“I feel so proud to be part of an organization that is not afraid to speak up, and that makes me feel safe.”
Read more below from Jackie Alvarez, Camp Director at Camp Galileo Claremont, about her first year on our team, and the ways in which she feels connected to her personal values of empathy and equity as a Galilean.
How did you find out about Galileo?
When I decided to go back to school, I was looking for supplemental work with an organization that represented what I believed in. I began looking for mission-aligned non-profits, but then came across Galileo. Though not a non-profit, I learned that Galileo is a B Corp, and had a real commitment to providing financial assistance to low-income families. In fact, if it wasn’t for the financial assistance program, I may not have applied to Galileo. Equity is incredibly important to me personally so I needed to work somewhere that reflected that.
This past summer was your first as a Camp Director. What has stood out the most to you?
It’s funny because when I first started, I kept hearing about how much support I’d have but I didn’t realize the depth of that support. Each week at camp, a different HQ employee would come to visit, and I had never felt so at ease with company leaders observing my work and that of my team. I truly felt celebrated and uplifted by each person that stopped by. When our CEO, Glen, came to visit I realized that I had been sort of conditioned from past experiences. On some level, I expected him to point out the flaws at camp (because you know he’s the boss!). Instead he highlighted all the great things he’d seen and heard at my site. Another moment that stood out to me [from this past year] was when Galileo chose to publicly voice our stance for the immediate reunification of families at the border. I feel so proud to be part of an organization that is not afraid to speak up, and that makes me feel safe as a person of color on this team.
What’s been the most practical tool you’ve learned at Galileo this year?
We learned a [management] framework called VICTOR which has been an amazing way to center myself as a manager, especially in situations when the way forward may not feel as clear at first. At the root of VICTOR is empathy. Before I came to Galileo I would try to be as understanding a manager as possible, because that’s just who I am as a person. Yet, I sometimes felt a disconnect between who I was and the type of management style that was expected of me. At Galileo, I have learned tangible tools like VICTOR that help to better align my management style with who I am for more effective results. I also have peers and mentors here who reflect a wide range of communication and leadership styles, which helps me to know that my inherent empathy is a strength and not a weakness as a leader.
What’s another way empathy shows up at your camp?
We recognize that our campers may have different energy levels and needs—so we utilized something called a “brain break”. It’s an opportunity for campers to take a few minutes alone in a comfy space. We wanted to normalize this as a way of including different personalities and learning styles. I also made the decision [when extending offers to my staff] to set the tone with my team that they should always feel welcome to come to me for support, or share with me when they need an occasional “brain break” too so we could partner to find the right time and space.
What do you do outside of Galileo?
After working as a Program Director for a non-profit that I really loved, I decided to go back to school. I’m currently studying Human Development with an emphasis on Social Change at Pacific Oaks College. During the school year, you will also find me helping four- and five-year-olds build autonomy, resilience and confidence as a classroom teacher.