Member Profile: Elyse Gordon

We are excited to introduce you Elyse Gordon, another fantastic member of our coworking community here on Capitol Hill!

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What are you passionate about?

I’m a connecter and community builder. I bring people together, and I’m passionate about engaging folks through meaningful connection, critical thinking, and food. I believe strongly that change occurs through relationships – so my work is to create the foundations and spaces for meaningful relationships to form. I’m committed to a social justice and equity lens in all that I do.

I am also passionate about grassroots philanthropy. I want everyone to feel invested in stretching themselves, and ideally, I hope they do so in a way that directs resources to communities most impacted by oppression and marginalization. It’s only one piece, but to me it is a vital component to long-term social change. (And if you’re not already following nonprofitwithballs.com, and you’re interested in social change, please sign up for Vu’s weekly newsletter.)

What are you working on right now?

I wear a LOT of hats. I’m in the final year of my dissertation at the University of Washington in the Geography department – I study the relationship between “social justice philanthropy” and poverty. In other words, I’m curious about how an alternative form of philanthropy, one that sees itself as the most radical and progressive form out there, conceptualizes and acts upon impoverishment. I’m most intrigued by how this impacts the individuals who actually participate as donors. I *don’t* love academic writing, and so writing the dissertation is a bit like pulling teeth! Every page a victory…

I’m far more excited about my teaching role at UW Bothell. I teach a range of classes in the school of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. I *love* my students and the enthusiasm they bring to learning. My students are highly engaged, have a huge range of life experiences and backgrounds, and always push me to see things differently.

And… I’m also a day-of wedding coordinator! I love helping couples be present to the celebrations and community they’ve gathered. Effectively, I’m the “executive producer” or stage manager for the wedding. It is such fun work, and a nice complement to the academic world I occupy most of the time.

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Do you have a fun story to share from your time at Office Nomads?

When I was workshopping a potential business idea a few years ago, Susan recommended I meet with her friend Lori. So, she introduced us, and Lori and I played email tag for a while. Finally, we met up in May of 2014, right before I took off to Amsterdam. Lori had loosely mentioned the house she rented out in the Central District neighborhood, and that I should check it out before I went because they hosted coworking too! Well, I was immediately besotted with the space.

When I returned from my travels, I was looking for housing. Moments before signing my lease agreement with a too-expensive-apartment, Lori emailed me to say a space was opening in her house, and did I want it? Lo and behold, in October 2014 I moved into Collective Self and ended up running the coworking community that also gathered in that space. I’ve never so immediately felt at home in a space – I’ll miss that house for a long time!

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I’m on the young professionals board of Crosscut.com. I believe in a well-informed public, and am eager to help diversify the audience of one of the NW’s most dynamic nonprofit journalism sources. Also, shoutout to South Seattle Emerald. If I had my way, everyone would support these two + KNKX and KEXP! Goooo public media!

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Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Elyse!

You can read more about Elyse’s academic work on her website, or if you’re in the market for a day-of wedding coordinator, head here.

Thanks so much to Marti Rhea for capturing Elyse so wonderfully on camera!

Member Profile: Tyler LePard

We’re going to keep this introduction short and sweet: we’re thrilled to introduce you to Tyler LePard, creator of Wondershop Communications and all-around kick-ass individual.

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What are you passionate about?

Doing good – locally, nationally, and globally – drives my work. I care about many issues related to social justice and fighting poverty, but advocating for women’s health and rights as been the main thread throughout my career. After college, I worked as a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood in Portland, then helped launch a reproductive health online publication (now called Rewire) after graduate school. I went on to do media and communications for international family planning and HIV prevention at a small nonprofit, then global health at a big foundation. I helped launch a new crowdfunding platform for girls’ and women’s equality for a couple of years before I decided to start my own independent consulting business.

I believe in the power of people working together, which is the essence of organizing, activism, social media, and coworking.

What are you working on right now?

I’m managing social media and digital ads for a new campaign from the Pride Foundation that I’m excited about. TRANSform Washington is a public education initiative celebrating the dignity, diversity, and humanity of transgender and gender nonconforming people in our state. The campaign has a lot of great stories from transgender people who are community volunteers, retirees, medical professionals, family members, and more. I’ve always felt strongly about social justice issues, so it’s fun to be able to blend my work and activism in this way.

Actually, I found this work through Office Nomads (Jacob and Katie connected me with their friend, who hired me). And another nomad (Kevin Owyang) built the website!

How did you get to where you are now?

I’ve worked some random jobs in my life (pizza delivery woman, grain elevator operator, White House intern, labor union organizer) and for a long time it didn’t seem like I was on a career path. I hate being asked where I see myself in five years because that hasn’t been how my career has evolved. (I also hate the question “What do you do?” as though my job is my life, but thankfully that doesn’t come up in Seattle as often as it did in DC.) I do like to occasionally sit down and map out dreams, big ideas, and potential directions for my life, and believe in the power of putting things out into the universe. But I also think being able to take the leap for unexpected opportunities has been what’s brought me to where I am now.

Freelancing has been great and terrible. It is stressful to not have financial stability (yet), but I do love the flexible schedule and ability to work with different people on interesting projects that I care about. And, of course, I love coworking. Thankfully, my wife has a steady job and has been incredibly supportive.

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Why coworking?

I appreciate the community at Office Nomads — that’s what keeps me coming back. It’s not just a nice space to work, though I like the free coffee and wifi, access to a printer/copier, snacks, etc. I didn’t realize that I was looking for and needed this network of people that I could bounce ideas off of, ask questions about freelancing and taxes, or know who to refer a client to for help building a website. Nomads are the best resources! I’ve found clients, a financial planner, an accountant, a hiking buddy, and friends here.

I also appreciate the programming — Waffle Wednesdays, Thursday afternoon snacks, field trips to interesting places, Spanish conversation lunch, and meditation are a few of my faves (yes, I like food). Some weeks I plan which days I’m going to come in around what’s on the calendar.

It’s terrific that Office Nomads is dog-friendly, even though I don’t bring my dogs in (they aren’t well-behaved enough). It makes me feel at home that I can go cuddle a dog when I need a break from my computer.

What is one thing about you most people don’t know?

I have a green belt in kajukenbo. I have been training for more than five years at Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu, which is another wonderful community that I love. I enjoy learning new things and getting exercise that is also a ton of fun. This year I’ve been learning to teach kung fu and I’m delighted to share my love of martial arts with new students.

I think it’s important for everyone to learn self-defense and I encourage everyone I know to take at least one class.

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Thank you Tyler for sharing your story with us and for being such an awesome part of our coworking community. Thanks also to Marti Rhea for sharing these beautiful member photos with us! Stay tuned for more…