Tag: member spotlight

Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.

I am the IT Director for The Learning Center for Families, in St. George UT. I was hired in September of 2006, and had 30 staff members to support, and two locations. Currently, we are at 100 staff and four locations, and I am still a one-woman IT support team. Never the same day twice! My role as IT Director at TLC includes, but is not limited to, overseeing and implementing technology systems and solutions, determining technology needs of each department, and day to day support of staff both remotely and in person. There are also all of those ‘other duties as assigned’ that come up, so some days I am MacGyver!

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

My motivation for doing what I do is helping others. Not just at work, but in life in general. Having a job that allows me to support the work of an organization that helps others and utilize my passion for technology is a dream!

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

The NTEN communities are awesome! Nonprofits often have challenges that for-profits may not. It is always helpful to be able to communicate with others who are dealing with the same challenges and often the same limited budgets.

What tech tool could you not live without?

Office 365 has become my favorite tool over the years. We migrated in 2014, and I have never looked back. It has been a game changer for our organization and enabled our communication and collaboration solutions to become less fragmented.

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

Psychology was my first love. Technology sort of fell into my lap, and I ran with it. I do find that all those psychology classes in college now play an integral part in dealing with so many different personalities throughout the day and understanding what makes each person tick.

Raquel has been an NTEN member since 2009.

Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.

I am the Digital Fundraising and Media Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. My job has shifted in the past year, and now my primary focus is our peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, online marketing, and graphic design within the organization. I build and manage campaigns on Blackbaud’s TeamRaiser and everydayhero, mostly, though have started to implement Facebook fundraisers into my P2P portfolio. It’s been quite the adventure to explore the different ways to inspire a community of caring people to fight hunger in ways that empower them!

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

I grew up as a food bank statistic. I was a child in a poor family who didn’t always know where their next meal was coming from, and more often than not, it was calorie-rich foods lacking in nutrition. As an adult, I now have the power to create change for others in similar situations, and I love working for an organization that feels as passionately as I do about making sure hunger is no longer a problem in our community. Not only can I be a part of the change to end hunger, but I get to be a part of the change that gives families access to healthier choices, too.

Melissa and her coworkers at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

I love the camaraderie and openness that is NTEN. The moment I joined the forums last year, I felt welcomed and at home. There was so much to learn and I was warmed by the patience that each person provided when I was feeling lost or didn’t understand something. Since becoming a member, I love all the great workshops and content, and all the opportunities to learn something new or new ways to think about something old.

What tech tool could you not live without?

While it’s not fancy, it is foundational. I cannot live without some sort of organizational tool. Right now I use Asana with my team to see what projects are coming up, what’s due when, who is doing what. My ability to focus can be abysmal sometimes, so I like the email reminders it sends me to keep me on track, and it helps my team as a whole keep each other accountable. At its core, it is a lifesaver! (At least, until my boss agrees to get me a personal assistant, ha! #workgoals.)

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

I call myself a left-handed, dual brained Renaissance woman because I enjoy being both analytical and creative. I love learning new things, exploring new ways of doing things, and I love being creative in both thought and application. I’m a bit of an extroverted introvert, so I love meeting new people and talking in front of people, but I’m also extremely awkward and terrified of both. The most surprising thing about me, though? My favorite color is glitter, and yes, before you try to argue, glitter IS a color.

Melissa has been an NTEN member since 2017.

Aaron Tebrinke has been an NTEN member since 2012.

Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.

I’m the Multimedia Specialist for Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois and live in the Illinois capitol city. In July, I will have been working with the sisters for six years in the Communications Department. It’s a perfect environment for a person like me that values learning and my passion to continuously improve my skills. I’ve been able to use my education and expertise nearly every day—a rare thing for many people these days.

Prior to my nonprofit technology role with the sisters, I spent 10 years in various technology-centered roles in journalism, GIS, graphic/web design, economic development, technical assistance for music gear, and print publishing.

What motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?

When I am committed to something it comes from a deeper desire than just a steady paycheck. I am motivated by unwavering values: integrity, truthfulness, and loyalty. I get great satisfaction from being busy and productive as long as the work allows me time for introspection and involves intellectual discussions about the big picture.

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

quote: I am continually amazed at the wealth of knowledge that is in the NTEN community and how open the members are.I attended my fifth Nonprofit Technology Conference this year in New Orleans and loved the WordPress day just as much as the overall conference. It always feels like a homecoming celebration and series of indispensable rolling master classes.

