Stephanie Gioia-Beckman


 

Most COI partners know Stephanie Gioia-Beckman as Supervisor Ron Roberts' Senior Policy Advisor and a longtime supporter of the COI, but you may be surprised to learn that Stephanie never really had her sights on politics or government work. Child welfare had always been her passion, so Stephanie attended UC Santa Barbara, where she received a bachelor's degree in psychology, and planned to one day become a psychiatrist.

For four years, she worked as a counselor then supervisor at a residential treatment center for severely emotionally distrurbed foster youth. "I wanted to become a psychiatrist, but after learning about the child welfare system that abused children face, I realized one-on-one therapy wouldn't make enough impact; we need larger scale change," Stephanie remembers. She applied to graduate school at San Diego State University's School of Social Work and while waiting to hear back, she came across an employment opportunity working with former state Senator Dede Alpert, a known juvenile justice, child welfare, and health advocate.

"Senator Alpert was very well respected and the first female senator to chair the appropriations committee," recalls Stephanie. Despite Stephanie's lack of government experience, her commitment to child welfare aligned with Senator Alpert's and she was hired as a community representative. Over nearly five years, she gained experience serving on committees and working with the community on legislation.

Stephanie recalls the time when a young resident contacted Senator Alpert's office to discuss the challenges CalWORKS recipients face to save money for a college education: "If a CalWORKS recipient saved money for post-secondary education, their savings would disqualify them from obtaining benefits." While working with Stephanie to draft legislation to address this issue, the youth was tragically killed in a car accident. To continue the legacy of the young community advocate, Stephanie worked diligently with the family members to pass legislation that would prevent educational saving accounts from impacting CalWORKS income eligibility. This experience reaffirmed Stephanie's commitment to public service and the impact policies have on individuals.

In 2004, with Senator Alpert's term limit approaching, Stephanie was hired by County Supervisor Ron Roberts because of their mutual commitments to children and health. Over the past 11 years, Stephanie has worked for Supervisor Roberts and says the favorite part of her job is, "sitting at the table with community and other parts of government to solve big, societal issues collaboratively." Connecting with community members is integral because "feedback helps frame the issues for decision makers."

Stephanie's involvement in childhood obesity prevention actually preceded the development of the Call to Action: San Diego County Childhood Obesity Action Plan (Action Plan) and creation of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative. In 2004, she served on the steering committee that developed the first Action Plan. Stephanie has been involved with the COI since its inception and continues to serve on the Leadership Council and as a co-chair of the Government Domain. When asked what keeps her engaged in the COI she responded, "it's a great resource to learn about community health issues, organize, and implement community change."

While reflecting on her career, Stephanie admits, "I've always been sad that I haven't pursued my master's degree, but the experience from my career would not have been captured in any degree program." In her free time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family and said one of her proudest accomplishments is being a mom to her two sons. "It's the most important job, creating an individual and raising him to be a productive contributor to society."

 

 


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