A: Dongfen Gao (DG) - I was born in China. I went to a college in Beijing and got my degree in Civil Engineering. After college, I worked in the same college for almost five years. In summer 1987, I came to the U.S. to join my husband who came to the U.S. to study abroad (two years early). I got a job as a scientist in an environmental consulting firm in San Rafael after I got my Ph.D in Environmental Engineering in 1995. I have been living in Novato ever since.
Q: What attracted you to work for Marin County?
A: DG – After five years working at the environment consultant firm, I got a web developer job at Learning Tools International in Santa Rosa. When my daughter was going to middle school, the long hours of my working schedule and long commute became too much of a burden. When I came across the opening of my current position, I jumped at it. The first thing that attracted me was the location of IST office and the flexible working hours. It is so close to my home that I can work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and be home to stay with my children after their school. I enjoyed working at county for the distance, friendly colleagues, exciting projects and training opportunities when needed to learn new technologies. I have been working for the county for more than nine years now.
Q: What do you like to do for fun outside of work
A: DG – I spend many weekends volunteering at events for the schools my children have been attending. Such as Walk-a-thon, Book fair, Safe & Grad night, etc. On my RDO Fridays, I used to spend 2-4 hours in the classroom to help the teacher when my kids were in kindergarten to 3rd grade in elementary school. I have volunteered to manage the website for Redwood Empire Chinese Association (located at Santa Rosa) since 2004. I also have managed and hosted the website for Petaluma Christian Church Chinese School for four years. Last summer, I became a Novato High School PTSA executive board member, and took the Auditor position. Besides helping the community during weekends and my RDOs, I like to go to the YMCA and take classes and do cardio machine exercise. My favorite classes are Spin and Zumba classes. I also like to take my kids to various fairs/events around county whenever it is possible. I enjoy traveling, though with kids still at school, I haven’t gotten many chances to travel. Recently, my daughter and I went to Europe for two and half weeks. It was a great trip.
Q: What do you hope to get out of MAPLE?
A: DG – I enjoy meeting other Asians at MAPLE. I didn’t know there were so many of us. I would like to get to know more people around County of Marin, especially Asian colleagues, to make more connections, and share leadership opportunities and opportunities for family and kids to grow in America.
The interview was conducted by Jacalyn Mah on Friday, June 27, 2014. Photos are courtesy of Dongfen Gao.