Stacy Moser KCPAO Women in Leadership

This Women’s History Month, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is highlighting some of the depth and breadth of women leaders in our office as part of our “Women in Leadership” series. These profiles are only a few of the many amazing women in our office.

Support Staff Supervisor for the Family Support Division (Seattle Office)

How long have you worked at the PAO?

32 years as of this summer.

What is your role in the PAO?

I am currently a Support Staff Supervisor for the Family Support Division in the Seattle Office. We also have a Kent Office and so I have a counterpart in Kent. I started as a receptionist and held various positions and my most recent position was paralegal.

I’m dealing with the soup-to-nuts — I supervise the support staff and oversee the daily functions of the Seattle office. Help creating procedures, policies, staff hiring, annual goal setting, annual performance evals, complaints, filling in where needed; whatever it takes to open our doors on time and get the work done.

We’ve shrunk a lot over the last 30 years. I currently have 15 support staff that are my direct reports, and we have 5 Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys in Seattle and Kathleen our chief. And Kent is another 19–20 people. We’ve shrunk a lot from the days of when we were 80 people.

What were you doing before coming to the PAO?

I came here straight from college. I went to Washington State University, and I was blessed enough to get a 4-year degree. I majored in Sociology and I minored in Women’s Studies.

I’m the only person in my family on either my mom’s side or my dad’s side to have a bachelor’s degree, so I know how fortunate I am to have that, I don’t take that for granted because it wasn’t taken for granted in my family.

After I received my degree, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life. I had a Liberal Arts major and knew I wanted to be in a helping profession of some kind. I was interested in social problems, functions of society, so I was really fortunate to find out about a position that opened in what was then called the Domestic Section of the PAO, which later became the Family Support Division. I didn’t know much about it but I knew it helped families which was good enough from me coming out of college. It was a receptionist job — so I think it was more my desire to be in a helping profession for families in particular.

My mom’s background as a social worker also encouraged me to work in this field.

It started where I just wanted to learn the functions of my job, and it turned into what we’re doing bigger picture-wise in the office to help families thrive get the support they need. And our office has evolved our practice a lot over the years in a positive way, and that’s kept me going because the office hasn’t just stayed stagnant so that encourages me to grow.

What are some of your goals in regards to the work you do?

One set of goals is the obvious — fulfilling the Family Support Division mission: bettering the life of children and families, and connecting with them so that children can get the support they need.

My goal has also broadened over the years, looking at a more wholistic approach. Better understanding the challenges people face and helping them better their lives so they can fulfil their parental obligations.

My other set of goals is related to how I can better serve the staff. That is my job, to serve the staff, so my goal is to create and atmosphere that people enjoy working in. I try to set an example in how I treat and talk about people — both in the office and dealing with the public. Respecting and embracing our differences. My goal is always that somebody feels that they were treated fairly and respectfully even if they aren’t super happy with the decision.

What sort of obstacles have you faced in your field? What was it like dealing with those?

To be honest, I’ve been fortunate that the bulk of my career has been in the Family Support Division at the PAO, and the Family Support Division is majority women right now. I feel like I was somewhat buffered from gender bias within my office at least, not feeling sexism like some people might feel trying to move up in my career.

If you are female, you are going to deal with sexual harassment at some point in your life, and I certainly did in temporary jobs outside of the PAO. But in Family Support I’ve been so lucky, because it’s mostly women. I have seen males in the case loads attempting to be intimidating more to women, or responding more favorably to men — you know if a male tells them something they assume they are a lawyer even if they are not.

I’m a white person, so I have more privilege in that way too.

What advice would you give to other women who are considering a similar career path?

Figure out what motivates you, and try to find work that helps fulfill that motivation. You may not find the perfect job where everything you do in that position is enlightening and you are completely fulfilled every minute — achieving your goals is going to take time. Even parts that aren’t your favorite, they are building blocks for the next job.

And if it’s not resonating with you keep looking for what does resonate with you, and when you find a good fit then consistency is the key to any job. Consistently be there, produce great work, and look at how you treat others. Look for a mentor too, seek out advice from somebody that you respect.

If you are at the PAO there are so many amazing people. So seek people out.

Work on your people skills, in particular in my office. Every single person deals with the public and their coworkers — you’ve got to get along, and so it’s pretty basic: being an accepting, kind and compassionate person always works well with your colleagues.

Keep working on equity and social justice work and your journey to being anti-racist.

And then learn about yourself: figure out your work style, there’s a lot of trainings that are given in the county. And if you can figure out how your work style might complement somebody else’s, it’s not just about you it’s a collaboration. And find ways to be a balanced person, whatever works for you — because inevitably you are going to hit roadblocks. Look at what we’re going through right now with the coronavirus.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I practice gratitude, and everyone in my office has heard me talk about this. And I take a month every year to write down three things I’m grateful for, and I reach out to people important to me and let them know I am grateful for them. And I think the act of doing that really trains your brain, and so when you do have down days you have something to pull from.

Overall, it’s been a great journey for me. I feel very fortunate.

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Catch up with the entire KCPAO Women in Leadership series on our blog at medium.com/kcprosecutor.