In this month’s employee promotional spotlight, let me introduce to you Ingrid Ruiz. She is currently a CalWORKs Outpatient Therapist at our Antelope Valley Location.
Ingrid was hired by Penny Lane in August 2019 as a Therapeutic Behavioral Specialist (TBS) at our Antelope Valley location. With her drive and determination to continuously learn and improve, she transferred to Intensive Services TBS Coordinator in March 2022. Soon after, she began an internship with us in May 2022 as a part time Therapist intern, while finishing her education.
In December 2022, she earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Massachusetts Global, and in June 2023, was promoted to the role she currently holds, CalWORKs/Outpatient Therapist in Antelope Valley. Additionally, she has bachelor’s degrees in child development from California State University, Los Angeles, as well as an Associate Clinical Social Worker license in the state of California.
Let’s congratulate Ingrid on her success!
Prior to Penny Lane, I was a pre-school teacher for four years and I loved my job. I then came into ABA, and became interested in the field and went to work there for three years. I moved to the AV in 2019 when my husband and I became first time homeowners. I was looking to find a job here in the AV because after driving to L.A. for my job for two months I realized I did not want to do that long term. I loved working with children since that was all I knew, but it was difficult to find something here. I pursued other job leads, but it was not leading me anywhere. I now believe that is because I was meant to be here at Penny Lane.
I went to a job fair at Jethawks Stadium and ran into Sara Meyerowitz. She explained what Penny Lane does and the services provided. She said I was a perfect candidate for TBS and said she would give my resume to the supervisor of the program. I had never heard of this agency and was excited for something promising so I wouldn’t have to commute anymore, but I went home and researched it. I connected to the Mission Statement and values of PLC right away and was in awe of how much this agency provides to the community.
My favorite aspect of working here is the passion to help our clients. In recent years, I have seen this agency come together more and help clients through events. I have heard from clients and caregivers about how someone helped them make a change. I have felt the support from so many colleagues and there is a real sense of community.
My path to promotion has been a whirlwind of knowledge. I started as a TBS Specialist and then about three and a half years later, I started thinking about the coordinator position that was becoming available. I was unsure because this was more of a leadership position, which I did not think I could fulfill, but I had some nudges from my supervisor at the time, Jeffrey Schmidt, so I decided to go for it. I was there for a year while I went to school and finally completed my program to come to the clinic as a therapist. I knew right away I wanted to stay here after my program.
I got to meet the amazing person that was Jeff Schmidt. He always saw the best in people and encouraged me to go for it even though I did not think I could be a therapist. I had told him that I always had it in the back of my mind but did not think I could. He cheered me on when I started school and would have me put things into a clinical perspective without even realizing it. He also helped start the internship program. My second year in the role was worrisome because I was concerned about how I would make a clinical internship work, but thanks to him and everyone else involved I was successful. My supervisors for the internship were great resources as well (Rosa, Ms. Debbie, Shannon) as they helped me grow so much as a clinician.
Much of my success is due in part to an internship program started to help employees struggling to find placements. This helped in so many ways. I share this with many people because it was a huge help from the agency to help their employees obtain a higher education. The other benefits came after I knew what I wanted to do with my degree, and they are also great. I see the many new programs and incentives Penny Lane has implemented which are always about helping employees succeed. This says a lot of good things about our agency.
The most difficult part has been leaving TBS, honestly. I found myself professionally in that department and had support not only from Jeff and my colleagues but Fanta when she came on board. She was also a huge part of my support system. TBS will always have a special place in my heart. The second thing that has been hard has been the notes. I am used to writing behavioral notes and the shift has been a bit hard. I do have the support from Lauren and Jen Gorman, who are both amazing as well.
Being the daughter of immigrants helped shape me into the person I am today. Seeing both of my parents work hard to make their place in this country instilled the hard-working aspect of my values. My mom has always been the person who has taught me to be ethical and trustworthy because it is an important quality to have. I also learned to be resilient through challenging times as I saw them stay strong for my brother and I even through struggles.
The best piece of advice I have gotten in this field is to not work harder than the clients. This has been the best advice because we often take it personally if our clients are not progressing like we want them to. We need to remember that we must meet them or the caregivers where they are because we are only small parts of their life, and they move at the pace they are able to move at. I used to feel guilty for taking time off because I cared so much about how my clients would do if I weren’t there, but I learned I could still care and take time for myself to be there for them. This helped to prevent burnout so I could be an even better help to my clients.
I appreciate Penny Lane for creating ways to help me get to where I am now. I am also appreciative of the people I have met through Penny Lane that have become friends and part of my support system. This is especially important because I had just moved to the AV when I started back in August 2019, and I started building a little community of people.
I am grateful for my journey thus far. I have learned many things along the way, and I have grown so much as a person and a professional. The struggles and losses have highlighted what is important in life. I am grateful to my family for the support when I was back in school. I am extremely grateful for having met and obtained guidance from Jeff who taught me so much about myself, my strengths, and most importantly how to enjoy life outside of work. I am grateful for my peers and supervisors because I feel very supported, especially in this new role.