Westmont Magazine A Better Place

Kathy Jobe Johnsen ’84 learned a lot from her first job even though it lasted only three months. After earning a degree in economics and business at Westmont, she took a position in sales and soon realized that she hated selling. Concerned that quitting after such a short time would brand her a failure, she asked her father for advice. He told her to leave a job she despised, and she did, grateful for his insight.

With help from a Westmont alumnus, Kathy got a job with the Olga Company where she put together sales materials. She discovered she was good at writing and organizing and enjoyed training the sales staff. Understanding the frustration of being in the wrong job and wanting to do more training, Kathy found herself drawn to human resources work. After earning a certificate at CSU Northridge, she transferred to Olga’s human resources department.

Meanwhile, she met her husband, Eric, who was completing a master’s of divinity degree at Fuller Seminary. They both volunteered as youth leaders at La Canada Presbyterian Church. When Eric decided he was not being called to full-time ministry, he went back to school and received an M.B.A.

Eric then accepted a job in Sacramento, and subsequent career moves took the couple to Modesto and Napa Valley. Kathy worked as the director of human resources for a small beverage distributor in Sacramento, and held a similar position in Modesto at a company that makes recyclable bottles. During these years, the Johnsens became the parents of Daniel, 9, and Steven, 6.

Kathy found the frequent moves difficult. “I kept thinking, what is the Lord doing?” she says. “Finally I learned to just let go of the worry. In every situation, something good has come out of it, and we went on to a better place. God may move us, but He always brings us close to him and eventually to a better place.”

Today they live in Salinas, Calif. Eric is vice president of business development for Cyprus Medical Network in Monterey, and Kathy is director of human resources for Pebble Beach Company in Pebble Beach. The resort, which owns four golf courses and three otel properties, employs 1,800 people.

“I like the challenge of my job,” she says. “It’s different every day. I feel I make a difference as an employee advocate; I can change things for the better. I get involved in many different areas and projects.”

Life is crazy with two boys and a full-time job, Kathy admits. “I couldn’t work without a husband who is a partner,” she says. “Eric does so much: cooks dinner, takes out the trash, coaches both boys’ soccer teams. We have a great partnership.”

Kathy plays on the company softball team and works with the high school group at First Presbyterian Church in Salinas. Eric is involved with music ministry there and serves as a lay preacher and Bible study teacher. They enjoy activities with their kids.

Reunions with Westmont friends are a highlight each year. “Westmont was one of the best times of my entire life,” she says. “The relationships I made are very important to me.

“I appreciate the education I got at Westmont more now than when I was there,” Kathy adds. “The teachers cared about the kind of person I was. The message about having a balanced life really came across, and I appreciate that. So much of what I learned there is relevant — it’s helped me be in a better place.”