It’s been truly a community to me and I always look forward to connecting with other like-minded individuals who understand the specialized difficulties and remarkable benefits of the nonprofit world. In a digital or actual meet-up I am continually amazed at the wealth of knowledge that is in the NTEN community and how open the members are to help solve problems, share insights, or give supportive feedback. There are so many experts that are sharing best practices and it is humbling how accessible they are. It’s empowering to feel like I don’t need to reinvent the wheel for elaborate campaigns or projects because of the community.

Tell us about a recent win (professional or personal).

Over the past few years we have made a lot of advances with our digital strategy and overall technology goals. As we have grown and expanded I have found it very satisfying to advance the sister’s mission with technology in various ways. Specifically, I was able pull off a redesign of the main website after a lengthy web discovery process. The biggest win for me is the chapel audio tour landing page that was a labor of love involving video, audio production, featured interviews, photography, and print media. The chapel audio tour was completed just before National Catholic Sisters Week and I was able to secure a mini-grant to pay for all of the equipment expenses.

The next step is to focus on the donor’s online journey with the hope that we can get donors and supporters to move from being occasional collaborators to becoming partners in the mission.

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

Very shortly after I finished my Nonprofit Technology Professional Certificate I was offered a job because I added the certification on my LinkedIn page. A friend noticed it and alerted the person hiring for the job. They reached out to me and out of curiosity I went to a couple of interviews before I felt like it wasn’t the right fit. Regardless of the outcome, the certification was the center of topic to get the initial interview and certainly peaked the recruiter’s interest. Since then the certification courses have been helpful for me in myriad ways.

Lisa Jervis has been an NTEN member since 2014.

Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.

I am one-half of Information Ecology, a two-person consultancy that helps organizations answer overall questions of “What do we need from our information systems and how can we get it?” That means looking not only at software features but also at the human practices that have to go alongside any piece of technology to ensure that you actually get the outcomes you need from it.

Concretely it’s a lot of asking questions about what is and isn’t working in given area (e.g., CRM, shared files, project management), organizing what folks say into a combination of process recommendations and software features that can be evaluated, having a series of discussions about pros and cons of different scenarios, and writing up plans and documentation.

I’ve been consulting for almost 4 years now and doing ops work, including tech management, for more than 20.

What motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?

So many things! Most of the people I work with are social justice organizers, so being able to concretely support movements for racial, economic, and gender justice is why I do what I do. Second is that strong operations (and for me that includes technology management as well as finance, HR, office management, facilities, all the stuff that is too often dismissed as “overhead”) make up the container that all the program work fits into. When your container is not strong enough, things fall out and break. Our sector can’t afford to have broken programs. Standing up for the importance of the container is one of my personal life missions. Aaaaaand I just get to nerd out a lot about things like faceted classification and usability heuristics.

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

I love all the discussion lists and how easy it is to seek support from and exchange ideas with the community. And connecting with fellow ops nerds.

What tech tool could you not live without?

Totally banal but Google Calendar + Calendly. I would not know where to be or what to do without my calendar, and Calendly is scheduling software that helps me avoid the dreaded back and forth about times that work.

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

Aqua aerobics is my new jam. A friend of mine got me into it and now we are at the Y together two mornings a week doing underwater jumping jacks and singing along to 80s pop.

Contessa Siegner has been an NTEN member since 2016.

What’s your current position?

I’m the IT Director at Proverbs 31 Ministries and live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been at Proverbs 31 Ministries for three and a half years and I oversee all technology at Proverbs 31 and have been in the IT & Web industry for over 15 years. Prior to my role here, I spent 13 years at Cisco Systems in Raleigh, North Carolina in various IT roles.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

I love working at Proverbs 31 Ministries and using my gifts and talents for an organization that I believe in wholeheartedly. We’ve experienced tremendous growth in the past few years and I enjoy setting new strategic technology goals as we grow and expand.

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

I had the honor of attending my first Nonprofit Technology Conference last year in DC and loved connecting with other individuals who also work in the technical field of nonprofits. It is so good to share ideas and best practices. I love that I can throw out a question to our NTEN community about a problem that I am trying to solve and hear feedback and solutions that have already been implemented.

Tell us about a recent win (professional or personal).

We just recently rolled out a new website that will allow us to offer up our content in better ways. We are working on a phase 2 which will improve our search to offer up opportunities for people to find content even easier. We are super excited about this initiative.

What tech tool could you not live without?

Evernote.

What’s a nonprofit tech-related tip have you learned recently that has blown your mind?

Not exactly mind-blowing, but I love it when we learn of new ways to integrate tools to give us a better picture of our constituents.

