organization right national organization that trains women how to run for office it was unbelievably helpful it helped my

34:23 network it helped me I gained mentors it was it’s an incredible opportunity and really does um remarkable things to

34:30 help values-based women in particular become leaders right and it helps them build that network it helps them be

34:37 surrounded by people who also value like gut thinking like how to do things differently right it all of those all of

34:43 those kinds of things and I just realized that it’s not the not necessarily the trajectory that that I wanted to take that’s that’s me in a

34:49 nutshell yeah and then to to follow up with um Tanis’s second question thank

34:54 you so looking back again what what advice would you give your 20-year-old self oh my gosh keep playing basketball

35:03 no I’m just kidding um so it all goes back I’m on repeat I know

35:11 but it really is it it is this trust your gut like I there have been incredible articles

35:19 talking about how right what our bodies are actually

35:24 doing all day long right memory is not just something in the brain memory is actually located throughout your body

35:31 feelings stay in your body your great grandparents is experiences have come

35:36 through generations they are in your body and these are things that cultures have known for a very very very long

35:43 time and that has really like kind of been deprogrammed out of us right a lot of times we’re just set to do a series

35:49 of things we’re expected to go to law school we’re expected to whatever it is that expect expectation is placed on us

35:55 and so then that’s the world that we see and that’s the like kind of narrow focus that we have but there’s something in us

36:02 I have yet to meet somebody where I haven’t figured out or I haven’t engaged in a conversation where they had that

36:08 internal pause where they had that moment of reflection where they had that like ha I didn’t think about it oh yeah

36:13 that was what I wanted to do when I was three oh yeah that actually was this experience that I had oh yeah why did I lose that why did I lose track of that

36:20 and for me it’s like how do you connect somebody back to that person back to that feeling because when that becomes

36:27 centered again in you it is incredible but what you can do cuz all of a sudden

36:32 you’re not fighting against yourself that you didn’t even know you were fighting against so for me it’s just it

36:38 is always about trusting that it’s about trusting that it’s about stop being so timid about speaking out even if you

36:44 don’t know what you’re going to say that for me was big right that perfection mentality of having to know what I’m

36:50 going to say if I’m going to raise my hand something like that no actually just take a second tell folks you’re not

36:57 ready to move on and that’s perfectly enough in fact it’s probably more than enough cuz other folks are likely

37:03 feeling that too but also even if other folks aren’t I’m worthy I’m valuing myself enough to say I’m not getting it

37:10 and if there’s a reason I’m in this room then there’s a reason that I need to speak up so that that to me is what it’s is a lot about is like how do we

37:17 encourage folks to like get back to that like body mind whatever wellbeing whatever we’re calling it these days to actually

37:23 then act on that and feel supported in that and grow in that cuz it’s not always going to be right like you got to figure out how to grow into that and

37:29 trust it in different ways um but that’s really that’s what I what I always

37:34 encourage folks that I’m with is figuring out and the one other thing that I will share is there are things

37:40 that we all do that are tells right and that people around us actually do see

37:45 them and notice them we don’t always see them and zoom has been this incredible cool thing for folks to really see your

37:52 face right so as an example I constantly talk like this I I never get flustered I

37:58 never write so all during Covid this is just this is how I am I’m engaged da but apparently what I do when um when folks

38:07 are not well when we’re not being in service when we’re messing things up right so when we’re not doing things that we

38:13 should be doing and that we aren’t acting fast enough or whatever I flip my hair and my staff would tell me the

38:19 deeper the flip the more they knew we needed to change directions it was pretty funny and so I was able to watch

38:25 myself on camera and I was like oh boy I even did the side flip uh oh right and that’s kind of an extreme version but we

38:31 all have them right and so people if I’m a hand talker so if I’m not talking with my hands that means something’s going

38:37 I’m not connected to whatever it is right you you nod your head right there’s just a lot of cues that we can

38:43 help and the moment you recognize that cue in somebody we’re now connecting at a different level so then let’s go into

38:49 that level right let’s have that kind of conversation so for me it’s trusting yourself and it is just really about

38:55 figuring out what is it that’s inside of you that I want to help us uncover and like let’s go do that let’s not deal

39:01 with the other stuff let’s go do that that’s kind of me well and you know this podcast is called hiring for good and it

39:08 means different things to different people so what does it mean to you yeah

39:14 so um I love that the title is ambiguous

39:20 and so for me it is literally that question right from for me I I’m going

39:25 to not answer your question because that’s who I am because it’s never about me so for me it is it’s this beautiful

39:31 conversation opportunity like for me it is what does that mean for you like how how does that turn in what does that

39:37 turn into for you does hiring for good mean those values right it’s just there’s this whole range and so I mean

39:43 for me in service what good means is always defined by the person that I’m trying to serve it is never defined by

39:50 me ever it never ever should I should have nothing to do with this other than doing the thing that you’re asking me to do like really truly right I don’t need

39:57 this thing I’m not the one who knows how to access it you do so good for me means

40:03 what does the community what does Oregon what does whomever how are they defining it in this moment and then how do we

40:08 actually make sure that we tailor it to their needs what they’ve identified so that that to me is what’s what’s

40:14 critical well yeah what a pleasure I love I love the the idea of you know good as a fluid fluid term it’s been

40:21 such a pleasure thank you very much for all these wonderful thoughts and ideas

40:26 and a really beautiful sensibility that you’re bringing to public leadership um

40:32 and I think you know I was reflecting when you were talking about your values I’m like I think another one you forgot to mention was accountability you you

40:40 want to be accountable really quickly and that’s beautiful yeah um Dawn again

40:45 thank you so much and um we we may bring bring you back for a secondary

40:52 conversation anytime anytime I’m here for it well thank you this was Hiring for Good don’t forget to follow rate

40:59 review and subscribe and um we are just very grateful for your time here today

41:04 absolutely thank you both so much and the team here oh my gosh this is incredible it’s remarkable thank you thanks for joining

41:12 us today at Hiring for Good if you were inspired by our conversation don’t forget to like follow and subscribe

41:18 wherever you get your podcast and if you want to learn more about our Executive Search Services check us out at www

41:25 hiring for good.net or our company website Acumen Executive Search thanks

41:31 so much and don’t forget to join us next time for another in-depth conversation about transformational leadership until

41:37 then have fun