Stefanie Norred is an advocate: When she isn’t working to benefit Coloradans with developmental disabilities, she’s encouraging her younger sister. For the past seven years, the 29-year-old local native has worked for The Resource Exchange, now as a quality enhancement specialist. Norred said growing up in a multi-racial family primed her for the position, in which she teaches tolerance and understanding of all disabilities. She spoke this week about returning home from college, going to work for the nonprofit and building the career she loves.
Can you tell me a bit about your professional background?
My first job out of college was with Colorado Springs School District 11, in a program for preschoolers with autism. It was a very major experience for me — I was fresh out of college and I had never really been exposed to developmental disabilities. … I had learned about TRE because they worked with some kids that I worked with on a daily basis. … I had learned about the field, and I wanted to do something a little bit different than what I was doing with the school, so I applied there and my first job at TRE was to be a support coordinator. … Then an opening came on the quality enhancement team, which does a lot of monitoring, quality assurance and behind-the-scenes stuff. So I applied for that position, because it sounded interesting, and I’ve been there doing that job ever since.
How do your values align with those of TRE?
There are a couple of things that stick out in my mind. We talk about accountability, we talk about respect and we talk about partnership: Those are things that I think are always very important in a professional setting. Integrity is also very important to me in my job. … Another thing is always trying to do better and to be better, and that definitely aligns with the way that I’ve always been. It is nice to be with a company that encourages that, while also encouraging creativity and innovation within the bounds that we have, which can be strict. … Our core value is to provide the best service to people and to try to encourage independence for people with developmental disabilities — that is very important to me and is something that I really connect with.
Can you summarize TRE’s work and your role?
In Colorado, the system structure for providing services to people with developmental disabilities is such that companies across the state cover regions. TRE covers El Paso, Park and Teller counties. We are called a Community Centered Board. … We sort of are the middle man. We do the planning and monitoring of government-funded services and then help bill for that. What I do is interesting because I supervise the quality enhancement team, which is sort of a checks-and-balances system within the nonprofit. We do a lot of training for our staff and for the staffs of those providers and partner agencies, and for the families. We identify when there is a need that should be addressed and we go into training and teach people how to address it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of time at the gym (probably five or six times a week). If I’m not at the gym or at work, I’m home. I’ve been enjoying being active more and more. … When it warms up, I like the Manitou Incline and I like to get out there in the sun. That’s one of the reasons I love this place so much — there is so much opportunity right outside your door.
What do you see in your future at TRE?
My team, and the company in general, is committed to seeing what more we can do. We really focus on how we can strengthen the partnerships that we have and create new ones where we can. … In the end, that results in better services for the community and better awareness — that’s a win across the board. … I also see using my expertise and my role to help spread the influence of TRE and awareness of developmental disabilities.