Friday Feature: Former Student Ali Gibbs


I wish this former student were out of work.  What I mean is, I wish she didn’t have this work to do…that her work was done….. for good…. forever.  Oh…. Meet Ali, and you’ll see what I mean….

Ali Gibbs

What do you do for work?

I am a part time Case Manager for Steele County Transitional Housing.  I was hired specifically to work on a grant funded by the Office on Violence Against Women where we house victims/survivors of domestic violence who are homeless because they are fleeing.  For up to two years, we subsidize a portion of their rent while providing case management to help them with things like budgeting, paying off debts and building savings, job search/skills, furthering their education, healthy relationships and parenting strategies, community involvement, and building their personal support system.

We are family!

We are family!

What does that look like day to day? I work (as in go to work) one day a week and I am available by phone/email and work from home sporadically the rest of the week. On average, I meet with the people (not always women) in our program every other week for about an hour which is what takes up most of my one work day.  My work from home includes phone calls and emails from people in our program, my coworkers and colleagues.  I prepare for my meetings by finding useful information for them about all the topics I listed above as well as free/inexpensive events in the area.  I really love seeing a program that works for people.  I see them at the beginning when they are fleeing and in need of safe housing.  I see them working to get a job (or a second job, or a better job), to pursue further education, to find good child care.  Then the best part is when I see them self sufficient and graduate from our program.

Even a job I love as much as this one has mundane tasks.  I have to case note my meetings with people (type, print, put in their file).  The initial intake process involves a lot of paperwork which all needs to get put into a file.  People are busy and those in our program are no different, so trying to track down people and schedule appointments with everyone in one day is not always easy.  Then, real life happens and kids get sick or something for work comes up and they have to cancel last minute.  I get a lot of emails about training for myself, opportunities for our participants (job fairs, stuff for kids, church events, etc.) that I have to sort through.  The working sporadically from home is great, but it can be difficult to find time to sit down and take care of all these things.  I have a 1 year old and we’re pretty active (and 1 year olds are also notoriously messy which requires lots of cleaning).  Some people have trouble taking off their “work hat” and leaving work at work; however, I sometimes have the opposite problem putting my “work hat” on since I am very part time.  At the end of the day, it really is the perfect set up for me and our family.


Whatever floats your boat...

Whatever floats your boat…

What do you do for play or enrichment?

Like anyone, my hobbies and interests have evolved over the years.  The early months of becoming a mom required 100% of my time and attention, so it wasn’t until recently I’ve been able to truly do things for myself again.  My number one “hobby” has always been spending time with friends.  I’m a very social person; I could do anything or nothing as long as I’m in good company.  I love water play-swimming and water parks, bicycling, roller blading, and going for walks with our yellow lab, Rowdy.  Luckily, I can still do all of those things with a toddler.  I like going to new places, near and far, and learning new things.  Even as an adult, I am involved in some extra-curriculars.  I am still a volunteer at my last place of employment (the Crisis Resource Center of Steele County), on the Advisory Council for our local ECFE program (Early Childhood and Family Education), I am a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I am a VBE (Volunteer Babywearing Education) for a chapter of Babywearing International (babywearing has allowed me to continue being a do-er with a kid in tow). My husband is a First Sergeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard and, until his most recent transfer, I was a leader of his unit’s Family Readiness Group.  During his most recent deployment, I started a blog ( and enjoy writing there.  One thing that has never changed is my love for live music.  I find a way to get to at least a couple concerts/music festivals a year.

Stripes & a couple of real stars!

Stripes & a couple of real stars!

Feet planted firmly....

Feet planted firmly….

How did you prepare for your career/life so far (through college or otherwise)?

Real life has been the biggest preparation for my career and later life.  Seeing how common domestic and sexual violence is, and seeing it affect people I care about, is what made me choose my career path.  I wanted to help people I knew in any way I could, but when I realized I could help people for a living, I was sold.  I majored in Sociology (with an emphasis on family dynamics and gender/family violence) with a minor in Spanish.  While in college, I volunteered and interned at a local Center for victims/survivors of sexual violence.

What are you proud of?

Honestly, I’m proud of a lot.  The first thing that always comes to mind is that I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 19.  Other than our mortgage, we are completely debt free thanks to diligent savings and smart spending.  I am very independent and have gotten through my husband being away for two 12+ month deployments overseas, and I have done it well.  I’m proud of the work I do now and the work I have done as a domestic violence/sexual assault victim advocate, both are jobs that don’t pay much but are very rewarding.  I’m proud of my dedication as a wife and mother and the beautiful family we have.  My daughter has a GI disorder/severe food allergies that make some things very challenging, but I have advocated for her, handled it very well and she is doing great.  I have traveled the world and seen a lot, which has ultimately shown me how little I have actually seen.  I am definitely a good, loyal friend.

Service with some smiles. Credit: Owatonna Peoples Press

Service with some smiles.
Credit: Owatonna Peoples Press

 What advice do you have for young(er) people as they prepare to launch themselves into the adult world?

Go to school, some type of school.  There no single degree or major that is right for everyone, but post-secondary education is about so much more than that.  Beyond education, college introduced me to some of the best friends I could have imagined.  I was exposed to ideas, cultures, and diversity I’m not sure I would have seen otherwise.  It made me think.  It’s where I met my husband.  And when you get to school, choose a field of study that interests you, one in which you will enjoy the courses.  For most jobs, you just need a degree, it doesn’t have to be a specific degree.  You’ll do much better in your classes and take more away from them if you enjoy your time in the classroom and studying.  If you can swing it, take classes that will really impact your life no matter what your job is.  I took classes like “Courtship, Marriage, and Family” and “Parent-Child Interaction” knowing they would be beneficial no matter what I did 9-5, Monday through Friday.  Also, trust yourself.  We rarely seem to give ourselves enough credit.  If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.  If you have a goal, make it happen.