In May, we welcomed Tia Lawson who is focusing on increasing our placement of Companis Workers in Snohomish County, as well as deepening our relationships with our Workers, nonprofit partners, and the wider community. Before joining Companis, Tia worked for over a decade in higher education as an instructor of English language learners and a program leader designing educational and employment pathways for vulnerable community members.
Here she is, in her own words.
What drew you to Companis?
I read the job description about developing relationships, having conversations with people about how they’d like to volunteer, and then connecting them to the right nonprofit. It felt closely related to the work I’ve done in education: Ensuring students choose an academic path or an employment path that suits them. In addition to loving the idea of working one-on-one with individuals, I also welcome the opportunity to manage and grow Companis’ program in Snohomish County.
What ideas do you have for expanding Companis’ work in Snohomish County?
I’d like to tap into the younger demographic, maybe those who are enrolled in our community college system who need professional experience while benefiting the organizations they’re placed with. Also, I want to foster and deepen our existing relationships with organizations in Snohomish County.
Companis was impressed with your work with diverse populations. How do you see that playing out in Snohomish County?
I hope to extend our outreach to non-English speaking communities and get buy-in from the nonprofits serving those individuals. Finding bilingual Companis Workers is a goal of mine, too. In addition, I want to reach out to our Native American communities in Snohomish County to find ways we can partner. It will take time to develop these relationships and gain trust, but it’s worth the investment.
Tell us one surprising thing about yourself.
After college, I traveled to Thailand. My plan was to stay a couple of weeks, but I ended up staying for over eight months! I started my trip by staying with a Thai girlfriend in Bangkok. I also traveled around by myself and was able to visit my friend’s extended family who were very generous. Two years later, I returned to Southeast Asia to complete my practicum for my Master’s degree, focusing on building an adult early learning literacy program in Laos.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
I’ve had a sticky note next to my desk for years with Maya Angelou’s words that say, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I think about this sentiment often. I recognize that as I interact with new people, my perspective will change and even how I approach certain situations will change. There will be times when I’ll have to acknowledge my own fallibility and admit that I was wrong. Learning is not for the faint of heart; there is always space for growth and reflection.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am very excited to start this work in Snohomish, and I want to share that I am also excited about welcoming our second son into the world at the end of August. I look forward to diving into this work until that time, then taking some time away to give birth and be with my newborn. I look forward to returning to Companis and building on the momentum we are starting now!