A new series for us, we are highlighting one Fíontan per month and digging deep to learn more about their professional background and what keeps them energized outside of work. Julia Kelmers was our first volunteer, and she wins the coveted spot of “Featured Fíontan”!
You came to Fíonta earlier this year, having worked at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Central Office of Advancement. What inspired you to move to Fíonta?
I learned two things about myself at the Smithsonian:
- First, I’m not motivated by a specific mission. In my time there I worked with over 28 museums and research centers and loved them all equally. I get the same joy out of supporting arts and education, as I do for science and history.
- Second, I discovered I loved technology and its ability to make organizations’ missions more impactful. Managing CRM systems and data was my absolute jam! I love how it tests your problem-solving skills and pushes you to be creative.
Fíonta is the perfect marriage of these two things: “Technology as a force for change.”
But, equally as important as above, I knew Fíonta had the type of culture I wanted to be a part of. In my previous jobs, I was privileged to work with colleagues who had bright minds, stellar work ethic, and kind dispositions. It was key that my future coworkers would be the same.
Does one project that you’ve managed here at Fíonta stand out as particularly meaningful to you? Why?
I’m currently working with a Southern Baptist group to migrate their legacy data system to Salesforce. Their problems are multifaceted, and our solutions are technically complex. We’ve had to be creative to find ways to minimize costs. The project isn’t over, but I love a challenge, and I’m proud of how it’s going.
But the best part about this project is how it’s helped me develop as a person. My preconceived notions about people, and assumptions of their values, have be challenged again and again. I’m thankful to learn and grow, and to make friendships outside of my bubble.
What do you bring to Fíonta and to each project that’s unique to you?
This answer is perhaps too literal, but I manage my project’s tasks and budgets in a particular and detailed way. My goal in running projects like this is twofold:
- First, I want to give my Fíonta teammates visibility into the project without adding to their workloads. At any point, I want them to be able to see what is coming down the pike so they can modify their approaches and solutions accordingly.
- Second, I want clients to understand both where we are in their budget today and where we’ll end up. This information helps our partners (re)prioritize throughout their project’s lifecycle and prevents us from experiencing any surprises.
It’s all about transparency!
Are there one or two Fíonta core values that resound the most for you?
“Do what’s right, even when difficult.” Projects go better when you pay attention to the uncomfortable bits: prioritizing work to stay within budget, knowing when to pause to regroup, asking for (and internalizing) feedback, and raising your hand for help. All of these things push you professionally and challenge you personally. I’m glad to work at a place that emphasizes doing the right thing over doing the easy thing.
When you’re not leading projects to a successful outcome, what are your favorite things to do?
I love walking in Rock Creek Park with my dog Sparty, checking out consignment stores, sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car while she runs errands around town, doing jigsaw puzzles, and dancing with friends.
Coffee or tea?
Sometimes tea, but most often just a mason jar of hot water (I don’t know how this started).
Dogs or cats?
I have a dog, but I am an equal-opportunity animal lover!
Nats or Redskins?
N-A-T-S NATS NATS NATS! WOO!*
My dad was one of the architects who worked on Nats Park. Growing up, he always worked insane hours, and I didn’t get to see him much. Nats Park is one of the few domestic/local projects he has had. When it opened, I taught myself to keep score to find a way to be in the stadium where he had spent so much time.
Also, a few years back, I started working for the Nats Entertainment Team part-time. If you’re ever at a game, look for me running around the concourse or up on the scoreboard.
Beaches or mountains?
Beaches. I’m a warm-weather person.
Favorite nut butter?
Sunflower butter** or chunky peanut.
* I’m fundamentally opposed to the Redskins because of their name and ownership (also, I don’t understand football).
** When asked about sunflower butter, Julia’s response was, “Sunflower butter tastes exactly like both peanut butter and sunflower seeds. How it does both? I know not.”