Karen Marlatt, MA
About my company
Valley Oak Children’s Services is a private nonprofit agency serving Butte County, California. Our programs reflect our commitment to building strong communities and we believe that when families have the services and support they need, they will be able to raise healthy, competent and capable children.
I chose this career path because
Community service is in my blood. My parents instilled in me the importance of helping and serving others, and I knew from an early age I wanted my life's work to be about improving the lives of others. It was in advocating for my son who then struggled in school, that I found my true passion to be advocating for our children.
I prepared for this career by
I received my Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Chico State University and went on to receive my Master's in Arts degree in Education and Counseling from the University of San Francisco. I also received a fellowship from the Sierra Health Foundation and the University of Southern California.
The biggest challenge I've overcome
I was raised in a matriarchal family, so it never dawned on me that women weren't seen as leaders. As I grew older, I came to learn of the male hierarchy that exists in our society and had to overcome the challenges that many women face in being taken seriously and having our voices and opinions heard.
My greatest strength(s)
My greatest strengths include making a difference at the policy-level and advocacy.
My greatest accomplishment to date
13 years ago I took over Valley Oak Children's Services, at which time I was brought in to assess what was a rather failing organization in terms of employee relations and culture. We overhauled the entire organization and board to ensure that everyone has a voice in decision making, and the success I had then and what we've been able to accomplish since, is my greatest accomplishment.
My personal/professional goals
My goal is to keep doing what I do and establish a children's fund to help kids in the county take on more technology and propel them forward. I want to be a part of long lasting, beneficial decisions and perhaps run for office or work with legislators. I would also like top teach college kids how to create policy and movements.
In order to accomplish this vision I serve on a statewide board CAPPA (California Alternative Payment Program Association) as Vice President. We meet quarterly as an advocacy group for a mixed delivery system of public and private community based agencies dedicated to connecting poor families and their children to child care and early learning.
What/Who has inspired me the most
My parents and my family have always been my greatest sources of inspiration.
I most want to be known/remembered for
I want to be remembered as someone who gave of herself to make a difference in the lives of others. I want to be remembered for raising my son and two daughters to be contributing members of society who also feel a responsibility to give back and serve others.
I participate in the following organizations/memberships
- California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA) - Vice President
I have received the following Honors/Awards/Scholarships
- Fellowship - Sierra Health Foundation and University of Southern California
- Commissioner (First Five) Children and Family Commission (Butte County)
I support the missions of these charities/volunteer my time
- Soroptimist International
I enjoy the following hobbies/interests
I love walking my Pomeranians and spending time with my husband at the beach. I also love reading and snorkeling.