Women's History Month Celebration

SparkOrange Team Spotlights

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As Women’s History Month begins we celebrate the contributions women have and continue to make to history, culture and society. This year our team has decided to celebrate by honoring all the absolutely amazing women that make up SparkOrange! Each week we will be featuring members of our team by recognizing their accomplishments, contributions and sharing a little Q&A.

Dena Moore, Executive Vice President

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

Professionally: I am about to graduate from a business program that was a big challenge for me both educationally and mentally. I had to dive right in and step far out of my comfort zone. I am very proud of my commitment and motivation to continue to challenge myself academically and professionally. Outside of my professional life, my two little boys will always be what I am most proud of.

What female inspires you and why?

Eleanor Roosevelt. I have always admired her and her willingness to go after her own goals in life. She was outspoken, intelligent and a beautiful writer. Her quote “Do one thing every day that scares you” is something I think about on an (almost) daily basis.

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

I have always been drawn to technology, even when I was young, my parents would always joke that I would end up in this space one day because chances are if it involved technology, I was always into the “latest and greatest” of it. I stumbled into Salesforce during grad school and have continued to be drawn back into it, not matter how hard I have tried to get out! A series of random gigs in other areas of technology expanded my knowledge base and exposure to what is out there and I am continually amazed at how diverse of an eco-system this space truly is.

As a woman, are there social, morale, etc. topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

I think that the IT space has made a lot of strides in building an inclusive environment for women to operate and succeed. I am hopeful that this will continue to grow and expand, particularly in regards to women in leadership and equal roles/pay as their male counterparts. It is incredibly intimidating being a female in a male dominated industry or working environment and it is very hard to make your voice heard when you’re a female leader in this space without a strong support system around you. I hope to continue to share my passion and successes in this space in the hopes of being part of that support system for other women who have similar aspirations

Anything you are a passionate about in your local community or actively involved with and would love to support further? 

I have recently started to engage with the Lupus Research Alliance after I was diagnosed with it a few years ago and have been inspired to help others going through similar issues. 


Karen Tysco, Marketing Consultant 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

My daughter! Also being a female in the tech industry and specifically here at SparkOrange, carving out my own niche within Marketing Automation & Consultation 

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

I landed in the technology space sort of by chance; Derek is a close friend, I was looking for a new opportunity and it ended up being a perfect fit. With previous positions I held I always really missed learning and school (crazy, I know!) because I didn’t feel like I was using that part of my brain as much anymore. With the tech space and SparkOrange I really get to constantly learn which is huge for me and I love it!

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you are passionate about and actively involved with?

Our friends over at David’s Refuge do incredible things for parents and caregivers of those with special needs. 

What female inspires you and why?

I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by females who inspire me; from my mom to my close friends and co-workers, they are all bad ass females who inspire me daily

As a woman, are there social, morale, etc. topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

I think it is so important to raise our little girls to be strong, independent minded women and make sure they know they can do and be anything they want to.


Gianna Morelli, Senior Project Manager

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of? 

Truly graduating college was a huge accomplishment and one I am most proud of. I worked all 4 years while going to school full-time and also held various leadership positions on campus. The program I was in at Cornell, Operations Research Engineering was very challenging. I was able to successfully complete everything on time while learning to manage my time and plan effectively on my own. 

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

Not necessarily intentional! I just always enjoyed things like math and statistics that were structured and being in school for engineering was just a normal path for me. While not a life long desire I had a lot of exposure and accessibility to the tech space and I found my skills aligned to supporting technology really well. I had taken some computer science classes and while I did not want to be a programmer myself, being in a role that is technology adjacent I felt would be a really cool place to be. 

Anything you are a passionate about in your local community or actively involved with?

My boyfriend is a Marine Veteran and he is on the board for the VFW so we are both actively involved with our local chapter in Fairport, NY. 

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support?

Girls on the Run. I personally love to be active and have taken part in many 5Ks to support this organization. It is such a great mission to help young girls get out and get moving.

What female inspires you and why?

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. I love her background and story. She is just an overall go getter, determined and self made. She set her mind on something and never gave up. I love her tenacity.

As a woman, are there social, morale, etc. topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

It is difficult to find good role models and mentors in the tech space that are female. In the past I have worked in other industries such as finance and manufacturing and have been one of a few females that worked there and there have not many in leadership positions to act as mentors. This has drawn me to want to be a mentor and in a leadership role in my career eventually to share advice, knowledge and to help other women grow. 

