Stephanie Harris is the President of DOVIA-LA & Director, Special Programs at Union Station Homeless Services

Member Highlight first published in our April 2018 newsletter

Q: You’re the President of DOVIA-LA. What is that role like?

A: As the President of DOVIA-LA, it’s my responsibility to support our individual board members

Q: When were you introduced to DOVIA-LA and how?

A: Almost 5 years ago, while working at the Downtown Women’s Center, I was offered the opportunity to attend a DOVIA-LA meeting because we had a membership that we weren’t using. I immediately connected with the community and content of the group and never looked back!

Q: What motivated you to join the Board of Directors?

A: Joining the board was almost an impulse decision; I had never been on a board before, and it seemed like a great opportunity to build my skill set, enhance my resume, and try something new! Plus, it’s been so gratifying to help be a part of cultivating the DOVIA community.

Q: Where are you currently working and what do you want us to know about the organization?

A: I currently serve as the Director of Special Programs at Union Station Homeless Services. We are the largest provider of social services in the San Gabriel Valley, working to end homelessness and poverty for individuals and families. I oversee our volunteer & community programs department, our In-Kind department, and our Mentor Program.

Q: How did you get started managing volunteers?

A: Volunteer management is something that I fell into while working at the Hollywood Bowl Museum years ago. We utilized volunteer docents and museum attendants, and it was a crash-course in managing volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. After that, I coordinated volunteers for the Crescenta/Canada Home Tour during an internship with the Lanterman Foundation and the rest is history!

Q: What has been one of your proudest accomplishments in working with volunteers or community engagement?

A: One of my first projects upon joining Union Station was to plan and execute our annual Thanksgiving Dinner in the Park event, where we serve close to 3,000 meals and utilize 500 volunteers. I had never planned an event of this size, and was intimidated to say the least. However, the day went off without a hitch, and it was so gratifying to know I played a part in creating a special holiday experience for our neighbors in need.

Q: Do you have any tips for volunteer managers?

A: Communicate with compassion! Volunteers are there because they care, so try to keep that in mind when dealing with a high-maintenance volunteer. Connect constructive feedback to your mission so the volunteer knows that adjusting their behavior will be making a positive impact on the organization.

Q:  Do you have any hobbies that help you maintain work/life balance?

A: In my free time I love to write music and sing in my local gospel choir, Selah. I’ve also gotten into cooking!

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: DOVIA-LA has been such a blessing to me over the years. Not only have I learned so much from the programming, but I’ve gained lifelong friends and mentors as well! I cannot emphasize enough how much DOVIA has brought to my life, both professionally and personally.