At times in our careers, we encounter genuinely amazing people. People who are admirable and inspiring, who shape the trajectories of those around them. Sarah Featherly, the Director of Transitional Jobs for Career Path Services, is one of these people.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education, Sarah started a new position on July 11, 2005, as a youth Employment Representative, thinking it would be a good “gig” until she landed a school district job. After only a few months of working for the organization, she stopped looking for other positions and knew she wanted to stay at Career Path Services. Sarah said, “my first year was one of the best I can remember! While all my original youth services’ teammates have moved on, they were my first ever ‘work family’ – and I’ll never forget that year or them!”
After that first year, Sarah bounced around in different positions within the organization – budgets constantly change and she was open to going where she was needed the most. Sarah transitioned into a teaching role with our Education Center, where she helped youth and adults prepare for their GED or complete credits to earn their high school diploma. In her second year with the organization, Career Path Services closed its Education Center due to more budget changes, and Sarah moved to the Community, Trade, and Economic Development (CTED) team, now known as the Department of Commerce as an Employment Practitioner. It was in this role that she decided to go back to school and earn her Master’s degree in Social Work at Eastern Washington University. Even though Sarah was in school and working full time, she applied for a few promotional positions within the organization and received a couple of “no’s” before finally getting a yes. In 2009, she became the new Spokane Program Manager for the Commerce Workfirst program. A year later, the CEO at the time George Iranon, wanted to grow and standardize our Community Jobs program; he created the position, Director of Transitional Jobs. “George placed his complete confidence in me to bring that vision of his to life…and I’ve been doing it ever since!” said Featherly.
With any job comes challenges, and for Sarah, this is no exception. Some of her biggest challenges include statewide budget reductions. Each year you have to wait and see how your budget for the upcoming year will be and how it could potentially affect how you deliver services. “I remember when I first started, there was this prominent saying around the office…we all had ‘1-year jobs’ because next year’s budget is never guaranteed. I was impacted by this several times over my 16 years, from being transferred to other positions or other teams within the agency to enduring salary freezes or reducing the number of people we could serve in the year; it’s never easy making these kinds of adjustments. The pandemic year took these seemingly ‘normal’ annual adjustments to the next level; however, 2020 (or PY20) was, as I’m sure it was for nearly everyone else, the most challenging year of my entire professional career,” said Featherly.
With the challenges also come the victories, and for Sarah, her most memorable accomplishments were piloting smaller projects. These do not often get as much attention as some of the larger, longer-standing programs, but they make great learning opportunities. Sarah worked on pilots such as LEAP, WYFF, RISE, PSC; these required new innovations and thinking outside the box, skills that are definitely in Sarah’s wheelhouse.
Now, Sarah has decided it is time to move on to a new adventure. She has accepted a position in academia with Eastern Washington University as the new Director of Field Education for the School of Social Work. Sarah will be responsible for the practicum placement of Social Work students. She will be responsible for agency agreements and ensuring students meet their core learning hours and requirements for graduation, a position she feels her role as Director of Transitional Jobs with Career Path Services has been preparing her for.
With her, Sarah plans to take the life-long memories and connections. Sarah said, “I’ve had an extraordinary time with Career Path Services and will carry the lessons I’ve learned with me for a lifetime. I love you all and will miss all of our shared “F” words (food, fun, fellowship). Thank you, Career Path Services, for helping me to become the person I am today!”
For the Career Path Services employees, she advises, “Stay true to the mission, and the performance will follow.”
Outside of the office, Sarah lives on a mountain with her partner, Dan, and almost eight-year-old son Sambob. They have two dogs; Bridger, a Newfoundland Pyrenees mix, and Lucy, a Jack Russell Chihuahua mix that she affectionately nicknamed Pig. In the winter, she enjoys skiing, and in the summer, she enjoys floating. Sarah also likes to garden, hike, and go bike riding with her son. “I also love to eat and try new micro-brews – so trying a new restaurant or going to a new brewery is high up on my list of favorite things.” said Featherly.
Managers Nate Mazucca and Kelli Eller are two of Sarah’s direct reports, and both agree that Sarah will be missed.
“Sarah is crazy loyal. She has always fought for me and the others who have reported to her and has shown that she is willing to take on the task of advocating for her people. She consistently steps forward to own responsibility and has been an amazing advocate for the possibilities of what the Transitional Jobs Division could be,” said Mazucca. Eller adds, “Sarah is a bright, confident, female leader. When I first started in this position, I wasn’t 100% confident that I was the right fit, but Sarah never once gave me any reason not to believe that I could do this job and do it well. Her belief in my abilities helped me push through any doubt and focus on becoming the type of leader I wanted to be.”
CEO Cami Eakins added, “Sarah, I wish you all the best in your new adventure. We will miss you and are forever grateful for having the opportunity to work alongside you. I am a better person, and Career Path Services is a better place because of your presence.”
Sarah, we appreciate you for all of your years of service to Career Path Services; your contributions to this organization have been immense and tremendous. The time, energy, and knowledge you have invested in our team do not go unnoticed. As you prepare to begin anew, we wish you all the best on your new journey.