We first met Shonna Ryan before Groundwork was a physical space. We were sitting around a table in the old Civic Support office in downtown New Bedford, brainstorming about a fun social event for professionals with no membership requirements or fees. Thus the Business Buzz was born, and Shonna has been an integral member of the GW community since.
The “Buzz” has been through some ebbs and flows over the years, and I’m convinced that we would have let it fall apart altogether at one point if it weren’t for Shonna’s dedication and dependability. Shonna is the kind of person who quietly gets the job done behind the scenes, with little fanfare and no expectation of recognition. If Steve Markowski is an unsung hero for showing up and supporting community events, Shonna is a hero for making things happen.
In this interview, Shonna talks about the many roles she plays both professionally and in the community. Badass alert: she happens to be a linebacker for the Boston Renegades!
What’s your profession?
I’m sure many people at GW can sympathize that this can be a tough question! I do a lot of consulting and freelance work, but my main focuses have been in educational technology and nonprofit outreach strategy.
Describe a typical work day for you.
Currently I split my time between working from GW for Civic Support, and working at Providence College. Regardless of where I am, most of my day is made up of computer-based tasks such as writing tutorials, assisting with online course development, researching industry trends, and spending a somewhat embarrassing amount of time on social media working on social campaigns for various projects.
What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?
The biggest challenge I face is desk lock. I go really crazy with sitting in one place for too long and lately I have been making an effort to plan my day so I get up and move around more, and to diversify the tasks I have planned for the day as much as possible.
Do you have a morning routine?
I never used to be an early riser, but working in education has changed that for me by necessity. When I wake up I like to get ready for the day, pack lunch and smoothie for breakfast, and get an early start (even if I’m working from home). I don’t drink coffee so I typically use music to wake myself up in the morning.
What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?
I am a big fan of the Asana project management system. It’s great for breaking down project deadlines and assigning tasks, especially when you work with a lot of freelancers who are not “in office”. But I also love it for personal use– at the start of the day it sends me a breakdown of the tasks I need to do and helps me keep on track for finishing projects and making deadlines.
What do you listen to during the day?
It ranges depending on my mood, I have actually built Spotify playlists around this! For example, when I’m in a high energy mood I have a Spotify playlist of dubstep tunes (Filthy Dubstep Anthems), and when I need to mellow out I have a playlist of indie rock songs (Indie Music Isn’t Just for Hipsters).
How do you benefit from using a coworking space?
Having operated an office for my nonprofit (Civic Support) in downtown NB for three years, the burden of both cost and upkeep can be tremendous. I love having access to an affordable space where there is high speed Internet and all the other amenities I need. I also like being a part of the community created by GW; I am always meeting interesting people!
What’s in your digital toolbox?
Definitely Asana, as mentioned before, but I am also a big fan of Google Drive. I like being able to save all my work to the cloud so I can access it from any device. For my line of work I also spend a lot of time using WordPress, Prezi, MailChimp, and Screencast-o-Matic.
What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?
Probably the most surprising thing people wouldn’t expect about me is that I play linebacker for the Boston Renegades, a Division I women’s tackle football team.
What inspires you?
I guess it’s sort of a generic answer, but I would say my parents have been a major inspiration in my life. Since I was in elementary school and formed my first “Big Help Club” (inspired by Nickelodeon) they have been a supportive force behind community service and getting involved in doing what you can to make the world a better place. My mother is a teacher so she definitely inspired my passion for education, and my father loves all things outdoors which cemented my interest in environmentalism.
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