By Lillian Allred, Executive Assistant to County Executive Bruce Dammeier.
I’m right back where I started. Well, kinda.
When many people think of working for local government, job security and good benefits come to mind. To be honest, that’s why I initially applied to Pierce County over 22 years ago.
I first joined the Pierce County Executive’s Office in March 1999. I had little-to-no knowledge about local government (I learned the staff were motivated by the fact that I had experience with Microsoft Word as they were switching over from WordPerfect) but I quickly learned with the bird’s eye view working at the front desk as an office assistant.
More than 22 years, two departments and six titles later, I’m back working in the Executive’s Office as an executive assistant. And, my “why” has changed.
- I’m invested in my community. There are a lot of ways people contribute — by volunteering at a food bank or coaching a little league team. But working for Pierce County means I’m investing in my community where I live, work and play, five days a week, every week of the year. When I sit down at my desk each day, I know my efforts are contributing to the bigger picture. And so are yours!
- It’s meaningful, challenging work. Local government is significant because our work is ultimately tied to building and improving communities. County leadership takes the aspirations of residents and the policy goals of the elected and puts those goals into action.
- The people. For me, enjoying who I work with plays a huge (and deciding) factor in where I work. Let’s be honest. We spend more of our waking hours during the week with our colleagues than we do our family and friends. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the most creative, innovative and passionate individuals who really care about Pierce County’s mission to build strong communities. Collaborating with scores of talented and passionate people on topics that really matter and affect our community is a big reason I’m here — and by working with them I have stepped up my game.
- Work/Life balance is encouraged. As important as our work is, we’re reminded to take time for ourselves. In fact, just last week we were all given a gentle nudge to take the opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate – thanks HR! Work/life balance is critical for our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. And I’m appreciative that my boss (and former bosses) advocate it!
- Diversity is embraced. During my second week as an executive assistant, I received an email from a colleague which read, “There are not many women of color that are in our positions. I love seeing that you are in your new role. It inspires me that one day I can do the same.” She included an inspirational poem written by Amanda Gorman titled, “The Miracle of Morning.” It didn’t dawn on me that I was the first Asian-American in this position. But another colleague did – and that’s major. Our county is home to more than 900,000 people of varying ethnic, cultural, societal, political, religious, geographic, economic, and educational backgrounds and identities. And this diversity should be represented within our workforce. Knowing Pierce County is actively working to create and maintain an accessible, inclusive, and diverse workforce is everything.
Returning to the Executive’s Office where it all started for me places me back in a position where I get an aerial view of all that’s going on and it’s exciting to see all the amazing projects in the works.
Pierce County isn’t just a place to work. For me, it’s an opportunity to serve our neighbors and make a difference in our community. Working here means you have the chance to be a part of providing services for an amazingly diverse population. And I’m 100% in this camp.
What’s your why?
First published on the Pierce County website.
Signe Thorsen says
Well said! I also worked in local governments and agree with your observations.