This interview is part of an ongoing Affinaquest Team Member Spotlight Series to highlight our amazing employees and their contributions to our company’s success.
Being able to travel was a big perk for me coming to Affinaquest. I get to attend different conferences, meet prospective clients and our current clients, and explore ways in which we can enhance their experience with our products and help them accomplish their goals.
What do you do in your role at Affinaquest?
There are two parts to it. First, I work with prospective institutions who are looking to change their advancement CRM system. I help them get all the information and resources they need to make an informed decision.
Once they become a part of the Affinaquest family, I’m their account manager. I make sure they’re kept abreast of new system additions and always getting the full potential of the Affinaquest suite of solutions.
Tell us about your professional journey. How did you end up at Affinaquest?
In college, I was President and Co-Chair of Special Events for the Black Student Alliance (BSA), the second largest organization at Virginia Tech. Our Speakers and Special Events Committees brought people like Angela Davis, Spike Lee, Russell Simmons, Dave Chappelle, and many others to campus. Upon graduation I joined the speakers bureau BSA utilized to help colleges and universities identify and schedule speakers for their campuses.
I’ve always been kind of techy, so after about 10 years, I made the jump over to nonprofit technology, working with organizations to identify various solutions for their tech stack. I found my way into the Salesforce ecosystem and did a couple deals with James Werner at Affinaquest. I wanted to work solely with colleges and universities again, so I made the move to Affinaquest at the beginning of 2021.
What makes you proud to work at Affinaquest?
In my spare time, I volunteer with my alumni association, and I’ve always been shocked by some of the systems they use. There are better options out there, y’all—you don’t have to be stuck with old technology!
So number one for me is helping universities that are finally starting to realize there is better technology out there and that they need to run more like a business than academia. We help them walk away from systems they’ve had for 20 or 30 years, completely redo their processes, set themselves up for growth, and better engage with their alumni.
On the flip side, we’re growing at Affinaquest. I used to want to be an engineer, and I like to tinker with things, to put something in place, and see what the outcome is. We get to do that here at Affinaquest, which is exciting for me.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of my favorite things in school were field trips. I’m from the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area and people inevitably always ask, “Have you been to this museum or that museum?” I’ve been to every single Smithsonian museum at least three times. Field trips were constant in my K-12 experience. It was/is incredibly easy to load a class full of kids onto the Metro train, which teachers took full advantage of.
So for me, being able to travel for work is like going on those field trips, which was a big perk for me coming to Affinaquest. I get to attend different conferences, meet prospective clients and our current clients, and explore ways in which we can enhance their experience with our products and help them accomplish their goals.
When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your time?
I’m the happiest when I’m doing something. I’m very energetic with extreme curiosity. As a kid, one of my uncles nicknamed me “Live Wire.” I was always moving and asking questions a mile a minute.
I love sports—love, love, love sports—I play flag football, softball, and became a certified scuba diver in 2019. I love traveling, learning new things, reading, eating, hanging out with friends, and anything outdoors (such as cookouts, wine tastings, athletic events). Simply put, anything where I can have fun or that makes my heart smile, you will find me doing.
What three things are on your bucket list?
I have three bucket lists: a travel list, an overarching have-to-do-before-you-die list, and a professional list. In 2018, I vowed that I would mark off one thing from each list every year. It started off a little rocky, but I made up for it the following year. In 2019, I marked off 5 items on the travel list (Turks & Caicos; Rock Hill, SC; Los Cabos, Mexico; San Francisco, CA; and Chinatown in San Francisco). Additionally, I became a certified Scuba Diver, which was on the overall do-before-you-die list; and on the professional list I was promoted to a position I had been working towards for a year.
There are several items left on each list, such as visiting all 50 states. I went to Louisiana for the first time this year, so I’m newly at 26. I am a big tennis fan, so attending the 4 grand slams remains on the list, as well as learning how to ride a horse.
Just in case you’re wondering, the three things I’ve identified to accomplish in 2022 are: attending a collegiate softball super regional game (overarching), visiting the Florida Keys (travel), and receiving some level of certification (professional). That last one seems a little iffy…LOL!
What is your favorite quote?
I love quotes. One that I say a lot—I think Einstein said it—is ”the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Another one of my favorite quotes is “Intuition comes to a prepared mind.” I first heard it at The Container Store.
It’s proven that humans cannot make anything up from scratch. We just can’t do it. Everything is based on some level of truth. You may experience something when you’re 16 that doesn’t come into play until you’re 50, but you have knowledge that you can apply.
Clients talk about wanting to have better recognition of who their constituents are, when to engage, when to ask for donations, and for how much. You have to know as much as you can about these people in order to know when, where, and for how much. Intuition comes to a prepared institution.
Thank you for chatting with us, Vashonta! For more Affinaquest team member spotlights, follow our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.