SparkOrange is the smallest company I have worked at and the one with the most women, which is awesome! 


Hillary Baiamonte, Technical Solutions Architect

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

Learning #Salesforce. I always thought people in tech were geniuses, something I could never be. However, look at me now!

What female inspires you and why?

There’s no woman in particular that inspires me, per se. Instead, I’m inspired daily by the collective of women who are totally rocking it on a daily basis. I am most inspired by the women who command a room with simply their technical-speak.

Is there an organization you are passionate about or actively involved with?

The Rape Crisis Center Las Vegas – this organization goes to heroic lengths to support women, girls, and men in local Las Vegas with a constant focus on serving all that have been impacted by any form of sexual violence.

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

I was laid off a few months after starting as a management consultant and moved to Boulder, CO. After looking at local universities & job fairs, I saw a position for “something, something, Salesforce” I applied because I had completed my college finance capstone on Salesforce, from the business side. I 100% thought I knew Salesforce really well, but after starting in a 6wk bootcamp, I felt completely lost with what we were learning and at one point almost quit.. & now here I am! A trusted Architect by my teams and partner clients! 

As a woman, are there social or morale, topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

WOW, YES! Women are groomed by society to live and present themselves as functional in business, while many women are incredibly technical. Our default is to speak functionally, rather than more technically, which under-represents our true technical knowledge. It’s about perception. Technical titles and people’s perception of a woman, as a “technical resource,” directly correlates to leadership positions and high wage earnings. I’m passionate about women investing in tailoring the perception they want to give off in the workplace. 


Ashley Braden, Project Manager 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

Perseverance. I decided when I was young that I would be the first in my family to go to college and get a Masters Degree. Even when all the odds were against me, I pushed through worked 3 jobs and completed my Masters in a year and a half. Looking back I do not know how I made it happen, but I did it.

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

I love technology and the way our world is shifting. Technology was not a huge thing when I was young so being in that millennial era I was able to see how technology has completely changed our lives. I want to be apart of that, to help shape the future and do things we never even knew could be possible. 

Anything you are passionate about in your local community or actively involved with?

I love crafting and helping to bring joy to others. I love children and one way I try and help is by making blankets and donating them to the Children’s hospital. My son has one of those blankets, and thankfully he did not have to stay long. But I always remember every time I see that blanket. So knowing a blanket, something warm and familiar, in such as difficult time may help children and their parents is why I continue to make them. 

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support further?

Research expansion on childhood cancer. 

What female inspires you and why?

There is a woman that I went to school with who lost her son when he was 3 months. She has taken this awful tragedy and turned it into something beautiful. She built a fundraiser for SIDS and has incorporated him into everything she does she has been able to donate over $100,000 SIDS research over that time. The way she moved forward and has built a beautiful life and still through every way possible she brings him into her world. 

As a woman, are there social, morale, etc topics that affect women today, that you feel passionately about and why?

Social media pressure. With technology everyone is able to project themselves however they want. Many people will use social media to convey what they believe to be perfect or desirable. When young girls see this all over social media they think they need to be just like that, but they may not understand that what they are seeing is unachievable because it is not real. Photos are retouched, fake images are used, their life may look perfect but in reality it is not. There should be more information accessible to girls to understand that they are all beautiful and should not try to become someone else’s misconstrued version of perfect. 


Megan Smith, Business Analyst 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

As strange as this may seem, I’m really proud of cutting my hair. For a long time I let my hair be a main factor in my gender identity and femininity. That without it I was less feminine and less of a woman. When I finally let go of those feelings and started cutting it short, I just kept going shorter and shorter. Letting go of that control and doing what made me happy instead of what others expected of me as a woman made me a better and happier person. 

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

My mom was a woman in technology and my dad was an avid gamer who tended to hack his games. I got a lot of my nerdy interests from my dad and my strive to be something different from my mom. I wanted to be someone people didn’t forget or did not underestimate. 

Anything you are passionate about in your local community or actively involved with? 

Mental health for everyone. Especially with this last year everyone needs a little help. I can’t do much to help others than being a supporting voice. Sometimes you have to accept that you are a very minor role in a big project to help everyone. 

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support? 

