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Robyn Krock Bids Fur-Well to Valley Vision

A little over twelve years ago, I was in graduate school at UC Davis and saw a listing in the internship coordinator’s office for a part-time Research Associate someplace in Sacramento called Valley Vision. I sent my resume and got called for an interview.

I showed up at 1900 S Street and the adventure began. Kristine Mazzei quickly had me immersed in developing the region’s first Open Space inventory, which led directly into our engagement with SACOG’s brand-new RUCS project.* Sharon Huntsman and I spent hours driving up and down Highway 99 facilitating meetings of the Hmong Health Collaborative, and singing “Brandy” at the top of our lungs at least once every trip. Chris AguirreJon Jiesel, and Garrett Brandenburger showed me how to properly test potential job candidates – by gauging their reaction to seeing someone sitting on the office exercise ball and bouncing past the glass walls of the conference room where the interview was taking place. And Susan Frazier showed me that leadership doesn’t have to be boring or harsh. I discovered quickly the close tie between hard work and having fun.

That was the first year.

Tuesday, March 5th was my last day at Valley Vision. I can’t quantify how much I’ve learned and grown, nor can I put into words how much I will miss the people with whom I work. From Trish Kelly, who has been – and will continue to be – a friend and mentor, to… well, there are way too many people to name. No matter who the staff is in any given year, no matter who has arrived or departed, the people have always been amazing. They are fun, warm, creative, hardworking, and have always put up with a ton of crap from me.

The one constant for all of my years at Valley Vision is Bill Mueller. Bill is the only person who has been at Valley Vision longer than me. I have learned so much from working with him – intentionally and unintentionally. He’s made me mad and made me laugh, sometimes at the same time. We’ve seen each other go through many ups and downs, both professionally and personally. Bill is like a brother – we push each other’s buttons, butt heads, and love each other anyway. Calling Bill a few weekends ago to give him the news was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve made.

And I’m a little worried about who will keep him in line once I’m gone.

Valley Vision also has some of the best community partners, especially in the food space. Christine Tien at The California Endowment, who has shown me how I want to treat grantees, Diana Flores at Sacramento City Unified School District’s Nutrition Services Department, who has embraced the monumental task of running the world’s largest restaurant on a small budget and with 48,000 of the most critical clientele, Amber StottShawn Harrison – too many people in the food space for me to mention.

My coworkers have made it clear they will miss me as much as I will miss them. I know it will be different without me, but I also know that the departure of someone who’s been there as long as me opens the door for change that will probably end up being even better. I expect in a few months they’ll all be grateful I left.

As hard as it is to leave, I am excited about my new opportunity/challenge. I will be going to work at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy as the Community Projects Supervisor. This is a new position, prompted by passage of Prop. 68 last year. I will be developing and running their community economic development programs. I am excited about the opportunity to take everything I’ve learned in my years at Valley Vision to the public sector, to being a grantor rather than a grantee, and to helping the state from a different perspective.

Shortly after I start there, I will be off on another adventure that in a way is a culmination of my years at Valley Vision. I will be going to New Zealand to talk about regional solutions for supporting local food systems and rural broadband. This is part of a State Department exchange program, and I am honored to be invited to participate. Since my new job won’t be dealing with the same issues, I figure my expertise will be out of date within a year or so, so this is the time for me to go share it. I will also be learning a lot, and will share my learnings with my coworkers at Valley Vision, who will be continuing to push forward in helping the Sacramento region address those challenges and more.

I’ve been told that my departure is the end of an era for Valley Vision. It is the end of an era for me too. Valley Vision has helped me grow both personally and professionally immeasurably. Valley Vision is where I learned about and learned to love the Sacramento region. Valley Vision is where I went from a graduate student renting an apartment to a homeowner with a backyard for my dogs. Valley Vision is where Adonis came and went (my dog and Valley Vision’s office dog).

It has been an honor to be a part of something as great as Valley Vision. Although I’ve been told that, like the mafia, you can never really leave.

Robyn Krock has been a Valley Vision employee for over 12 years, leading numerous impactful food, agriculture, and broadband initiatives. She starts as Community Projects Supervisor for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy on March 6th. She can be reached at