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Kimberly Kadziolka on her role as executive director of The Parent Network of Western New York

Portrait of Executive Director of The Parent Network Kimberly Kadziolka
Simone Alston/Simone Louesa Photography
Kimberly Kadziolka
Executive Director of The Parent Network Kimberly Kadziolka

Kimberly Kadziolka is the executive director of The Parent Network of Western New York. With a career spanning over three decades in human services, a Pembroke native spoke with WBFO about what The Parent Network does, her career, and advice for women seeking leadership roles in corporate spaces. The following is a transcript of that conversation.

Preston: Talk about what The Parent Network does.

Kadziolka: So Parent Network is an organization that works primarily with families with children with special needs. Most of our work is surrounding educational advocacy. If a child has a special need and the parent doesn’t feel as though they’re getting all the assistance they’re entitled to, we’ll step in and assist that parent — talking with the school district or the professionals in their lives, being that bridge to making sure that the child’s getting what they want. But we also support adults with special needs in the different service systems and then really just any type of special need that somebody has, we’re going to make that link to the services for whatever they need to get to meet their full potential.

Preston: How did you become executive director, how did that happen?

Kadziolka: I actually joined the organization last June. I have been working in Human Services for my entire career in Western New York, so, over 30 years now. And most of the work that I’ve done has been with people with special needs. But I’ve also worked in child welfare, child mental health, domestic violence intervention and prevention, and in prison reentry so people who are incarcerated and coming back to Western New York and entering back into our communities. So, a lot of different populations that I’ve worked with.

Preston: You mentioned that you’ve been in this career field for over 30 years, was that always the goal for you?

Kadziolka: No, actually when I was in high school, I didn’t even know this was a career. When I first went away to college, my goal, my dream was to work in advertising. Then life happened and I ended up leaving school, moving back home and going to University at Buffalo. I started working in a group home. My best friend worked there and I visited for lunch and she said ‘Do you want to work here?’, and I’m like ‘yeah, sure.’ So I ended up switching my major. My undergraduate degree, I switched to Human Services and went to school for my Master's and my Doctorate and here I am.

Preston: What is some feedback that you’ve gotten from parents or children or even adults that have used your services?

Kadziolka: It is really gratifying when people come up to me at an event and say ‘Oh, I’ve used your services,’ ‘I attended this training that you did and it was really helpful,’ or just talking to different professionals, who at one point, kind of walked through our doors. A number of our staff are parents of children with disabilities who have used our services at one point. So, I think that’s the ultimate gratitude, right? That they just want to come and work with you.

Preston: What would you say to women who want to have a role in leadership?

Kadziolka: Definitely there’s a seat at the table for women and in some industries that’s a lot harder, right? I work in a predominantly female-led industry, so I think my journey was a little bit easier, but there’s definitely a seat at the table for women, a role for women, and don’t let people tell you that there’s not. You start seeing too, in industries that are more male-dominated like STEM careers, that women are really starting to make some strides. But we need to continue to do that so if there’s not a seat at the table for you, bring a chair.