November 2018,  OneVoice CSDA Newsletter

Meet Your Peers – Marie Girulat

Marie Girulat, Director, San Bernardino County DCSS

I was born and raised in San Diego by an amazing single mom. My dad died when I was 2 and my sister was 6 months old. My mom sacrificed A LOT to raise us. She worked two jobs, moved my grandmother in to help take care of us, and ensured we had a great education by sending us to private school. She relied on our extended family immensely, and luckily they all lived in San Diego.

When I turned 18 and graduated high school, after a summer at the beach, I got a part-time job working for a credit union. I attended San Diego State University and began to pursue my degree in criminal justice administration.   An opportunity to move into a full-time position in the collections department came open, I took it and dropped out of college. I know…dumb! Working in collections, I went to small claims court, repossessed cars, and collected on credit card debt. It was fun and the people at the credit union were amazing co-workers.

My mom, who worked for the County of San Diego, had been trying to get me to apply for positions. She gave me a student worker application, then a revenue and recovery collector application. So, I caved in and applied. After a year, I was called to interview and to my surprise, I was offered a job as a collector in the Child Support Unit. That was November 1988 and I am still here!

While I worked full-time for the county, I decided to go back to college and get my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration. In 1990, I received my degree. Twenty-five years later, I went back to San Diego State University and in an 18-month accelerated program, I got my master’s in public administration. One of the best days of my life was to have my husband, mom, best friend, and daughter in the stands.

Over the last 30 years I have worked my way up from that collector to the Assistant Director in San Diego and for the last 2 ½ years as the Director in San Bernardino. Helping the people in our caseload is my passion. I love trying to find new and innovative ways to collaborate, provide services, and improve the lives of not only the children in our community, but the workers who serve our customers every day!

On the personal side, I am married to an amazing guy who agreed to relocate to San Bernardino, start over as a real estate agent and has supported me from day one! In 2010, we adopted our daughter from foster care through the County of San Diego. She was 18 months old when she came to live with us. She was extremely delayed in all aspects of her development. For over a year, we worked with therapists to help her hit her milestones. She had an amazing social worker who focused on what kind of adoptive family she needed to be successful. Her foster mom, who took care of her from birth, loved her and watched over her. We still share updates and pictures with both. Today she is in 2nd grade and excels. She is in Tae Kwan Do, swims, runs, bikes, and loves anything to do with the outdoors. A girl after her father’s heart for sure.

As for me, I enjoy anything to do with the outdoors and family time, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and photography. I love to read when I can and learn new things. I can say that I am truly blessed with my family, job, and all the opportunities that I have been given over my lifetime.