By Melanie Williams
It’s fair to say Ivonne Zucco came a long way both physically and professionally.
This Chilean native came to the United States 17 years ago with great expectations – and then fulfilled them. She started as a nanny in Greenwich, where she still lives, and is now executive director for the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford. Zucco credits her optimistic personality and hard work for her success.
Her decision to move to the United States from Chile was not a difficult one. She recalls, “I was young and wanted to explore other places and I really liked the U.S.”
She held true to her goal of exploring and held several positions before becoming the executive director for the center last year. Her broad range of positions include being a housekeeper, owner of her own small business, office manager, and a bilingual counselor. Being a counselor is where Zucco became fulfilled with her work.
Her love for helping people served as a motivating factor for her to continue to strive for her dreams. At the age of 25, Zucco enrolled at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, where she earned her degree in Psychology. At this point in her life, Zucco was a part-time student, a full-time mother of a newborn (who is now 11 years old and also bilingual), and a full-time business owner.
While juggling many hats, she proudly reflects on her great ability to multi-task and achieve her goals. “I am proud of my progression. When you set your mind to do something you love, you can accomplish all your goals. It’s nice to know that you can really get ahead in life if you want to,” said Zucco.
Zucco’s work history shows she isn’t afraid of progression and change; she worked as a bilingual counselor for a year and a half, then served as the Center’s director of operations for six months. As a counselor, she worked under the previous executive director, Connecticut’s First Lady Cathy Malloy, who recommended Zucco for her current position, which she has held for a year and a half. A recommendation she was honored to have received.
Malloy told Stamford.Patch.com, shortly after Zucco had started, “Having put a huge amount of time and passion into the Center, I put a lot of thought into it, making sure that the stability would continue. I spent a lot of time observing my staff and it was almost a no-brainer. Everything clicked — Ivonne had an interest in the whole management and administrative part of it. She also has a great passion for it.”
Zucco stated, “Cathy Malloy saw the strengths I had and wanted this position to be given to someone who she knew was committed to the job. It was an honor for her to consider me.”
Zucco is fully committed to her role. While her transition to helping people has moved her from the front office to behind the scenes, she is striving to expand policies already in place.
One initiative she is fondly proud of is the increase of the Latinos they serve. In the past three years, the amount of Latinos served as part of the Center’s overall clientele has increased from 25 percent to 35 percent. (Fairfield County is about 20 percent Latino.) However, Zucco, being the team player she is, doesn’t take sole credit for this percentage increase but contributes it to her hardworking staff and volunteers who have networked with several organizations, such as the Hispanic Advisory Council, and other affiliations who target Latinos and minorities to spread awareness.
“I love my job. I am an optimistic person and I love helping people. When you are able to help people it’s amazing,” said Zucco.