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Jane Holland, Human Resources

  Jane Holland
Jane Holland, director of Family Services in UI Human Resources. Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Family comes first for Jane Holland. She wants the best for Steve, her partner, is close with her siblings, and she travels to see her mother every weekend. University of Iowa faculty and staff would concur that Holland is a good candidate to lead Family Services in UI Human Resources.

Family Services offers assistance in family-related issues, with the goal of enabling UI employees to work to their capacity, feeling confident that their families are well cared for. The department offers services in elder care and programs in child care, consults on flexible work options, and provides lactation resources.

Holland, who has been with the University since 1991 and with Family Services since 1997, talks to fyi about the importance of preparing for elder care situations, the benefits of flexible work options, and how she rolls on a day off.

You are the point person for elder care consultation, guidance, and resources in Family Services. What does this service offer faculty and staff?

UI faculty, staff, students, and their spouses/partners can speak privately with a geriatric social worker from Elder Services Inc. about their concerns. We offer predetermined appointments monthly on each side of the river; if these times don’t fit with an employee’s schedule, we work to arrange other appointments. Along with the social worker, I try to gain an understanding of each situation so that the meeting isn’t conducted in a cookie-cutter fashion. We want to respond to an employee’s individual needs.

Partnering with Len Sandler and his students from the College of Law, seminars on estate planning and powers of attorney are offered in the spring. We can also refer to care coordination, a service that helps to organize services, as the complexity of elder care issues creates an overwhelming demand on one person.

We try to offer as much information as we can online ( in practical, down-to-earth language. We think of our web site as a toolbox of sorts that provides links to invaluable local, regional and national resources.

What prompted the creation of these services?

In 2000, research and focus groups showed us that many faculty and staff, and some students, were serving caregiver roles for their parents, siblings, grandparents, even neighbors, in some cases. The physical toll and the emotional weight of these tasks were overwhelming. Making decisions for parents is an uncomfortable situation—no one wants to overstep their bounds and strip their parents of independent decision making. And we encountered so many people who literally cried, as their emotions were that close to the surface.

Is it tough for people to open up about their family care issues?


A few of my favorite things ...

Food: fruits—they're kinda sweet

Weekday lunch spot: anyplace with a soy burger on the menu

Reading: Jane Austen; National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discover magazines

Movie: ones with stories where people overcome something

TV show: Top Chef

Music: '50s and '60s, Harry Connick, Mannheim Steamroller


Many people don’t know about existing elder care services. Parents of young children want to know everything, and they talk openly about these issues. They ask one another: Where can I find good child care? My child has the flu; does your child have the flu? Do you know a good pediatrician? And lots of legislation and leave policies are structured for parents with young children. Talking about elder care topics hasn’t come naturally yet, so people feel alone in this situation.

For aging parents, the varied options are unfamiliar. Some parents feel uncomfortable with people coming into their homes or think of elder care as the nursing home. We’re still in a transitional period in terms of communication on these issues.

When should people contact Family Services to discuss elder care issues?

People often wait for a crisis to occur before they prepare themselves. I encourage people to play with our web site, learn about the available resources and speak with the social worker from Elder Services Inc. And have conversations with your parents about these issues—it will make things easier when the time comes to make decisions.

Another component of Family Services might come in handy when dealing with elder care—let’s talk about flexible work options.

Flexible work options are extremely beneficial to employees caring for aging parents. In a crisis, the employee might have to be out of the office several days or longer, but there might be an opportunity for the employee to do some work off-site during that period, especially if the work is computer-based.

Our office started creating templates for flexible work options in 2004 to help UI departments assist staff with their work lives and personal lives. Flexible work options can help those pursuing educational opportunities or child care responsibilities. For flexibility to be successful, the employee’s needs and department’s needs are met.

How do flexible work options help the University?

Workplace flexibility can be beneficial for the University as an institution. The 21st-century workplace will see dramatic changes. Technology will fuel some of that, but sustainability and competitive, global marketplaces will play huge roles. Offering workplace flexibility will help us compete for top employees and adjust our workplace to the needs of the larger market.

Using technology and flexible schedules will also result in sustainability gains. Work-from-home arrangements keep people off the roads, and can yield reductions in space needs and heating/cooling costs.

Jane Holland using Rollerblades  
Photo by Tom Jorgensen.

How did you come to your position at the University?

I’m from Rock Island, Ill., and went to school at Augustana College. I worked on the East Coast for some time, but came back to this area because my father fell ill. I was at the point in my life where it was time to settle down somewhere; I chose to come back to the Midwest to be close to my family. My father has since died, but I see my mother every weekend. She’s 93, and she plays bridge, lives in her own home, and gets out every day. She’s vibrant—I hope I’m like her when I’m 93. I came to the University in 1991, working with child health specialty clinics. In 1997, I was hired in Human Resources.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

One aspect of my job involves working with student families. They juggle so many things—all families do, but student families especially so. They’re working to achieve success, to graduate, while being really good parents. Helping them is quite meaningful.

What do you like to do on a day off?

I like to be outside, especially when it’s warm out. I like to rollerblade! I bought blades about 10 years ago, and I’ve picked up the activity again recently. I find rollerblading to be a freeing experience. I have to concentrate, which doesn’t allow work to enter my mind. And I’m cautious—some people can go fast, but I’m at the age that when you fall, you feel it.

by Christopher Clair

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