Featured Fíontan: Meet Julia Kelmers

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?

My time at the Smithsonian taught me two major lessons:

  • First, I don’t find motivation from a specific mission. In my time there I worked with over 28 museums and research centers and loved them all the same. I get the same joy from supporting arts and education, as I do from 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, and it gave me the most happiness out of all my tasks. Databases and data test your problem-solving skills and push you to be creative every day.

Fíonta is the perfect marriage of these things: “Technology as a force for change.”

But, equally as important as above, I knew Fíonta was the type of work culture I wanted to be a part of. In my previous jobs, I had the privilege of working with colleagues who had bright minds, stellar work ethic, and kind dispositions. It was essential that my future colleagues 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 on a project supporting a southern Baptist group in migrating their legacy data system to Salesforce. Their problems are multifaceted, our solutions are technically complex, we’ve been creative in finding ways to keep costs low, and the client serves as a true and meaningful partner. The project isn’t over, but I love a challenge and I’m so proud of how it’s going!

This project has also helped me develop as a person. It’s been amazing to have my preconceived notions challenged in the best way possible! I’m thankful to get to work on this project so I can keep spending time and learning from people outside of my bubble.

What do you bring to Fíonta and to each project that’s unique to you?

This is perhaps too literal of an answer, but I manage my project’s tasks and budgets in a very particular and detailed way. My goal in running projects this way 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 work is coming down the pike so they can modify their approaches and solutions appropriately.
  • Second, I want clients to not only understand where we are in their budget, but where we think we’ll end up. This information helps clients (re)prioritize throughout the project’s lifecycle and prevents us from experiencing budget surprises!

It’s all about transparency!

Are there one or two Fíonta core values that resound the most for you?

I’ve been reflecting on recently is “do what’s right, even when difficult.” Projects do better when you pay attention to the uncomfortable bits: prioritizing work to stay within budget, knowing when to pause work to regroup, asking for (and internalizing!) feedback, raising your hand for help. All these things that take work in the professional and personal sense, but we’re better people for doing it. I’m glad to be part of an organization 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, going consignment shopping, sitting in the passenger seat as my mom runs errands around town, doing jigsaw puzzles, and dancing and singing with my friends.

Coffee or tea?

Sometimes tea, but most likely a mason jar of hot water (I don’t know how this one started).

Dogs or cats?

I have two dogs but 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 the stadium. Growing up, he worked insane hours and I didn’t see him much. Nats Park is one of the few domestic (much less local!) projects he had. So, when the new stadium opened, I decided to teach myself baseball how to keep score just to find a way to be in the stadium.

A few years back I ended up working for the Washington Nationals as part of their entertainment team. 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 b/c of their name and ownership (also I don’t understand football). I’d change this to favorite hometown team!

** When asked about sunflower butter, Julia’s response was “sunflower butter tastes exactly like peanut butter and exactly like sunflower seeds. how it does both? I know not”