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Coast to Coast: Chloe Heads to Graduate School

By Adrian Rehn

It’s a stale joke now, but I’ll be honest – the first time I heard Bill mention Valley Vision when I was in high school, I thought he provided eye care services. When I was corrected and told it was a nonprofit, I still thought it was a nonprofit eye care organization. Who knew that I’d later be inducted into the Valley Vision family and actually become proficient at explaining what Valley Vision is about (to the various people who call the office asking to speak to an optometrist, no less).  

But alas, all good things must come to an end. I’ll be leaving Sacramento soon to receive my Masters in Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School to continue my education in International Relations for Humanitarian Aid and Human Security. As excited as I am to be starting this new chapter of my life in Boston, it’s a bittersweet goodbye. Every experience I’ve had at Valley Vision has reinforced the fact that there are so many people around us not only to help, but also who are dedicated to helping others.

I got to sit down with dedicated Old Sacramento Waterfront stakeholders who spent hours around a table brainstorming how to improve the district and support local businesses. I helped organize a conference for 200 people who were passionate about leveraging funds for Opportunity Zones. I attended a national summit, representing the Sacramento region and the EPIC Trail to learn about equitable development practices to improve residents’ quality of life across the country. I engaged with statewide economic development leaders to create a regions-up inclusive economic strategy with Lenny Mendonca, Director of GO-Biz. Just recently, I even got to contribute to the early stages of a new California For All campaign to improve disaster preparedness across the state with the Governor’s Office and California Volunteers. 

But how is a tiny team from Sacramento trying to enact systemic change and make a dent in these big problems? 

Well, some days it can feel like it’s a lot of talk. You go from meeting to meeting and wonder if you’ve actually helped anyone. On top of that, you might not have the perfect solution, you definitely can’t do it alone, and big ideas just take a lot of time and money that you don’t always have. Even in the best case scenario, you may not see change come about until decades later and people will have long forgotten about your contributions. But it doesn’t matter. We aren’t motivated by shiny awards and we aren’t easily discouraged. Our mission is to improve people’s quality of life and I can guarantee that we all have this dogged determination to make it happen. That’s what Valley Vision is about.

This vibrant region is filled with people who are devoted to growing the food we eat, improving the quality of air we breathe, insuring the success of local businesses, and providing care and services to those in need. There are so many compassionate individuals here that made me realize that this is truly work worth doing and I will forever be grateful to them for instilling in me this community-based mindset that I will take abroad. No matter where I go, the love I have for this region and this city will come with me.

Chloe Pan was Executive Assistant to Valley Vision CEO Bill Mueller and Project Lead for the EPIC Trail.