LaMont Sledge has been an NTEN member since 2016. 

What’s your current position?

My current position is Communications Specialist Team Leader at The Saint Paul’s Baptist Church (SPBC), a mega-church located in Richmond, VA. I started at SPBC as a volunteer more than 15 years ago. Today, most of my time is spent brand building using print, video, and online platforms.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

I’m very passionate about my design work. I love taking a project from idea to fruition that creates movement in people. Either through a piece to assist a person in taking their next step in their spiritual journey or connecting a consumer to engage with a client of mine through a branded piece I created. I love it when a client or colleague of mine light up from something I created or the eyes of a student that pop open when they get a technique or lesson I taught. It is a renewing feeling that pushes me to the next project.

What’s your favorite aspect of NTEN? What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

NTEN is a good fit for me because I’m able to draw from the masses when solving day-to-day problems, and in return, I can provide expertise and industry knowledge to others in need. I believe wholeheartedly that “the more we support each other, the stronger the team is as a whole.” I’m glad to be part of my newest team, NTEN. When I’m online, you will be sure to find me actively participating in any discussion where I feel I might be able to make a significant contribution.

What tech tool could you not live without?

Although there are many tools I use to create, there is only one that I feel is impossible to live without and that’s my Adobe Creative Suite. Using Adobe Creative Suite has given me many wins with the time-saving efficiency of the program. My most memorable win was creating an entire annual report in under two weeks time. I love it so much I served as an adjunct professor, teaching Adobe Creative Suite. I don’t want you to think it is a miracle program because I believe that technical execution of a program is mute without the fundamental principles of design, and I emphasized that with every class I taught.

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

That I’m a cheerleader. That is right! I am the head cheerleader for Team Sledge which consists of my wife of almost 17 years and my two daughters. I never miss an opportunity to tell anyone about how proud I am of them and their accomplishments.

Melissa Berrett has been an NTEN member since 2012.

What’s your current position?

I’m the Director of Information Technology at the OHSU Foundation. I oversee a talented group of technicians responsible for maintaining our information systems and keeping our end users happy. I’m the internal IT solutions consultant and compliance officer. I provide strategic IT direction while keeping security risks at bay. Lastly, as part of the OHSU Foundation’s philanthropy focus, I collaborate with my colleagues throughout the organization to drive business intelligence and analytics technology.

Prior to my role at the foundation, I worked in in health care IT for more than 12 years managing and leading all technical operations and strategic decisions for nursing homes, home health, hospice, therapy and pharmacies. I came to the OHSU Foundation inspired to be involved in a not-for-profit organization while staying close to health care IT. What a deal!

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

I enjoy lots of outdoor activities so I often compare my IT motivation to climbing a mountain. Just when you get to the top and celebrate, you realize you are only half way done with your climb. Things are always changing in IT and I never want to feel stagnant or “done.” In IT, it’s so important to always be looking forward to what my team and I can accomplish to help the Foundation meet and further its mission. I like to stay curious and never settle for packaged solutions. If I always strive to keep aligning the Foundation’s IT strategy with its mission, we will continue to be successful.

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

My favorite part about NTEN is the discussion boards for peer groups. I’m not an accidental techie that NTEN sometimes refers to; I was a true corporate techie in health care for more than a decade before switching to a not-for-profit, but once I crossed over I had a lot to learn. The NTEN members truly helped shape the not-for-profit tech landscape for me quickly, answering my questions in the forums and always with a friendly and collaborative style!

Tell us about a recent win (professional or personal).

We’ve always been a remote work environment using Citrix to serve up our applications to the end users, but Citrix can get limited. This year we provided iPad Pros to all of our fundraisers with the capability to use MS Remote desktop to log in to their devices from anywhere. We also opted for the Apple keyboards. This was a game changer for our staff and has truly helped our remote work be done more efficiently and, most importantly, securely.

We also implemented data visualization in 2017 using Tableau. What I thought was going to be a slow adoption became rapid because we partnered with a few operational gurus that had a vision for how to use data to answer questions. For example, we are now using data visualization to track donor behavior on our website.

What tech tool could you not live without?

There are so many to choose from! My iPad Pro is attached to my hip. It’s light weight, the larger screen is nice for spreadsheet work and I can do anything I need to from this device. The system admin in me appreciates RedGate for database monitoring and failed job notifications.

What nonprofit tech-related tip have you learned recently that has blown your mind?

I recently learned that there’s already a tool out there for mailing list management! We were looking at internal development, but this opportunity could help us immensely.

