What’s your name, title and how long have you been working in your current role here?
My name is Roma Kebede, I am the HR Generalist at CASS. I have been in this role since January 2020.
What other roles have you had in the agency if any?
Previous to my current position I was an HR Admin and began with the agency on August 1, 2018.
What do you want the community to know about the people we serve?
They’re my inspiration and one of the many reasons I work at CASS.
What is your favourite part about working at Calgary Alternative Support Services?
The clients, staff, and flexibility is the best part. I am a single mom of one incredible human being, I am definitely biased, but I honestly feel it can’t get any better. CASS gives me the flexibility to ensure I am there for anything and everything to do with my son.
My favourite part before Covid, that is, was seeing all the clients in the mornings and afternoons. I met a client my first week at CASS who was terrific. They always had a joke to share. I loved hearing their stories and the excitement in their voice when they would explain where they had just come from or what they were going to do that day. Humour was how they communicated, and they had the most infectious laugh. I would hear it at my desk upstairs and smile; this was why I stay at CASS, the individuals we serve across all programs, and the fantastic staff.
How do you help improve disability inclusion in our community?
I think through cognizance, consideration, and goodwill. CASS advocates for clients and everyone. You don’t have to understand, and you don’t have to empathize, but showing kindness is the difference for some of us between a good day and a bad one. There’s no limit to what we can do for our community with compassion and understanding; this influences positive change and encourages togetherness.
How does your cultural background and/or lived experience contribute to your work here?
In 1979, my parents fled Ethiopia to Sudan due to the war. There were many wars in Ethiopia at the time and no different today, but the last one with Somalia took out most of the military, and from my conversations with those who lived through it, it wasn’t an option to be in the army but a requirement. If you were male and of age, you were going to war. My dad, at the time, had lost his older brother to the war and wasn’t ‘bout that life. In 1990, we were sponsored to Canada by a church in Coaldale just outside Lethbridge. Over the years, I have watched my parents suffer emotionally, mentally, and physically but remain humble and grateful. My family and lived experiences drive me to be the best mother, daughter, sister, and HR professional I can be. Although I have made my fair share of mistakes, I never give up because you never know how much worse it could be.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from the people we serve?
Working in HR, I don’t get the chance to work directly with the individuals we serve. I work with some really great frontline staff through orientations, coordinators, and directors. They inspire me, allow me to vent my frustrations, support me to solve problems, and always with shared humour.
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
Muay Thai with my son twice a week, where I get to sit and drink coffee and cheer him on. I am currently doing a 21-day data challenge with a friend. I think it will help me learn a little about Python and SQL. I have failed the last three challenges, can’t wait to see the next 18 challenges.