In our Staff Spotlight Series, we catch up with the talented, dedicated, and compassionate individuals who help make everything our organization does possible. This month we’re featuring Kelly Tronstad, Family Support Coach based out of our St. Paul office.
Kelly’s warm, outgoing, and friendly personality is the perfect fit for her role as Family Support Coach, where she engages with and helps build community among members of the adoptive and foster care community throughout Minnesota. Outside of work, Kelly loves spending time with her family at the lake, going to her daughter’s volleyball games, knitting, playing bingo, and going out to dinner. Read more nabout Kelly’s life and work below.
What is your current role with CH/LSS and what are some of your primary responsibilities?
Family Support Coach – I provide support and education to pre and post adoptive families to help them navigate parenting challenges and continue to grow and learn in their parenting roles. I also facilitate our monthly Greater MN Parent Support Group and Connect2Connect events for foster and adoptive families.
Parenting holds up a mirror to the parts of ourselves that we tend to keep hidden. Parenting will have you feeling and behaving in ways that you didn’t know or forgot existed. In order to be present, loving, and supportive for our kids we have to do the same for ourselves.
What originally drew you to the field of foster care and adoption?
I had a friend that worked in foster and adoptive care many years ago and when she talked about her job, it really lit a fire in me at that time. When I went back to school to get my Masters and licensure in Family Education, foster and adoptive care seemed like a natural fit for the learning I had done. I am always looking for more areas to bring parent education to the forefront. I think it is such important work!
What advice would you give to families thinking of beginning their adoption journey?
Do the work on yourself first. This is advice I would give to anyone thinking of becoming a parent for the first time, in any capacity. Parenting holds up a mirror to the parts of ourselves that we tend to keep hidden. Parenting will have you feeling and behaving in ways that you didn’t know or forgot existed. In order to be present, loving, and supportive for our kids we have to do the same for ourselves.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing parents find success trying out new strategies and being proud of themselves for their learning. Also, noticing the difference in how parents say they feel about themselves and their kids when they employ different strategies.
Tell us about Connect2Connect community events that you organize – what is the goal behind the events and what are some of the fun activities kids and families have participated in?
The purpose of Connect2Connect events is to bring together foster and adoptive families, from greater Minnesota in particular, to have them build community and make connections with one another. It always feels better when you know you are not the only one on your journey, both as a child and a parent. This year we have been to the planetarium at Saint Cloud State University, painted wall hangings in Alexandria, participated in a ropes course and adventure challenges in Park Rapids, and Wild Mountain water park in Taylors Falls.
I find inspiration in certain qualities that people possess. I really admire people who are passionate about what they do, who find creative ways to implement ideas, those who are always learning and growing, and those who work hard and are focused, but can have a lot of fun too.
Who inspires you – personally or professionally? What qualities does that person have that you find inspiring?
I don’t have one person in particular that inspires me. I find inspiration in certain qualities that people possess. I really admire people who are passionate about what they do, who find creative ways to implement ideas, those who are always learning and growing, and those who work hard and are focused, but can have a lot of fun too. Above all, I appreciate authenticity and vulnerability in people. You don’t have to have it all together all the time😊
Switching gears to life outside of work – what does an ideal weekend look like for you?
If it is the summer: going to our cabin in Crosslake with friends and family. In the colder months, it is watching my girls play volleyball, knitting, playing bingo, and going out to dinner!
Do you have any special summer plans that you are looking forward to?
My oldest is leaving for her first year of college at DePaul in Chicago so we are taking a family trip there to move her in and see the city. I don’t know if I am looking forward to it because I will miss her desperately, but she is so excited!
What is the last book, movie, or TV series that you enjoyed so much you’re telling everyone you know to check it out?
I watch total garbage TV, so no one should take my recommendation, but my favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I have read it about 25 times, and it is the book that gives me comfort when life is feeling particularly heavy.
Do you have a favorite saying or quote that makes you laugh, gives you peace, or provides you with wisdom?
“Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”
What’s something that always brings a smile to your face?
Gah! My three cats and my dog. I am obsessed!!