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Meet Ventura County Program Administrator: Jonathan Gunderson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan Gunderson.

Jonathan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I volunteered in disaster trauma services, started after a tornado in northern Colorado working as disaster behavioral health specialist and then moved to California to attend law school and work at National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at UCLA to work on the national level addressing stress and trauma in children and families following disasters and acts of terrorism.

Has it been a smooth road?
Not initially. I volunteered at two places for the first year and lived in a friend’s unfinished basement. Government involves constant change and adjustment. Getting firefighters and EMS professionals to acknowledge the impact of job stress and trauma requires ongoing creativity and persistence and initiating an interfaith spiritual care disaster response workgroup (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and interfaith groups) to agree upon training standards posed unique challenges.

Who, or what, deserves a lot of credit for where you are today?
My supervisor who allowed me to volunteer for a year before hiring me on.. In addition, a former professor turned mentor has guided my development. I’ve been inspired by the center for creative leadership which always inspired “innovation despite constraints,” critical, I believe, in government. As far as creativity is concerned, the book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” about maintaining relevance and the ability to influence institutions while also preserving ingenuity and creative abilities always motivates me.

What type of clients or projects do you look forward to most?
Uniting diverse stakeholders with a shared common interest around a work project is a favorite type of project. Identifying shared goals, individual strengths, unique assets, to identify a shared project plan going forward.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Project management certification early on to build a more marketable skill set and the capacity to convey measurable outcomes and reports for others. This would ensure more efficiency, I believe, in government and social institutions with limited organizational or personal investment initially.

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