The Trevor Project, it gives people nationwide, young and old, a place to turn to for help and trained individuals to talk with. Also Planned Parenthood, I think it’s important to provide everyone an equal opportunity to a safe life in parts of our life we may not be the most comfortable sharing.

What female inspires you and why? 

Jane Elliot has always inspired me. Her teachings and not taking excuses has always been so powerful to me. She doesn’t let people get away with hateful or ignorant ideas. I hope to have the power to be like her. 

As a woman, are there social, morale, etc. topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why? 

The stigma we still see on women being in the tech or “nerdy” space. While the world is slowly changing and normalizing this, I still have moments that this affects my life. For myself, when I’m playing games or speaking online I take advantage of the anonymity of the internet. It feels strange that I feel like I have to hide my identity so I can coexist in that space. I think we need to encourage the idea that how you look or how you identify doesn’t dictate who you are or what you like. That everyone is different and has great things about them that you can’t see on the surface. Get to know your fellow humans. Pay it forward. Be kind everyday. You will feel better if you do. 

 


Alexis Bates, Salesforce Consultant 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

Graduating college. Throughout my adolescence, I was always thrown significant challenges that occasionally made me want to give up. But I had a goal set in mind, and I worked hard to reach that all on my own.

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

I was intrigued by engineering and technology from a young age. I think that the possibilities that advancements in technology provide our society are truly inspirational. It is a huge impact on our evolving world that I always hope to be apart of. 

Is there anything you are passionate about in your local community or actively involved with?

I have relocated a couple of times in the past year, so have not currently gotten involved in anything local. But in the past, I have always loved getting involved in Relay for Life and organizations that support disadvantaged children. 

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support?

The Tesori Family Foundation. I met the Tesori’s at a foundation dinner in high school where they gave me, and a handful of other students, laptops in preparation for college. They started the foundation in the name of their amazing son, Isiah, who was born with Down syndrome. They continue to generously give back with their participation and support for so many charities in my hometown community. 

What female inspires you and why?

A family friend, Anastasia. She moved to the United States from Russia when she was very young. In addition to caring for her two younger siblings, while living in cars and going in-and-out of foster homes most of her life, she worked hard to accomplish many things that were thought to be unattainable. She now owns her own home in California, has worked for Apple for over 10 years, and has a beautiful baby girl.

As a woman, are there social, morale, cultural topics, etc. that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

One of the most passionate topics for me is women’s equality in the workplace. For so long women were not provided the same opportunities or resources, and even equal pay. I am proud of the positive advancement that continues to occur around this topic, but there is still work to be done. 

 


Genna Williams, Practice Director 

What female inspires you and why? 

My mom. She’s a high school math teacher for underprivileged students/students that really struggle in a traditional school setting. These kids have poor home lives or situations that have prevented them from succeeding. She is a spectacular teacher but decided when I was a senior in high school that she was going to open a Subway franchise and an ice cream shop (while continuing to teach). She gave me a job and let me run those businesses and learn what really goes into owning a small business. She has skill sets that I want nothing to do with but totally respect like drywalling, and tiling and carpentry. She has limitless energy, cares about people deeply, and has such a realistic take on complicated problems. She’s also hysterical and super fun. She is truly one of a kind and I 1000% would not be who I am today if she wasn’t such a fantastic mom/human being. I also want to shout out my sister in law who recently got hired as the first woman mechanic in the history of the nuclear plant in our area. I think that’s pretty badass and inspiring. I love when women break down walls that no one expects them to.

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of? 

Getting promoted to Practice Director at SparkOrange. I feel like it’s the true culmination of all of the work I’ve put in and the time I’ve devoted to my career and becoming independently successful. That and running a half marathon for the first and last time in my life. I am not a long-distance runner and it was something I accomplished solely because I put my mind to it and committed to reaching the goal.

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

After graduating college I got an Accounts Payable job at an industrial scale company. When I was 23 I moved to North Carolina on a whim with one of my best friends and had the opportunity to interview with a company very similar to the one I worked for in New York. They had just purchased Salesforce and were looking for someone to self implement it for them. They thought I had the right personality to do it and hired me. I had to Google Salesforce, I had no idea what it was. I learned it in 2 months, trained their sales team on it, and became the company’s Salesforce admin. That job turned into a Business Process Specialist position and it’s all kind of history from there! My career has consisted of some really key people believing in my abilities and taking a chance on me.

Anything you are passionate about in your local community or actively involved with? 

