The conviction that one person can make a difference in someone else’s life has motivated Kim Venner in both her professional career and her personal endeavors.
“It doesn’t have to be a huge thing,” Venner noted. “You can spend 10 minutes being nice in the grocery line and that can make a difference to someone who’s having a bad day.
“I try to remember that in everything I do.”
Venner, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work, worked in the fields of child welfare and behavioral health care for more than 25 years. In 2013, Venner joined Tanager Place, where she worked in a number of roles for the children’s human services agency.
Most recently, before her retirement earlier this year, she served as the organization’s chief operating officer.
Venner considers one of her greatest achievements at Tanager Place to be her work in developing the pediatric integrated health program.
The program, which is offered to children with Medicaid insurance who have been diagnosed with mental health issues, helps families coordinate physical and mental health services to reduce unnecessary or excessive Medicaid costs as well as to help reduce hospitalizations, emergency room visits, in-patient stays and other crises events.
“We built the program from the ground up,” Venner said. “Within a year, it was the leading integrated home health program in the state.”
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Throughout her career, Venner also made a difference by sharing her knowledge with other human services professionals. She was a frequent speaker at social work conferences around the country, including events sponsored by organizations such as the Coalition for Families and Children’s Services, the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health and the Child Welfare League of America.
Venner also sought to make a positive impact by opening her home to foster children. For more than a decade, Venner and her family took in 25 foster children, many of whom were part of the family for several years and continue to share weddings, births and other milestones in their adult lives.
“It was a big part of our life,” Venner said. “Looking back, it gives my husband and I and our grown children a good feeling to know we made a difference in children’s lives at a time when they needed stability.”
Now, as Venner enters retirement, she continues to look for ways to help others. She serves as a core committee member for UnityPoint Health’s Make It OK campaign, which is intended to remove the stigma from mental illness, and will seek other opportunities as the pandemic situation allows.
“My passions lie in helping grow those around me, especially young women and children,” she said. “I like to know I’m planting seeds in someone else’s life and making a difference.”
Business 380 spotlights HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.
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