As Circles USA continues to expand, the national office is grateful to add more infrastructure and reach to our system of chapter support. To that end, regional coaches are beginning to support the West, the Midwest, the South, and the Mid-Atlantic Region. Working across geographic, economic, and political boundaries, each regional coach hosts monthly regional community of practice calls for mutual support and collaboration, coaches their regional chapters on a regular basis, and advises new chapters in their early design phase before launch. They also support regional collaborations to expand local Big View efforts so as to have a greater impact on systemic change and inform the national office of regional trends and needs.
This four-part blog series introduces you to Circles USA’s Regional Coaches: who they are, where they come from, and how their leadership helps realize CUSA’s vision of communities in which everyone has enough money, meaning, and friends to thrive.
OUR NAMES ARE…
Jeff Tuscano and Karen Todd. We co-facilitate Circles USA’s Western Regional Community of Practice including Utah, New Mexico and California. Jeff has been a coordinator since July 2020; Karen was coordinator since May 2019 and shifted into the coach position in July 2020.
OUR IMPORTANT LIFE EXPERIENCES, JOURNEYS, CHALLENGES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS INCLUDE…
Jeff: I was raised in a western Pennsylvania melting pot; so I easily acquired an early love for, and appreciation of, many cultures and ideologies. I took the road of a musician that led to worldwide travel and further love for world cultures. In my travels, I learned time and time again that people are much more alike than different—I was a missionary for two years in Central America, which also contributed to this valuable realization. I’m married with four children who have all left the nest and started their families. My career includes years in international patent and trademark formalities; client relations as an investment advisor representative; and business management in travel and entertainment industries, until settling into assisting the underserved in our community.
I graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Spanish and International Relations and am currently certified as a Mental Health Case Manager in Utah. I work with Switchpoint Community Resource Center, the sponsor for Circles St. George.
Karen: I grew up and spent most of my life in western Nebraska. There I attended the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and my husband and I owned and operated an auto body repair shop for over 20 years. I worked as treasurer for Alliance Public Schools Foundation for several years and became a board member on the Carnegie Arts Foundation. I also coordinated a fundraiser for Golf-for-a-Cure that benefitted local breast cancer patients. I’ve got two grown children and one granddaughter.
At the age of 50, I went back to Chadron State College and received a Master’s in Community Counseling. I’ve worked in mentoring students with TeamMates and have enjoyed my time with Circles for the last three years. I also volunteer at Switchpoint’s food pantry twice a week.
SOMETHING SPECIAL YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OUR REGION IS…
St. George is near Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon. It never gets old to look at the beautiful red rock bluffs against the deep blue sky in our area. Demographically, our western region has a lot of diversity.
A MAJOR CHALLENGE WE FACE IN ALLEVIATING POVERTY IN OUR REGION IS…
There is a huge need for housing! Our area is exploding with growth, and developers are building million-dollar houses—not affordable housing for our underprivileged or even average-income citizens.
Bridging the gaps of misperceptions about poverty is a challenge, too, because we are a retirement community of wealthy people who don’t understand that the wages here aren’t sufficient to pay the high rents that landlords are charging.
RECENTLY, OUR REGION HAS ACCOMPLISHED…
Planning a symposium in Salt Lake City for legislators on the “Cliff Effect” in September. We’ve also started implementing Spanish speaking classes of Circle Leaders and one chapter has launched a “Circles Lite” group to support those who are teetering on the edge of poverty vs stability.
ONE THING WE WANT POTENTIAL CIRCLES PARTICIPANTS TO KNOW IS…
We are genuinely and fiercely devoted to the cause of alleviating poverty. We will provide opportunities that match the willingness of participants to reach their goals and rise above the challenges that hold them back from progressing.
We want potential Circle participants to know that we are a “family,” and we will be a resource and lend support to them throughout their journey!
Want to meet more amazing regional leaders? Read Parts One ,Two, and Three of our Meet Circles USA’s Regional Coaches series. To find a local chapter or learn how Circles USA can make a difference in your community, visit https://www.circlesusa.org.