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Speaker Spotlight Q&A
with Sarah Truckle, Director of Program and Strategic Operations at the Agency of Human Services, State of Vermont

9 | By   Public Sector Network | January 11, 2022

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Sarah Truckle has worked for the State of Vermont since 2014 for both the Department of Corrections and the Department for Children and Families.  She has previously worked as a Policy Manager within correction’s policy development unit, in the Child Development Division overseeing operations, and most recently leading DCF’S fiscal team. Prior to joining the state, Sarah worked as a consultant supporting various Federal Agencies in both regulatory and analytical projects. 

She has graduate degrees in both law and environmental policy from Vermont Law School.  In her role within the Secretary’s Office, she leads the agency’s integration and care coordination through complex case management, directing the systems-level coordination of agency resources and community partner services.  Additionally, her work integrates the Agency’s strategic operations supporting programmatic and fiscal alignment. Outside of work Sarah enjoys baking cakes and pastries, reading fiction, and walking through Hubbard Park with her two sons.

Ahead of her session at PSN’s Government Innovation Massachusetts in-person event on June 30th, we sat down with the Director of Program and Strategic Operations, for an exclusive interview to find out more about her career, her initiatives, advice for those following in her footsteps, and much more.

Q1:

What is your favorite part of your role?

Answer: My favorite part of my role is the ever-changing landscape of the work.  As a person who craves new knowledge and experiences my role affords me the opportunity to constantly develop new skills and learn the new subject matter. 

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Q2:

What is your favorite screen-time break activity at work?

Answer: The office complex I work from has beautiful trails where I enjoy walking to take needed screen-time breaks. 

Q3:

As a leader, how do you help to foster an environment of collaboration within Vermont’s Agency of Human Services? 

Answer: Collaboration is a critical part of any functioning organization.  A core value within AHS, I bring cross-agency teams together monthly to create both collaboration and networking opportunities.  What I’ve learned fosters collaboration organically is relationships and vulnerabilities.  Providing teams the opportunity to meet outside their typical contacts, and allowing staff to explore beyond their typical duties creates a space for collaboration, growth, and innovation. 

Q4:

Your Session: Never Waste a Great Opportunity to Innovate: Addressing Homelessness Head-On will detail how you and your team were able to leverage the opportunities provided by the pandemic to springboard your Human Services – and in this case – specifically impacting homelessness. Is there one principle that you found essential to this project? Can you explain why?

Answer: The pandemic has taught us many lessons.  For me, a key principle has been to keep moving forward and find the opportunity.  While many of the problems seemed insurmountable – such as creating a homeless housing program 10x larger than the one we had previously, the stakes were astronomically high.  In the early part of the pandemic with so much unknown, we knew it was essential to limit contact and thus shift from congregating sheltering.  The “move mountains” mentality and the collective commitment to service pushed through barriers that previously would have taken years.

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Q5:

What is the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in the public sector?

Answer: It will all be here tomorrow.  During these last few years many of us have worked exceptionally long hours tackling problems that before we would have never imagined.  This easily can lead down a path of 80-hour work weeks and a lack of work-life balance.  While our work is critical, a colleague once reminded me that the State will still be here tomorrow, and that leaving something unfinished at the end of the day was OK.

Q6:

What advice would you give concerning recruiting for the public sector workforce? 

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Answer: Find people with a strong baseline set of skills who are mission orientated, smart people can learn new subject matter easily, and staff committed to service will push forward.

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