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

I have partial degrees in Environmental Science and Biology. Before switching my career path to IT (after taking 1 COBOL class), I thought I was going to enter into environmental law and conservation.

Stuart McClain has been an NTEN member since 2015.

What’s your current position?

I’ve been a Controller for about 2 years as a full-time employee and part-time for the previous 3 years, for a total of 3 years. I am responsible for all the accounting and financial reporting. Internally I have done some basic IT support on-premises along with our outside support. With our new CEO has come increased transparency and a more involved board. As a result, new reports and information have had to be generated and that has fallen to me. I also do payroll and most of the internal operations.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

I LOVE using technology to accomplish goals, to help support people succeed and do better. It really gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can use technology to solve a problem.

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

I would have to say the people: great peer support. Not just about technology answers – but the fact that everyone has a fairly common use base – nonprofit – so they understand what each other want and need better. So being able to ask questions on best practices or recommendations has been a great value.

What’s a nonprofit tech-related tip have you learned recently that has blown your mind?

Not sure this is so much a tip but thanks to all the sharing by NTEN members, I have managed to find a lot of low or no-cost tech tools for nonprofits. One of these was Canva; my boss had just wanted to design a flyer with a collage of photos for our new capital campaign. This tool let me easily insert photos into a flyer much faster than any of the other tools I had been using.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I help my 88-year-old mother and usually take her to a movie most every weekend to get her out other than to doctors appointments. I am a geek, so I also spend a lot of time reading about tech and learning how to use software—new software or new ways to use existing software.

Lanette Rivera has been an NTEN member since 2017.

What’s your current position? Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.

I am currently the Development and Communications Associate at Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, Southern Nevada’s most comprehensive service provider for homeless youth. I started as a volunteer for NPHY about 5 years ago while I was working as a communications facilitator in the corporate sector handling external and internal communications, social media management, and event planning. After two years of volunteering, I decided I should put my skills, education, and expertise to use in the nonprofit sector. I applied, interviewed, and tested for the job; three years later, I am getting paid for something I once did in my free time.

I currently handle all NPHY’s media, public relations, event planning, social media management, volunteer engagement, donor cultivation, marketing, community relations, and so much more. (I had no idea what I was getting myself into when leaving the corporate sector for nonprofit.)

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?

Working with homeless youth is rewarding, frustrating, and motivating, all in the same breath. I was once 18 years old and in a very similar place of many of the youth I see every day here at NPHY. I luckily had family and friends who supported me and got me to a better place, where I was able to eventually finish college and pursue my dreams.

The frustrating part is that there are many misconceptions about homeless youth and people often think we are dealing with young kids not wanting to listen to authority. In reality and more often than not, the youth we see have become homeless at no fault of their own, due to them running away from abuse and neglect. Clearing up that misconception always feels good.

The part that is most rewarding and motivating is that as a communications person, I get to tell these youths’ stories. Often with a tragic beginning but never without the beauty of the resilience and hope. Every day, I see youth persevering and creating their own pathway to their dreams. I feel lucky to be able to share these stories every day and spread awareness about a cause that is truly changing lives.

What’s your favorite aspect of NTEN? What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

Oh, NTEN, you are all my favorite! I went to my first NTEN conference this year and was lured in by all of the energy and instantly wanted to be more involved. On a local level, sometimes there is a competitive nature between nonprofits rather than the collaborative environment. That collaborative environment has been my favorite aspect, as well as the most helpful aspect. I’ve been able to reach out to a few people I met during the sessions to ask advice and to help with ideation. I know that if I get stuck or need advice, I can reach hundreds of people through the online community. It’s amazing!

Tell us about a recent win (professional or personal).

My organization is hosting a Youth Homelessness Summit here in Las Vegas to discuss the issue within our community and all of the intersections correlated to youth homelessness such as sex trafficking, immigration, education, and LGBTQ. This is a HUGE win, as it is something that our community desperately needs. As a communications professional, this event will not only elevate the issue and the needed community attention but it will also highlight my organization as a leader in resolving this issue. It’s the best PR and external communications our organization could achieve and I am so proud to be a part of it.

What tech tool could you not live without?

Canva has saved my life! My position requires some graphic design work and I couldn’t have done it in the beginning without Canva. Now, I have learned the InDesign ropes but Canva was an initial life saver.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I spend most of my time outside of work traveling, boxing, visiting different museums, reading, playing with my baby, Lucy the Yorkie, and attending any kind of live music shows.

What might the NTEN community be surprised to know about you?

