A Day in the Life of Brandy Gerdes-Schutz, Senior Director, Compass Career Solutions

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Jul 10
Coley Bergren, Social Media Specialist
Dungarvin National Central Office

Brandy Gerdes-Schutz is no stranger to serving others. As Senior Director of Compass Career Solutions, Brandy is proud of the work she does. “The people that we help have experienced barriers to finding consistent employment or permanent housing,” she shared. “The state of Washington is trying to solve a chronic homelessness problem, and I feel fortunate to be part of a solution.”

Through person-centered work, Compass helps its clients reintegrate into their community. Through one-on-one consultation, Compass supports a vulnerable population get back on their feet by making informed, independent choices through support structured in safety, setting clear boundaries, and most importantly, fostering dependable relationships with its staff. Compass specializes in supported employment, supportive housing and community integration services that help individuals develop a sense of pride as they land a job and find safe and affordable housing. Let’s take a peek at this important work through a Day in the Life with Brandy Gerdes-Schutz:

Today, I started my morning with the Compass team in Spokane, Washington. Nate Rees is a Vocational Specialist. Nate meets with individuals one on one, helping to identify their passions and interests, to match them with employment opportunities that work for them. He and his support dog, Diesel, are a huge help to us in Spokane. I saw today that Diesel had his very own Compass badge, which I thought was adorable and just had to share!

This is Mikel Friedlander, Brandy Mandery and Debra Durham. They are all Team Leads focused on employment services for our operations in Spokane. They were meeting to train Brandy, as she’s new to her role. They are so crucial to our team because they support clients to find engaging employment, working with both employers and individuals to ensure a successful outcome. These leaders make sure our quality of services meet Compass’ established standards, and we appreciate everything they do.

Next, I headed into our (soon to be) new office space in Spokane. We’re moving here to be more accessible to the people we serve as well as the partners we have in our community. I went with Executive Assistant, Kristen Wilke and Area Director, Shawna Parry, to discuss what we need to do to ensure the new space is ready to go when we move in early this fall.

Afterwards, I joined a virtual call with Northwest Regional Director, Brent Aberg, Talent Acquisition Specialists, Kara Marmon and Regional Talent Acquisition Manager, Nikki Lawless, to discuss our recruiting efforts. We talked about an in-person recruiting event on July 10th, being hosted by one of our community partners, ‘The Hive.’ The Hive is a non-traditional library in Spokane centered around arts education. Currently, we have six job openings in Spokane, and we’re hoping to meet qualified candidates at this event. This meeting was taken from my phone due to spotty Wi-Fi. Ironically, that’s what my next meeting was about. I met with our Network Project Team to continue the discussion of getting all our systems on the Dungarvin network. We’re super close to finalizing this project! (Compass Career Solutions was acquired by Minnesota-based Dungarvin in August of 2022). I also want to give a special shoutout to our Project Manager, Jamie Galley. She’s really great at keeping us on task and moving this important work forward.

After a busy day, I finally had a few moments to check my emails and complete approvals, like for the 3rd Annual Compass Community Resource Fair that took place on June 21st. The fair provided free lunches, haircuts, raffles and giveaways, as well as IDs for community members who are in need of one. (An identification card is essential for someone to gain employment, housing, or access opportunities in their community). The Community Resource Fair hosted 25+ vendors offering free services, resources, and consultation to more than 200 community members in need of support. It was a huge success, but it also took a lot of preparation. I’m so proud of the efforts our team makes for supportive events like these. Myriam Campos, Kennewick Program Director, had a vision three years ago, and now it’s turned into an annual event that the community looks forward to!

This is the Spokane office space I use when I come in to meet with my team. Compass is now in nine cities and counting, but I find myself doing much of my work from Spokane. Here’s a snapshot of what today’s agenda included:

  • The Community Employment Alliance (CEA) Board Meeting. The CEA Board is a membership-based alliance of organizations doing supported employment throughout the state of Washington. Much of our work is advocacy with legislators in the state of Washington to improve supported employment services for those we serve. (I’m the Vice President of this fantastic alliance of like-minded individuals committed to advocating, educating, and partnering for employment opportunities for those with disabilities).
  • Interview with the team at Building Evidence on Employment Strategies (BEES) from Rhode Island and Michigan. This is a research study that we are wrapping up that uses evidence-based practices of supported employment with different populations who we serve.
  • A meeting with Shawna Parry, Compass Area Director, to discuss budgets, as well as the employment outcomes we want to achieve, and updates on state policy changes.
  • Connecting with Pat Estes, our new Spokane Program Director, to get to know him. Pat has a strong background in local community services; we’re so excited to have him on our team.
  • Reviewing the open positions on the Compass team. Throughout the state, we are looking to hire eight Employment Specialists, six Housing Case Managers and a Program Director (specifically in Vancouver).
  • Finally, a weekly check-in with my boss, Brent Aberg. One of our big projects right now is mid-year plans, which involves analyzing how we’ve performed thus far and projecting results for the rest of the year and identifying any adjustments that need to be made.

Time for my 190-mile drive home — phew! I snapped this photo of one of my favorite views. This is the Columbia River, and my long, relaxing drive is a nice finish to a long day!

If you are interested in joining the Compass team, view open career opportunities at https://www.careersbycompass.com/jobs.

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