Professional Q&A: Erin Engelke
Driven by service, Erin Engelke has spent much of her career in the nonprofit sector. After moving her family to Edmond more than 25 years ago, she’s worked tirelessly to bring hope to other families in the metro, especially in her current role as executive director of Calm Waters, Central Oklahoma’s grief center.
Q: Do you live in Edmond, work in Edmond, or both?
A: My family and I have lived in Edmond since 1996. My office at Calm Waters is in downtown Oklahoma City, so I take the quick drive down Broadway Extension every day. I love how connected Edmond is to the city!
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school?
A: I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, but moved to a small town in Idaho in elementary school, where I lived until coming to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma Christian University. I graduated with a degree in public relations. I’ve lived in Oklahoma longer now than anywhere else, so I suppose that makes me an Okie!
Q: What did you do prior to joining Calm Waters?
A: Before leading Calm Waters as executive director, I managed fundraising, public relations, and community relations for several outstanding nonprofits in Oklahoma City: World Neighbors, Feed the Children, and Sunbeam Family Services. I also previously worked in PR and marketing roles with MidFirst Bank and Smith and Associates, Oklahoma’s oldest ad agency.
Q: What drew you to work at Calm Waters?
A: Because of my work in the nonprofit sector for so many years, I was very familiar with the mission of Calm Waters and felt their programming was very important to the mental health of our community. Grief doesn’t discriminate and affects us all eventually in life! The funny thing is, years ago, I had joked that one day I would love to work at Calm Waters, not knowing that dream would come to life. I’ve now been the executive director for over four years.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I absolutely love our mission and have such respect and admiration for my team of therapists and social workers who work daily to help children and families find hope again after loss. I personally have experienced tremendous loss in my life, losing a dad to suicide as a young girl and then losing four precious babies to miscarriage. It’s because of those experiences that I am extremely driven to ensure others like me are able to journey through their grief with a community of support and hope.
Q: What’s something you’re passionate about in your personal life?
A: I am passionate about so many things, beginning with my beautiful family: my husband of 25 years, Jason, and my three miracle children, Gabriel (17), Ava (14), and Elin (11). I am inspired daily to help other working moms like me thrive. Several years ago, I launched a movement and blog called Beauty in the Busyness, where I challenge the status quo of work-life balance and encourage women to seek a fulfilled life instead. I also love pageantry; I was crowned Mrs. Oklahoma in 2020 and placed in the Top 15 at Mrs. America. I also enjoy running and lifting weights so I can eat all my world-famous chocolate chip cookies!
Q: What do you like about Edmond?
Q: What is your number one tip for other professionals, either for work or life in general?
A: Life has a way of presenting unexpected challenges, some of which you don’t always think you can tackle. But in almost every instance, you CAN accomplish far more than you could ever imagine. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”
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About Tim Priebe
Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.
Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.