Promotional Spotlight: Thea von Zabern

December 2, 2022

Thea von Zabern- MIP Program Coordinator

In this month’s promotional spotlight employee, allow us to introduce Thea von Zabern, Mentor Internship Program Coordinator, working at our North Hills location.

Thea started at Penny Lane in May of 2022 as a Mentor Coordinator, but in the seven short months since she has started, she has proven to be a strong leader, and was promoted to MIP Program Coordinator in September 2022 with one Mentor Coordinator direct report.

Congratulations on your accomplishments!

What was your journey prior to coming to Penny Lane?

I spent several years working in film production before reorienting my focus to social services. I’ve since worked in alternative to incarceration programs, recreational public programing, and most recently within the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which advocates for the rights of nursing home residents.

What brought you to Penny Lane Centers?

Well, PLC and I began our relationship like most other 21st century relationships begin: Online. I saw PLC’s profile, liked it. They saw my profile, liked it. And the rest is stardust. But in all seriousness, I was fortunate enough to be offered a temp position as an office manager after being laid off from my last job. During which time I was afforded the opportunity to find a job I wanted and not just one that I needed.

What is your favorite aspect of working at PLC?

When job searching, my chief priority is always finding an employer whose mission and values align with my own. This time around I added something more difficult to find, a company or organization with a positive “company culture” that felt supportive of their employees. While the experience of working within social services is personally enriching, for a myriad of reasons it is also very challenging. I’ve always felt that it’s not the actual client work that burns people out, it’s the culture of the environment and the support you do or do not receive from your employer. I am thankful every day that I was chosen to work for an organization that does not make me feel replaceable and makes actionable efforts to support my career goals.

What was the path to promotion like for you?

A whirlwind!

How did the PLC team help along the way??

There’s no way I would be here without Theresa Culver. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Theresa not just because of her breadth of experience and kindness, but because of fierce advocacy of the individuals with whom she works. I have certainly benefitted from her advocacy through my promotion and orienting me toward opportunities to collaborate with other departments by being part of the conference planning committee.

What were some benefits that PLC offers that you took advantage of to further your education / career with PLC?

Well, my tenure with Penny Lane has only just begun, so I have not engaged in any of PLC’s education and career fostering benefits…YET. I look forward to going back to school and appreciate PLC’s willingness and ability to support their employees during such an undertaking. That said, I would love to take advantage of a sign-on bonus though. Can I still get one of those? 😉

What is your job and what makes you good at it?

My job is coordinating our new intern program at Penny Lane!

Two of my past jobs were like my current position, in that they were also new programs or departments that maybe were in existence prior to my arrival, but on a much smaller scale. Since this is my 3rd, I’m thinking at this point it’s probably one of my strengths. I love inventing within restrictions. Give me unlimited license and I probably will stare at you like a deer in the headlights but give me license within restrictions! And hey! That’s a twinkle in my eye.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’ve been featured in several publications, including The New York Times and one television show because of a small broomball league I started while living in New York. Yes, I think it’s ridiculous too.

What event in your life shaped you significantly?

In my mid-twenties I had a medical emergency during which I lost so much blood; my heart stopped beating for a minute while I was on the operating table. I had no idea it happened until one of the doctors told me the following day. Everyone has different beliefs on what happens after death, but what I know is that even if my consciousness ceases to exist, the impact of the life I lead, my relationships and their ripple effects will endure after my time is done on this earth. So, then what? Well, I chose social services.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

One piece of advice I think about all the time was from a friend who once said to me, “No one cares about you like you do.” It sounds negative and as though you can’t count on the people around you, but for me it’s a reminder that *I* live with myself every day and it’s up to me to advocate for myself. But now I have Theresa too!

What do you appreciate most about Penny Lane?

Along with some of my aforementioned appreciations, what I really appreciate about PLC is that they are willing to adapt when needed and they trust their employees. Many companies/organizations did not segue into remote or hybrid work during the eye of the COVID storm, and many who did are now asking everyone to return to the office full-time. Having the option to work in a hybrid model ultimately illustrates that PLC trusts that their employees will do the work that needs to be done. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Please share something you are grateful for.  

I’m grateful Penny Lane has given me the opportunity to be part of the family.

-Thea von Zabern, Penny Lane Centers