Fulfilling Her Passion: Helping Families Live Healthier Lives

Monday, January 26, 2015 by Julianna Arnett

Kim McDougal is a third generation Alaska native and admits that when her family first moved to San Diego when she was 15 years old, it "was a hard adjustment." As a child, Kim enjoyed exploring the outdoors, camping, and fishing on the weekends, so when her family relocated to Encinitas for her father's work, the change of scenery and cultural norms were quite a shock.

Kim attended college at UC Davis and studied International Relations and Spanish. It was her work with the Boston Health Department Lead Poisoning Prevention program that really sparked her interest in children's health. Kim decided to move back to California to earn a Masters of Public Health and a Masters of Child and Family Development at San Diego State University. One of her fondest memories while attending school was an assignment working with a small community that made leaded ceramics in Oaxaca, Mexico. The project aimed to understand the Oaxaca community's perception of lead and then determine an appropriate intervention. The class determined a nutrition intervention would be most fitting and modified local recipes as a means to minimize the impacts of lead exposure through healthy nutrition. The students then held a huge celebration and shared the food and recipes with the community members.

Upon completing her coursework, Kim's commitment to children's health led her to the YMCA Childcare Resource Service, where she now serves as executive manager. Kim is a co-chair of the COI's Early Childhood Domain. She is extremely passionate about her work and loves "visiting preschools, seeing the kids, and working with families and childcare providers who are doing the hardest work out there."

Kim was quick to mention that her favorite part of the job is "working with passionate, talented, and fun people within the YMCA as well as with community partners on collaborative grants and committees." On second thought, she admitted, her "favorite part of the job is the actual work that we do supporting children, low income families, and the community. That's really at the core, and then secondary is the amazing people that I work with."

During her free-time Kim enjoys cooking, camping, hiking (with her dog), and running (she has completed four half marathons). Kim feels a deep connection to the Mexican culture and has been volunteering for nine years as a "Big" through Big Brother Big Sisters with her "Little," who is from Oaxaca, Mexico. In retrospect, Kim admits that although the move to California was an adjustment, it has led her to many great opportunities, experiences, and to her passion: helping children and families lead healthier lives!

 

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