SVO Women: Kelly Peaton, Director of Education and Workforce

Kelly Peaton

Name: Kelly Peaton

Company: The silicon valley organization

Title: Director of Education and Workforce

How long have you been a part of The SVO?

A little over a year ... a year and a half if you count my internship!

Why did you choose to work at The SVO? What about what you do keeps you here?

There are many different ways to organize your career. You can try to maximize money, status, expertise, prestige, impact. The values I focus on are impact, mastery, and autonomy. I want to work somewhere where I can have an impact on an important problem (for me, that's educational inequity). I want to be somewhere I can use my strengths and have opportunities to continue learning and improving. Additionally, I want autonomy to pursue what I think is important. The SVO hits the mark on all three.

What was your first job like?

My first job was a lifeguard and swim instructor at the YMCA. I was just 16, and to be honest, it was mostly boring. There were long hours sitting in the stand, watching over the indoor pool, and smelling chlorine. Teaching swim lessons was much more entertaining. It was pretty satisfying to see a kid start out scared of the water and two weeks later be jumping in with a big smile on their face.

Describe your current job.

As Director of Education and Workforce I wear many hats in developing and implementing our workforce education initiative Strive San Jose. I also organize and oversee fundraising efforts. I’m responsible for maintaining relationships amongst our partners. I sometimes write grant proposals and manage large scale donations. I also assess needs and ensure that program objectives are met. I coordinate program activities and events. I also provide direction and coaching to the four strive san jose liaisons who coordinate work-based learning with our district partners. 

What has been a career high point for you thus far?

Honestly, my first reaction to this question was that I don't have one yet. Ira Glass has an excellent interview where he talks about why people with good taste struggle so much when they first start trying to write, or act, or in his case, be a radio performer. It's because they know the level they are trying to perform at and they know they aren't there. And it's painful to see your work and the gap between where you are and where you want to be. In many ways when I think about my career so far, this gap is what comes to mind. 

What words of advice can you share for other professional women working in the Silicon Valley?

These aren't my words of advice, but they're ones I often turn to. Richard Hamming was a mathematician whose work had a big impact on computer engineering and he had three questions he'd often ask colleagues. What are the biggest problems in your field? Are you working on them? Why not? So I'd advise you to focus on working on hard problems.

On August 26, 2017, Women’s Equality Day is celebrated across the nation. To celebrate, The SVO is highlighting some of the women who choose to make their mark in Silicon Valley business - SVO members & SVO staff - through the SVO Women series.


Every week, we will have new SVO Women profiles on members and staff. Follow along on social media: #SVOWomen