Favorite thing to do
I love going to art shows through DrewBoy Creative or hiking Badger Mountain.
I love EDM and hip hop. Anything with heavy bass and drop will do just fine.
What would people
be most surprised to learn about you?
I am a published author and once went to China for a swim meet through the Washington Cultural Exchange.
Favorite Tri-City restaurant?
Can I pick two? Taqueria El Marino has the best tacos de cabeza and Moniker is my favorite spot to go out to with friends.
Current city of residence: Kennewick
How long have you worked there? 7 years
Briefly describe your organization:
Mid-Columbia Libraries’ 12 branch libraries, rural delivery service and digital branch provide library services to more than 260,000 residents of Benton, Franklin and parts of Adams counties.
Education: Please list your degrees and professional certifications.
Bachelor’s degree with majors in psychology and digital technology and culture, Washington State University Tri-Cities, 2015. Go Cougs!
Briefly describe your job and how you got into it:
During my senior year at WSU Tri-Cities, I was accepted into one of the graduate programs.
I was preparing to stay on campus as a full-time student and employee post-graduation. However, I found out a month before graduation that my master’s program was being phased out. I was scrambling to find a job off campus because my on-campus positions required that I be a student.
A friend I knew who worked for Mid-Columbia Libraries as a communications specialist was leaving the position and encouraged me to apply. I ended up getting the job, thinking it would be a position that would help me gain more experience and I would leave within a couple of years.
Here I am, seven years later, and it has been one of the most thrilling experiences of my career. I cannot imagine myself anywhere else at this time. I am passionate about what I do and the mission of the library.
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 30 years
How did you earn your first dollar?
I have always been a hustler.
My earliest memory of making money involved painting rocks and going door to door to see if anyone would buy one. Luckily, I had nice neighbors. It was a great blend of my love for the arts, being resourceful and wanting extra money to buy the funky Lip Smackers ChapStick flavors.
What professional lessons, if any, have you learned during the pandemic?
The pandemic taught me that empathy and adaptability are key.
We may all be in the same storm, but our “boats” weather the storm differently.
I have always viewed myself as an empathetic person, but the pandemic has reiterated how important it is to listen and lead with empathy in mind. How can I create space for another co-worker (or a customer) to hear out their ideas and where they are coming from, especially when we cannot always be face to face?
How can I do better to ensure they are being heard and their ideas are honored and not dismissed? We all have unique experiences that shape and inform our ideas and thoughts, and I am in a unique position in my job that allows me to take those ideas and implement them where I can or at least take them to where they can be heard next.
Working in communications also was a test of how adaptable we could be in a time of crisis. We had to quickly shift how we communicated not only internally with staff but externally with our customers.
Like many organizations, a pandemic was not part of our crisis communication plan, so we had to adapt and change in real time. There was no guidebook and now we have a template we can use for future crises to help us adapt more quickly.
What was your dream job as a child?
I really wanted to be an astronomer, but then I realized I am terrible at math. Honestly, I think I didn’t know the difference between an astronomer and an astrologer. Either way, the universe is intriguing.
Tell us about your community involvement/community service.
A lot of my connection to my community has been through my art and being involved in the art community.
As a photographer, I am passionate about storytelling and have made that the center of my work for the last eight years. I have interviewed and shared over 101 stories from various individuals in our community, our nation and even abroad through various photo series.
These series have focused on a wide range of topics including mental health, immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic and the exploration of the vulnerabilities of humankind and sociopolitical barriers through an artistic lens.
I have showcased several of these stories through our local art scene and have even published a book, “Human After All,” through DrewBoy Creative. I have shown my art in around 12 art shows over the last six years and curated my second community art show to benefit the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation in June.
For the last couple of years, I have hosted “Head Shot Happy Hour” (except for 2020) and invited folks from our community to get a professional head shot taken by me by donation.
If someone can give and support these services, great, but a donation is not required to participate. Head shots can be expensive, so it is one of my favorite things to do and offer to folks to amplify their professional digital presence.
I also volunteer for Columbia Center Rotary, assisting with the creation of the annual installation banquet program and helping with various events. In the fall, we pick leftover apples to donate to Second Harvest.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I am a perfectionist and an overachiever by nature.
Achieving a work-life balance is an ongoing venture for me. I am practicing saying “no” to activities that don’t serve me anymore and trying to dedicate my time to things that fill my cup emotionally. I am working to be more mindful about how much I take on because I love helping and will always be the first person to say, “Yes, how can I help?”
I am trying to be better at making time for myself, even if that means taking a nap or time to listen to my audiobook while I go for a walk. For so long, I tried to be everything for everyone and realized that it is a never-ending battle that I can only lose.
List any awards/honors you have received:
The Telly Awards: Silver winner, May 2022; bronze winner May 2019.
Mid-Columbia Libraries’ “Inspiring Latinos / Latinos Inspiradores” video series won a silver Telly Award in the Social Video: Diversity & Inclusion category for excellence in filmmaking in 2022 and a bronze in the Social Video: Culture & Lifestyle category in May 2019. The awards showcase the best work created within television and across video, for all screens. Receiving over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents, Telly Award winners represent work from some of the most respected advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers from around the world.
Jones Soda Artist Trust 2020 winner, May 2020. We recently partnered with Artist Trust to help bring relief to local artists in Washington State. In April, we donated for every artwork photo submitted. Now when you buy this 12-pack, a portion also will go toward Artist Trust’s Covid-19 relief efforts. Help us help local artists during this time of need.
Seattle Refined’s Artist of the Week, April 2020.
Best Creative Marketing, January 2016.
Davin Diaz, Elissa Burnley, Annie Warren and I were honored by the West Richland Chamber of Commerce for Best Creative Marketing in 2017. The awards recognize the work of outstanding members who are leaders in their fields.
Do you have family? Pets?
I live with my partner and two rescue cats, Purrito and Serrano.
What brought you to the Tri-Cities? Did you grow up here?
I am a proud Tri-Cities native.