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5-min read
January 24, 2022

9 Community Managers Share Their Career Highlights and Who Inspired Them Along the Way

As you probably already know, here at Commsor and The Community Club, we’re just a little obsessed with communities and the people who run them.

This is why Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD) is a particularly meaningful day for us — an opportunity to celebrate those who devote immeasurable amounts of time and effort to growing and nurturing the communities they manage.

If we could have it our way, every day of the year would be CMAD — for all you do, it’s the least you deserve.

If you want to show your fave CM some love today, we've got some pretty neat greeting cards that could help! Scroll on to save them.

Back to all the things CMs do: we asked nine community professionals to share their career highlights and the community leaders who have inspired them along the way.

Here’s what and who they’re celebrating this CMAD.

Willa Tellekson-Flash, Director of Community at Public

Willa Tellekson-Flash, Community Operations Manager at Public on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“Officially, I've been working in Community Management for two years, but I've been thinking about building community for much longer than that — a trait that I think is shared among those who work in Community.

The biggest highlight for me has been witnessing how the Public community has positively impacted our members — everything from building confidence in themselves as an investor to being able to put down a downpayment on a home.”

CMs who inspire me

“A community leader I admire deeply is Reina Pomeroy, who I think has a gift for creating safe, inclusive environments for people to talk about sensitive, personal topics.

The thoughtfulness she has put into building community echoes out into the community she's built, where members take accountability for upholding the type of environment that has been built.”

Jocelyn Hsu, Senior Manager, Creator Community at Picsart

Jocelyn Hsu, Senior Manager, Creator Community at Picsart on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I've been working full-time as a community professional for about 5 years and had been working part-time and as a volunteer community moderator for many years before that.

My biggest highlights so far have been working with and mentoring other community professionals.

During my first year or so of doing this full-time, I didn't realize there were entire communities of community professionals so it's great to be here with other community builders to help each other grow. I love the days when I get to chat with different people within the community.”

CMs who inspire me

“There are so many, I honestly don't know how to choose just one, so here's a long list of community people that inspire me (and even this list is probably missing some people):

These are all people who have willingly and happily shared their experiences and knowledge with me and many others. They're all pushing our industry forward and I deeply admire that. It also inspires me to share my learnings with others.”  

Gabrielle Leith, Community Manager at Bramble

Gabrielle Leith, Community Manager at Bramble on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I will have officially had the title of Community Manager for 2 years in March 2022. In retrospect, I think I've been doing it unofficially for a lot longer though.

One of my favorite parts about being the Community Manager at Bramble is the freedom I have to play.

My bosses encourage me to think outside the box when it comes to events so we can learn, learn, learn. I've done everything on Bramble from immersive theatre to an ASMR [an event focused on audio stimuli that give people a calm, satisfied feeling] event to a multi-disciplinary art festival.

Last winter I started a comedy series in partnership with the Brooklyn Comedy Collective. The series got the attention of the New York Times comedy writer and was featured in this essay.

That was a hugely monumental career moment for me. It was exciting because — duh — it was the New York Times! But also because at that point I was unsure how willing people were to trust me enough to hop onto a completely new technology, potentially sort through a bug or two, and then embrace a purely online experience when their hearts were still very much IRL. It felt like an encouraging moment of recognition for what was actually possible."

CMs who inspire me

Augustine Nthenge. I don't think I've met anyone else who likes to nerd out on community management with me as much as him.

I asked Augustine to be on the advisory committee for the Bramble Community I recently launched on Circle and he approached it with such thoughtfulness and expertise. He's an incredible connector, he has introduced me to many wonderful communities and other community folks.

He's super supportive of what people are working on, always shows up to events with genuine interest, is always willing to lend his time and knowledge, and brings positive energy to everything he does.”

Jacob Gross, Community Manager at Slack

Jacob Gross, Community Manager at Slack on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I've been in Community for almost a year and a half, after having pivoted to the space from higher education.

It's incredibly rewarding to be part of an industry that focuses on bringing people together. From sharing customer stories to developing leadership programs, and even the impromptu catch-up sessions with community members; it's brought me so much joy.”

CMs who inspire me

“Although we've only crossed paths on Twitter, Rosie Sherry is one of many Community Managers who inspire me.

Rosie not only encourages fellow CMs to think outside the box, but she also provides tons of insightful Community learnings that CMs can take with them and implement in their own organizations. Thank you, Rosie!”

Naya Joseph, Community Events Manager at Commsor

Naya Joseph, Community Events Manager at Commsor on Community manager Appreciation Day

“I've been in community event management full-time for over one year now, though it was always an aspect of my previous roles (both formally and informally).  

My biggest highlights so far have been planning and hosting a three-day virtual summit for Black and Latinx computer science college students, witnessing my virtual events facilitate IRL hangouts and friendships, and hosting events that have helped people inch closer to their personal and professional goals.”

CMs who inspire me

Angie Ortiz was in the first Community Manager role on the ColorStack team and though her role has since shifted and expanded, the way she led with a combination of authenticity, empathy, and humility is truly inspiring.