We have a community engagement committee at SparkOrange that I am actively involved with. One of the initiatives we are working on that I am really passionate about is women in technology. All through high school and college, I had NO idea that what I currently do for a living was even a possibility. I think it’s so important to teach young women that there are endless possibilities for them in the technology space. 

As a woman, are there social, moral, etc. topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

We talk a lot about the possibilities in technology for women and talk about how we can get more women involved in the industry. Something I think is just as important, but talked about less is teaching young women how to be strong, supportive colleagues that uplift other women and support their colleagues’ successes. We will constantly be fighting an uphill battle trying to be equally respected in the workplace and achieving equal pay, but we are not going to make that fight any easier by prematurely judging one another and being unsupportive. Early in my career, I dealt with some pretty unfair judgment and treatment from other women who weren’t willing to get to know me and celebrate success together. I vowed that I would never be like that, especially to younger generations of women who are trying to find their way in the professional world and build a career.


Shelby Holton, Director of Project Management 

 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of? 

At my previous company, I helped lead an Agile transformation for the IT organization. I was asked to give a live training on the frameworks and practices of Agile. Over 2,000 employees attended the hour long session! Being seen as an expert in my field and sharing my knowledge with the entire organization at a Fortune 50 company was a big achievement. Most importantly, in my personal life, I am most proud of my little daughter!

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

Thanks to my parents for exposing me to the technology world during high school, I developed enough interest and majored in Management Information Systems in college. Upon graduating, I landed myself in a Digital Technology Leadership Program at a Fortune 50 company. The 2-year program consisted of four, six month rotations where I held different technology roles within the company. It allowed me to get my hands dirty in a professional setting, and further explore my interests in technology, which helped determine where I wanted my career to go. When I started it was very cliché where many times, I was the sole female on the teams I worked on. I felt that I had to constantly prove my worth and made sure I was heard. I was able to find female mentors that supported my goals and provided guidance helping me grow in my career. Overtime, I noticed the number of females in the technology space increase and along with that, the culture and stereotypes have slowly changed as well. Now I work in a technical environment where more than half are women!

Anything you are passionate about in your local community or actively involved with? 

 My primary interest lies with Women in STEM initiatives. For over 5 years I led a program that partnered with local schools to increase the awareness and participation of young females in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It consisted of both one-time events and ongoing, year round programs that would focus on STEM activities, career discussions and connecting like-minded middle school aged girls to network. The program reached a wide range of demographics – from rural areas to the inner city – which helped gain exposure to technical subjects and careers that students may have not been introduced to or have the means to otherwise.

 It still brings a smile to my face when I think about the girls we would work with and how excited they would get when met with a technical problem, using skills and tools we introduced to them, to critically think and solve it on their own. Working so closely with young females to be a positive influence on their career choices and interests after high school has been incredibly rewarding and a highlight while volunteering.

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support? 

Girls Who Code! They work to close the gender gap in the computer science and technology industry by getting girls interested in the tech world. They also offer leadership opportunities and support groups for all girls interested in the field. Learning how to code, especially at such a young age provides so many benefits, no matter what career direction someone wants to go in. Knowing the foundations of coding taps into logic, problem solving, critical thinking, and organization skills which are essential cornerstones to have for any career. Supporting organizations like this one helps encourage and enable more females in technical fields.


Nicole Elvers, Experience Director 

 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

One of my proudest accomplishments professionally was being named the Recruiter of the Year for the Eastern Region for the past company I worked for. This award was based on a series of different criteria including hitting certain recruiting targets, growth metrics and being nominated by your district office. When the award was first introduced the year prior I had my mind set on achieving it and focused the entire year moving forward to do all I could to have our best year yet. In a competitive industry and among all the other amazing individuals from over 60+ districts nominated for the award, I was beyond honored to achieve this. 

Personally, after graduating college I decided to take the leap and move across the country to California with my closest friends. I went having no job lined up, never having been that far from home or family and having no real plan. Moral of the story- I learned to take chances, be adventurous, trust myself, and follow my heart. Looking back I still cannot believe I took such a huge risk with all the uncertainty, but it was beyond worth it. 

How did you land as a female in the technology space?

