Welcome to our new series, which features posts from staff members at the ATPE state office. This month's post features Chris Chodacki, membership program manager.
What drew you to working at ATPE?
Initially, nothing in particular. I had worked full time since I was 17 years old. My then-boyfriend and I were married soon after. Because we lived close to family, we raised our own family of four boys while continuing to work full time. While I loved taking care of my family, I was not a natural stay-at-home mom. When we moved to Texas, our youngest was just under a year old, and I stayed at home for the next three years. I went stir crazy! I was looking to get back into the workforce, but also for a challenge. I interviewed with ATPE and accepted the member services supervisor position. Once I started, it didn’t take me long to understand and believe in what ATPE stood for. I wanted to make a difference in the organization and for those we serve.
How long have you been working at ATPE? What was your first job here?
I began my career with ATPE in November of 2005 as member services supervisor.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned while working here?
In a perfect world, ATPE would be an unnecessary organization. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so we need ATPE to be the voice for those who care for and educate our children. When one of our members is in need of ATPE’s services, it can be a difficult and painful situation for them. It’s important for my team to treat our members with compassion and respect in their time of need.
What is your favorite part of working at ATPE?
ATPE has given me the opportunity to spend time mentoring Austin elementary students. Having a busy schedule makes it difficult to donate time to those in need, despite the desire to do so. ATPE not only encouraged me to get involved with the community, but gave me the time to do it. I’m grateful for that experience. It has even inspired me to continue donating my time to other worthy causes.
Share something fun about yourself that ATPE members might not know.
Within ATPE, I’m known for being apprehensive about public speaking. While I have done some public speaking on behalf of ATPE, it’s not something that I’m comfortable with. However, when I’m at the soccer field watching my youngest son work his magic, I turn into a sideline soccer coach mom, barking orders at the players. I am the loudest parent there, sometimes embarrassing my son and husband! They’ll get over it. I’m very competitive.