JVS CEO Vivian Seigel Celebrates 35 Years with Agency

Thursday, November 8 - The milestone passed quietly, all but unnoticed. At the request of the milestone-reacher.

The date was November 7, 1977. Exactly 35 years ago, Wednesday, Vivian Seigel came to JVS to start a job as a Placement Counselor. It was her second job out of graduate school. Seigel was one of four employees in the placement unit, the only woman.

Times, as they say, have changed. Methods, too. The procedure works a little bit differently from the way it did back when Seigel was doing job placements.

“Clients who were looking for work walked in the door. They sat in front of you and told you what they were looking for,” recalled Seigel. “There was a box in the back of the office. As employers called in their job leads, we filled in a piece of paper that ended up being like carbon paper like in triplicate. The original stayed in the box. You would go literally in the back, see what was available, get on the phone, call the employer and say ‘Joe Smith is sitting in my office. He’s been a bookkeeper. Can I set up an interview?’ And the client went out.”

Seigel stuck around, working at various locations and positions around the agency. She ran JVS’ resettlement program, the West Hollywood office and the JVS Scholarship Program before becoming assistant director of JVS and, ultimately, the agency’s CEO in 1996.

Working for one employer her entire career was not what Seigel envisioned. She was recruited out of graduate school to write workers compensation reports for insurance companies.

“I did it for about two months and I couldn’t handle it,” Seigel said. “I realized I was spending my entire day writing reports for the insurance companies so they would continue to refer to us, and what the client wanted didn’t matter. It was not why I went to graduate school. It’s not what I wanted to do.”

Seigel planned to go back to school, earn a doctorate and go into private practice as a psychologist. That didn’t work out either. A grad school professor knew the then-director of JVS and recommended the agency as a place for Seigel to work in the interim. She came aboard and, as Seigel said, “life happened” and she never returned to school. Seigel married, started her family and moved around the different departments of the agency.

“I think the advantage for me was that JVS gave me the chance first-hand to look at some of the challenges of working in placement unit, a career counseling unit, a rehab unit,” she said. “It became a labor of love. I couldn’t imagine going elsewhere.”