EA Spotlight: Jane Strohmaier
Fellow EA employees,
It is with great excitement that I enter into my next phase of life, retirement. As I leave EA, there are many fond memories of the time spent here and the people who are more like family than...family! It was many years ago that I shook hands with Roddy and then with Tim to accept the position of Office Manager of the Susanville office. My origins were from Silicon Valley where I worked as a direct sales representative for Pacific Telesis. My accounts were PG&E, 3Com, Electronic Arts, Seagate and others. I was also Project Manager for Hewlett Packard. Nothing prepared me for working at EA! My first day of work at Susanville found me alone in the office thinking, "I could drive a moving van up to the door and empty the place," they hardly knew me! Trust and a handshake meant something back in 1989. I began reading through the files. I knew nothing about child abuse, it was a revelation.
Since those days much has happened. I learned about child abuse and my passion for our kids. After a year of being the Office Manager at Susanville, I got the project of opening new offices, hiring Office Managers and setting up our computers. It was an exciting time of rampant growth and change. We experienced 200% growth in my third year at EA. During this time we were creating forms, and procedures. We started buying fleet cars (tin cans on wheels, no air conditioning) and office buildings. By the time the State adjusted the rate to match cost of living, EA had grown to about 6 offices and 4 group homes. Around that time, I was tasked with getting health insurance for all EA employees. Didn't know a thing about it but EA is good about letting us learn as we go. Plus no one wanted that task. I was glad to say I got us insurance we could afford and everyone was eligible including employees with cancer. The opportunities at EA were sometimes boundless! I was given an opportunity to learn to fly as our offices were great distances apart. There were four of us that flew regularly from Quincy.
About that time I moved to the Quincy office and joined the team there. Together we continued to watch EA grow in size and supported programs. The Group Homes were many and I found myself working as a tech within these Group Homes. Group Home computer centers or offices could be in a bedroom closet or storage pantry and my co-workers were often pot belly pigs and mini donkeys. Oh yeah, our Group Homes were in the countryside, and many rural areas, sometimes they were ranches. We had a successful horse program where gangstas traded their colors for cowboy hats and rodeo buckles! Even with our rural base, EA has always embraced computing technology. We had computers when I started. Our first computer was the Osborne. A luggage size dual floppy computer with a 3.5 inch green led screen.
It didn't take long before I was tasked with building local area networks, (now called LANS) and helping Roddy with our new Kid tracking program. It was designed by Roddy to pay foster parents and maintain Child, Parent and Employee files. Sound familiar? I spent the last week of every month for about 4 years collecting data from 16 group home and office sites via modem to produce foster parent payment calculations. This became the precursor to our present day KidNet. KidNet in its very inception was a first. We were told by our consultant that it was quite an ambitious project at that time, as there were no online databases in existence. Roddy and I spent the next gazillion years of our lives online, late at night developing this software with an off shore group in India. After that, we spent many hours putting together a strong case and successfully sued them for non delivery of a viable product. I gave a presentation, in a room without windows, to our former programmers and lawyers (all males), demonstrating for four solid hours, the many flaws in the software. We won in mediation an amount that allowed us to recover from the loss and pursue a final working product. Today we are working with the second version of KidNet, which I am happy to say is a fine product.
Where will EA go next? I hope that we continue into the future to provide ease and services to those suffering and in need. I've watched our company expand from the rural base to large cities while preserving our authenticity and intelligent creative approach to Human services. It is with a quiet satisfaction that I leave EA and much fondness.