Jenny Krabbe is quick to make sure you know she is part of a team. While she accepts recognition that comes her way, she will ensure you understand she is only one part of a larger group. It is this group mentality that makes her an exceptional leader.
Jenny spent close to 20 years in a volunteer capacity settling refugees. That work gave her an understanding of others’ stories and resonated with much of what she values in life. It is her sense of social justice and the idea that the other is as valuable as oneself that drives her desire to help others. She brings these beliefs and her political science and policy background to her work in employment counselling.
In 2009, Jenny began working with the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) supporting women with multiple barriers to enter employment. This effort lead to Modular Employment Training which is currently one of twelve employment programs the agency offers. During her career, Jenny has pioneered, developed and implemented innovative solutions to employment skills training for multi-barriered through to professional immigrant women.
Jenny and her team look at literacy learning from an employment standpoint – what skills does the learner need to become employable? Workplace skills like WHIMIS can seem unattainable for some literacy learners; but through her work, Jenny has learned when someone is motivated towards a goal like getting a particular job, their ability to acquire a certain kind of language increases.
Because the goal is for learners to find work, employment counsellors need to understand that they are not teaching a single skill in isolation. They are teaching language skills, essential skills and employment skills, all of which contribute to the job specific skills the client is looking to gain. Integration is the key to success in an employment classroom. When all the skills are successfully integrated, big things can happen for the clients.
Jenny recognizes that the classroom doesn’t only teach explicit employment skills. Many of her clients come from isolated home lives and only interact with members of their own cultural group. However, that changes when they work in a class setting and are introduced to women from different backgrounds who are in the same position they are. Working together they gain confidence and often discover passions, goals and desires within themselves they hadn’t previously acknowledged. CIWA’s Employment Services classrooms are full of confidence and achievement.
It is thanks to her care for others, and her ability to understand their needs, that Jenny is able to develop programs and services that are robust and sustainable.
Her programs are so thorough, and created with so much care and thought, CIWA was able to move its employment services programs online seamlessly in March 2020. Jenny’s approach to program design is to spend time upfront to make sure programs and cohorts are set up for success. She believes if the right foundation is set, programs will be able to adapt and change as different needs and issues arise.
For Jenny, success is not optional, it will be achieved in some sort of capacity for each one of her clients. She is outcomes driven and understands how to connect learners to the resources they need. Everything she does is in response to learner needs and, as a result, enables learners to succeed on their own terms. Jenny’s impact on her colleagues and clients is immeasurable thanks to her dedication to program design, but more so thanks to her belief that we as individuals are not the sum of all parts and that often, through helping others, we are able to find ourselves.