Karen Tollenaar Demorest
What do you like about your job?
Most everything! I find the work we do is complicated and sometimes hard, but incredibly fun when things go well. The youth and young adults we work with are so often young beings of incredible potential, and we have the privilege of helping them tap into that potential. I’d like for every child to be supported to grow safely, develop and explore their interests and passions, and ultimately understand their own power and potential.
Where did you work before YJC?
The Alliance for Education in Seattle, a nonprofit that works in partnership with Seattle Public Schools to support students and raise academic success.
What was your first job?
At age 16, I worked at Taco Bell, doing everything from cooking refried beans to working the counter.
What did you learn from your first job?
I ended up spending more than a decade working in restaurants and hotels, and I consider it some of the best training for what I do every day. At the top of the list are customer service, conflict resolution, moving fast, being organized, and cleaning up after myself.
Has your career path gone how you expected?
Not at all! I wanted to be a famous singer, and somehow the path included restaurants, hotels, 7 years in the computer industry, higher education development, and nonprofit work. A wide variety of roles, and I have loved all of them, although not always in the moment.
I had to give up running but love to walk, and am starting to bike again. I still play piano, although not as often as I’d like. I’m crazy about my family and love spending time with my husband and my two girls, one who lives in Seattle with my wonderful son-in-law and grandson, and the other heading off to college in the fall of 2016.