FOR THE PUBLIC: Jean Soliz, Grass Valley |

FOR THE PUBLIC: Jean Soliz, Grass Valley

My job title: Executive director, Nevada County Children and Families First Commission

What I do in my job: Manage for the commission as they work to establish a comprehensive system of services for infants to 5-year-olds.

Why my job is important to the public: Recent brain research tells us that early childhood is of key importance in determining a child’s future health, socio-emotional and intellectual well-being. The Children and Families First Commission uses Proposition 10 tobacco tax dollars to invest in our community. Commissioners have invested more than $2.5 million in childcare quality, preschools, playgrounds, music and arts, family support systems and other great projects. This is the first time public dollars have been available for early childhood, and California voters have twice supported this priority.

The special skills and talents I bring to my job: I have a long history of social services advocacy, policy-making and administration.

The best part of my job is when: I watch the commissioners hear or see the results of their work. Their faces come alive when they dedicate a new family resource center or hear from a mom who got off drugs and learned to be a better parent for her baby.

The part of my job that I like least is: When there isn’t enough money to fund a great idea.

A day of work I’ll always remember was … the first day on the job. There was a computer, an empty desk and a long and complicated law. My job was to create an agency from the ground up!

How I got my job: I went trolling on the Internet for a progressive social services job and it had to be in one of my five favorite Northern California counties. What a thrill to successfully compete for a position in my very favorite California county.

How long I’ve been working here: I’ve been here three years.

My dream job would be: I’m in a dream job.

My family: My fiance, Bruce, and his son Leif are here in Grass Valley. My wonderful daughter, Dominga and her fiance, Nick, are in Davis.

My hobbies: I’m a gardener who also walks in the woods and reads voraciously.

When I was a kid, I … came from one of those families with so many “risk factors,” folks had to wonder about my future. That’s how I learned that all kids have a chance and all kids are worth our time and investment.

If money were no object, I would: ensure everyone had health care, happy parents, quality childcare, books, music, love and spiritual experiences.

My dream vacation: Travel slowly to hear people’s voices and music, and see the beauty.

If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: some audacious female.

The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: My daughter, my mother and, now, my fiance. Families matter. I must also give thanks to some great government leaders who gave me incredible opportunities.

My hero: I have many heroes … from the Dalai Lama to William O. Douglas, but find myself unwilling to add anyone new to the list these days.

The best book I’ve read lately was (and tell us why)…”Crashing the Party” by Ralph Nader, because it helped me see current events in context.

The soundtrack to my life would include these songs: Anything by Smokey Robinson.

I like living in Nevada County because … as I once wrote an urban colleague who tended to look down on rural counties… “…Don’t think we’re bumpkins out here. After all … it can’t be too stupid of me to have found compelling work in a lifestyle that offers me the grandeur of nature out my front door and an absence of traffic congestion, malls and crime.”

“For the public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.

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