I am a HUGE hip-hop connoisseur. If you walk by my office, I may have some Beats on my head, blasting Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, MF Doom, etc. In my opinion, many hip-hop artists, like nonprofits, are bringing awareness to the systemic issues plaguing our communities, many of the issues that you, me, and everyone within our nonprofit community are fighting for on the ground level. On the weekends, you’ll always catch me at a good hip-hop show!

 

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Emilio Arocho has been an NTEN member since 2010.

What’s your current position? Give us a brief overview of what you do in your work.

I’ve worked at the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) since May 2016, and was promoted to Director, Technology and Digital Strategy in March 2017. FDLI is a nonprofit membership organization that offers education, training, publications, and professional engagement opportunities in the field of food and drug law. Our office is based in Washington, DC and we have 17 employees.

At FDLI I’m responsible for overseeing how we operate digitally, as well as our IT infrastructure. This has meant introducing a lot of technology change in the last 16 months, to both meet an immediate need to modernize our online presence as well as anticipate more long-term requirements and create opportunities to improve the digital aspect of our business.

I’ve had a lot of fun! In the last year and a half, FDLI has:

  • Relaunched our website on the WordPress platform, introducing mobile responsiveness, SSL encryption, and SEO features.
  • Migrated our CRM database and association management system (AMS) to the Salesforce platform.
  • Acquired a Google Ad Grant, set up analytics tracking across our website and member portal, and finalized our implementation of Google Tag Manager.
  • Reduced our monthly IT operating costs by 50% by migrating to Microsoft Office 365 and Azure.
  • Put together a bold plan to shore up our data analytics and construct at least one predictive model using machine learning and Microsoft Power BI by the end of 2017.

FDLI is in a great phase right now in which we have an abundance of new ways to optimize our services delivery and increase our online reach. I largely attribute this to our adoption of leading-edge technologies that have agility and innovation baked into them, as well as the collaborative team atmosphere among staff.

Tell us about a recent win (professional or personal).

The FDLI website relaunch was a real triumph over adversity! The project took four months, and we primarily relied on internal resources to get it done, so our expenses totaled less than $1000. By adopting the WordPress platform, we could scale down our web server while also getting better performance from it. The cost savings on our web hosting meant the website relaunch effectively paid for itself in four months, while introducing new critically important features.

We encountered a major setback when our previous ailing website platform ceased to work correctly a month before our target launch date. Our solution was to create an interim WordPress website, theming it to appear indistinguishable from the old one, within 36 hours. It was an ambitious idea, but we got it done and the website relaunch still completed on-time!

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?

I am so encouraged by the scrappiness of the nonprofit community. I’ve solely worked in this field since graduating college nine years ago, and never regretted it for a minute. There are lots of inspiring stories on NTEN and elsewhere of people doing interesting work in service of important causes. Sometimes I get to talk to those people. And sometimes I get to work directly alongside them!

Aside from the mission component of nonprofit work, the teams I’ve had the privilege to work with in my career have been critical to staying motivated. The FDLI staff is an excellent example. The fact that our organization has seen so much enhancement in the digital area is as much attributable to everyone as it is to me. We do an excellent job of rolling our sleeves up and getting stuff done with good humor and positive attitudes!

Nonprofit technology can be a demanding field in which stakeholders expect great outcomes with little financial investment, and they needed them yesterday. At the same time, cloud services are becoming more and more turnkey. The biggest tech companies are pledging considerable resources to nonprofit organizations. I’m tempted to say the days of telling people “fast, good, or cheap: pick two” are over. We can have it all.

It’s an exciting time to deliver innovative technology solutions. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing the impossible!

What’s been the most helpful for you about being in the NTEN member community?

I love the NTEN online groups. I consider it part of my job to monitor and be a part of the discussions about data, WordPress and anything digital. I’ve gotten so much perspective, and frequently find that discussions in the online groups parallel work concerns I’m currently mulling over, providing great insight.

I hope people know how immeasurably valuable their participation on those online groups is. You may answer someone’s question and get one or two thank-yous, but I assure you many more people have read that conversation and gotten something out of it. I try to make it a point to chime in when I read an instructive discussion, but like everyone else, sometimes I’m just too busy. Because of that, the full value of your contributions might not be immediately obvious to you.

What nonprofit tech-related tip have you learned recently that has blown your mind?

I only realized in the last several years of my career how important project management skills are to any technology job. I wish I had known sooner! Studying project management has been easy. There are a lot of great resources out there, including NTEN’s courses, Lynda.com videos, and the Project Management Institute.