Honestly, completely by chance, although I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I never had a specific ambition to join the tech space and had no idea what types of career opportunities even existed that would fit my skill set, experience or passion. I had no true exposure to the limitless possibilities this industry offered. If it wasn’t for my best friend convincing me I should check out SparkOrange and introducing me to Salesforce and the tech space overall, I can tell you I would not be here and likely would have never considered it. Thank you Dena!!

Anything you are a passionate about in your local community or actively involved with?

I am actively involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and have been a part of Tomorrow’s Leaders which is a young professionals group, offering its members the opportunity to connect with others, learn and grow personally and professionally, all while making a difference in the lives of those living with cystic fibrosis. I have also served on the Council for Tomorrow’s Leaders as part of the WNY Chapter in Rochester for the past few years.

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support?

My younger brother is a Diabetic and I would love to actively support Juvenile Diabetes further. I also feel very strongly about supporting any organization that empowers young girls and helps them to build self confidence, learn leadership skills and promotes developing healthy relationships. In a world that can easily tear you down I think it is critically important to teach young girls how to be independent, have a positive self body image and have the confidence to love who they are. 

What female inspires you and why?

I cannot pinpoint one specific female that inspires me, however I am inspired by women who constantly make it their mission to empower others and continue to break down barriers. I love seeing women set goals, accomplish what may seem impossible at first or not typical for a female and doing it with grace and confidence. 

As a woman, are there social or cultural topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why?

I am truly passionate about women’s equality, especially in the workplace. As a female you should have the same opportunities as everyone else, be paid the same competitive wages and be viewed as respected leaders. I believe this must be earned just as it needs to be by anyone else, but there shouldn’t be more hoops to jump through. I feel very strongly that society should not determine what we can accomplish, who we can be or what opportunities we have available. I have worked in now two very male dominated industries and thankfully both companies have fully supported women in leadership, encouraged equal opportunities and created a very inclusive culture. 

 


Aliza Seeber, Co-Founder & Partner 

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of? 

Starting SparkOrange and the entire team’s continued commitment to client success. When Derek and I started SparkOrange, we really wanted to build a business that would impact, change, and generate positive, tangible results for the organizations we are supporting. Over 8 years later we are still growing, adding amazing people, and continuing to deliver awesome work for the clients we serve.

How did you land as a female in the technology space? 

A driving factor in my career has been that I always knew I wanted to do something where I would be in service to others. Early on, I had internships in politics, jobs in nonprofits, and various jobs working for start-ups. When working for these start-ups, I was thrown into learning about technology and eventually I got exposed to Salesforce and I felt like I had finally found my calling. Having a career in technology has allowed me to utilize my skillset, have a long-lasting positive impact on the businesses and people we serve, while continuing to learn and challenge myself daily.

Anything you are a passionate about in your local community or actively involved with?

I am very passionate about supporting and championing women’s issues, rights and equality. Right after college, I worked at a shelter for battered and abused women, an experience that changed my life forever. At SparkOrange, we are leading community Salesforce Admin training classes which I hope will evolve into additional support and training initiatives for women in technology.

Is there a charity/cause/organization that you feel very strongly about or would love to support? 

Vera House. Vera House’s Mission is to prevent, respond to and partner to end domestic and sexual violence and other forms of abuse.

What female inspires you and why? 

There are so many women that are doing such amazing things. The women that inspire me the most are the ones that I work with and connect with regularly. At SparkOrange, I come to work and am inspired by the women I get to work with daily. For example, Dena Moore, our EVP, just graduated from a prestigious degree program while working full-time and raising two boys under the age of 3! And Theresa Kletch, a long-time client & partner, and Senior Operating Advisor at Francisco Partners Consulting is someone else who I truly admire, and although she does not know it, I have learned so much from her through our work and interactions, both in her approach to goals and challenges, and in how she carries herself as an extremely confident, intelligent woman – and absolute stellar performer – in a such a male-dominated section of industry.

As a woman, are there social or cultural topics that affect women today, that you feel passionate about and why? 

As a working mom and business owner I constantly struggle with the whole idea of “mom guilt.” There is this constant feeling that what I do is never enough. If I am spending time at work and on the business, then my kids/family are sacrificing and losing out. If I am spending time with my kids, then the business is sacrificing and losing out. With age and maturity, I have learned how to more effectively manage this and create a better balance but early on it was very difficult and I felt very isolated in this. At SparkOrange working with other women who are experiencing the same things has been very helpful and I want to continue to build a culture here that supports a healthy balance.