She's been able to really connect with the community of students and build genuine, trusting relationships while keeping students engaged with her lighthearted humor.

Her commitment to the community isn't just talk — it's action-based and rooted in passion & a community-first mindset. It was honestly a joy and an honor to work alongside her in my first community event management role and her community management style has definitely inspired my approach to my new role at Commsor.”

Tristan Lombard, Director of Community at Provar

Tristan Lombard, Director of Community at Provar on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I have been building community programs in the non-profit sector, mainly as a social worker, since 2010. I then pivoted to test automation and community building in January of 2018.

The highlight has been a reminder that you can always bring your values into any sector you go to.

My number one passion is creating customer product groups where all customers can feel that they have a virtual seat at the product table. This was a response to my first tech role and seeing the lack of diversity there. I committed to changing that and it has also become a great way to identify current and future customer champions.

As a Director of Community at Provar, in addition to building product groups, I also still enjoy building customer ambassador programs, technical forums for devs and engineers, creating and producing events in our meet-up group, and creating Community-Led content with our members.”

CMs who inspire me

Grace Francisco, VP of DevRel and Education at Cisco. I met her years ago at a Women in Leadership: Brave Conversations event that I produced and was in awe of her background, coming from poverty, and learning how to code.

She's since taken her values in inclusion and innovation into leadership and scaled global teams. But she's also playful, inclusive, has heart, and vision. We're friends and she’s someone that I look up to every day.”

Hayley Rosenblum, Head of Online Community at Patreon

Hayley Rosenblum, Head of Online Community at Patreon on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I have been in community since I was a teenager and have had the unique pleasure of being involved in all stages of community management: as a self-organized fan, as a member of an artist team (or a specific community), and as a professional working on behalf of a community platform.

My first job in this space was out of college when I was handpicked to intern in Amanda Palmer's manager's office, specifically to help with her community and bridge the gap between online community building and direct-to-fan efforts, and the more traditional music business part of organizing each part of her career.

All this to say, there have been so many highlights for me throughout the years.

Some of the things I'm most proud of include are authoring and moderating a panel at SXSW, speaking about community building at various conferences, breaking crowdfunding records with Amanda Palmer (which resulted in her independently released album, Theatre Is Evil debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart in 2012), and the various projects I've been a part of that demonstrated just how powerful an organized fan community can be.

Some of my favorite personal moments have come from interacting with and meeting community members in real life, especially at events after years of corresponding virtually, so that's something I'm looking forward to when IRL events resume.”

CMs who inspire me

Danielle Maveal inspires me greatly, she's a community builder in the truest way and excels at building community among other Community Managers.

She hosts a weekly online gathering for community professionals called "community support sessions" and has expertly crafted these sessions to be a part support group, part networking group, part gut-check, all fully inspiring.

She has so many years of experience working in community with different online companies, which are now that are household names. It's been a pleasure getting to know her over this last year. She is very generous in sharing lessons she's learned along the way and is a super-connector, she knows so many folks in this field that chances are if you are dealing with a headscratcher, she knows someone to connect you with who has experience with that very challenge. She's a total joy to chat with and is the CM's CM!”

Izzy Ortiz, Community Manager at The Community Club

Izzy Ortiz, Community Manager at The Community Club on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I have been in Community Management for a little under 9 months, but if we are talking about the many positions I held that were Community-Led, I would say about five years.

One of my biggest highlights was actually C School. I think once I finished C School it truly re-ignited the passion and drive I have for community building, creating connections, content creation, and just being a support to individuals.

The pandemic truly took a toll on my motivation and drive because of how disconnected I felt from building community, but then when I found community management (and with that, C School) that all changed.”

CMs who inspire me

“A community pro that inspires me is Noele Flowers. She is so knowledgeable and has the ability to truly teach community as if she has been doing it her whole life. I truly enjoyed my time in C School and I only dream of being half as awesome as Noele at helping other community builders.

Evan Patterson, Head of Content & Community at Trender

Evan Patterson, Head of Content & Community at Trender on Community Manager Appreciation Day

“I've been in community management off and on in various forms and industries since my teen years, so a little over a decade at this point.

My biggest highlight would be, in my opinion, the success I've seen in Community-Led growth in various industries: gaming, virtual reality, insurance, financial services, personal brands, and early-stage tech startups. All this means, to me, is that Community-Led growth is an approach that virtually any organization or business can adapt to fit their needs and the needs of their audience.”

CMs who inspire me

“I'm heavily inspired by people like Zoe Hartsfield of Spekit and Daniel Cmejla of Chili Piper.

For me, their strategies are ones to aspire to, as they're both at later stage companies than I. However, the creativity and overall strategies they execute are ones that I've been able to learn from and adapt to my current needs at, a much earlier stage business in comparison.”

Community Manager Appreciation Day Greeting Cards

Do you want to show a Community Manager you appreciate them this CMAD? Send them one of our rawr-some greeting cards to make them feel extra special today. Just right-click to download and send on.

Pam Magwaza
January 24, 2022

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