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The Valley Vision Way

By Sonia Dueñas

As I bid farewell, I finally understand the meaning of “the Valley Vision way.”

During my early days with Valley Vision, I heard the team refer to a number of matters as “the Valley Vision way.” For a few months I found myself trying to navigate the meaning of that phrase. I would analyze the context of when and how it was used as I was ultimately trying to box it into a compact, traditional definition. I would ask myself: “What is the Valley Vision way?”

It didn’t take long to realize that therein laid my dilemma: I was attempting to apply a single definition to an organization that is anything but compact or traditional. Valley Vision is dynamic, ever-changing and evolving, abstract and complex, in the work it conducts for the region.

That being said, and in accordance with the unpredictable nature of the work on any given day, one might find a VV’er closing the region’s digital divide by producing research, and coordinating partnerships that directly influence policy to improve equity through broadband access for all.

Or, another VV’er who is diligently involved in improving health outcomes from the impacts of climate change and emission reductions.

Simultaneously, a team of VV’ers might be launching a statewide campaign to boost emergency preparedness for California’s most vulnerable populations when disaster hits. 

All of this could be happening, while in the background a ping-pong match with an undefeated champion goes down. On the best days one of our furry friends is in the office. However, it isn’t long until the work resumes. Research continues. Policy work advances. Convenings move forward.

Ultimately, the Valley Vision team became my friends, and in some ways a remote extension of a family that I hoped for upon returning to the region two years ago. To say I’ve had a good time would be an understatement, because it was the people that made the difference every day.

I always found comfort, and humor in the company of my podmates. Yzabelle’s compassion for the people, pets, and plants around her was a calming strength I drew from daily. Houa’s mutual appreciation for shows like The Office ensured my jokes didn’t fall on deaf ears – but when they did, we could always rely on a laugh from our King of dad jokes, Adrian, or our Queen of puns, Isa. On countless occasions, I left many conversations humbled by pearls of wisdom, advice, and more contextual knowledge than I bargained for. If wisdom really was made of pearls, Trish would dominate the Oyster industry! The point is, I am so appreciative of my experience with Valley Vision over the past year and a half. I have acquired a wealth of knowledge, laughs, and memories from each team member; a team I am grateful to call friends. 

It isn’t so much the adaptability and ability to pivot that defines “the Valley Vision way,” but rather it is the people – the team.

They are “the Valley Vision way,” and I am proud to have been part of the family.

Sonia Dueñas was a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting the 21st Century Workforce and Healthy Communities impact areas.