Have you always wanted to work in Communications? How did you get here?
I came to communications really by chance – after serving in an admin assistant/secretary capacity for a few years, I landed a position as the admin assistant to the Communications team at Tacoma Public Schools. It was a great way to serve students without being in the classroom (teachers are AMAZING, but I’m not built to be one!) and I was fascinated by everything I was learning.
My undergraduate degree is actually in Chemistry with the original intention of going into the medical field – thankfully, I quickly realized that wasn’t the right fit for me! I’ve worked for non-profits, within education, and in the finance side of things. Amidst the variety, the constant in my career “path” has been – and remains–the strong desire to help and serve others.
What brought you to ESD 112 Communications department from Tacoma?
When we decided to move from Tacoma to Vancouver to be closer to family, the communications team at ESD112 came highly recommended, and by chance there happened to be an open position when I was looking for jobs!
I started at the ESD in January 2020 and then March 2020 happened. Our schools needed more support than our current team could provide, so I started helping out with comms for one of our smallest school districts. I now also serve as a communications manager to 3 of our smaller districts and spend most of my comms manager time writing their newsletters.
How has working for ESD 112 affected you creatively, personally and professionally?
I inherited both a very analytical, math-focused, type A brain AND a creative brain from my parents, but I like what I call “structured creativity” instead of blank pages. My role on the ESD Comms team feeds these two very different sides well – the administrative and billing side loves all the organization needs and working in Excel, while the communications manager side gets to explore more in structured creative writing and a little bit of design.
Sometimes a job can be stressful even when you love what you do (hello global pandemic!), and I’ve always found creating things helps me manage stress. Some of my favorite creative outlets are knitting, sewing, diamond painting and puzzles. These last few years I’ve discovered a real love for sewing and quilting, and have been having a blast making quilts or other handmade things for some very special kiddos and people in my life. I also love to curl up and escape into a great book with a good mug of my favorite chai latte.
What are the most fulfilling and most challenging parts of your work at ESD112?
I manage all of the billing and contracts for our department, so I honestly really enjoy digging into my massive spreadsheets and updating these trackers each month. I can easily pull up how many hours our team has worked, how much revenue we’ve brought in, comparisons year-to-year or month-to-month. Numbers bring me joy 🙂
A more challenging part of my job is usually the “herding cats” portion – whether it’s gathering information for newsletters or herding the team 😉 It can be challenging not being physically in the districts to hear about cool things happening, and to rely on others to share the information with us.
What kind of communications project do you most enjoy executing?
I love seeing a newsletter come together with the layout (thank you, Melissa!). From getting a topic or a person to talk to from the superintendent, to tracking down and then writing up the information, to finding pictures, to seeing it all together in a well laid out and graphically pleasing way is a very rewarding project!
Also, color-coded and beautifully aligned spreadsheets give me so much joy! 😀
What is your favorite way to receive information? What is your least favorite way?
I’m a list-maker and am all about checking things off. So, I need things in written form – emails are much preferred, and a great way for me to make sure the task gets completed.
I also am usually juggling multiple things at once almost all the time, so telling me something is passing is almost guaranteed to be the way for me to forget it – if you want it done, better also send me an email!
Where were you born, and why do you live where you do now?
I’m a born and raised western Washingtonian. And I’m not sure if I could live anywhere else, besides maybe western Oregon? I love to visit places, but am always drawn back home: to our mild climate, all the green and trees, the mountains and water. I even love the rain, but usually by February or March I’m ready for a few days of sunshine!
My husband, Matt, and I moved to Vancouver in January 2020 after being in the greater Tacoma area for the previous decade+. We bought our forever home in July 2020, a 1960 ranch with some interesting… character… so we’ve spent the last 3 years making it ours!
June 2023 we finally kicked off our “summer of chaos”: a gutted-to-the-studs and removing walls remodel of half our house to create a great room of our living areas. We’re incredibly excited for the end result and the immensely improved functionality of the new living space! Living through the remodel, not so much.
If you could interview any person, living or non-living, who would it be and what would you want to ask them?
Mia Hamm (retired) and Becky Sauerbrunn (current, and current Portland Thorn!) – US Women’s National Team soccer players.
They’ve been my heroes since I was young for who they are on and off the field and their leadership. I’d love to just hear about their experiences because they’ve both been key in the USWNT’s fight for pay equality and equity in sports. Plus, they’re both just badass players and I love (women’s) soccer!
Final question…if you had to get a tattoo, what would it be and why?
I don’t have a tattoo and am 99.9% sure I will never get one – I really, really, really dislike needles. Like enough that I pass out cold when I’ve had needles in me…. Plus, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a design that I’ve loved enough to have it permanently attached to me.
I love Sharpie “tattoos” (they fade in a few days) and I love hearing about other people’s tattoos though! The stories, the meaning behind them, the talent of the artist creating them – so fascinating! Just don’t make me watch it get done, or I’ll be on the floor!