We spoke with Carol MacDonell this month for the next interview in our Get to Know ZBC Partners series. Carol works at Marin IT and has been a trusted IT consultant for ZBC over the past year. She helps ensure our computer systems run smoothly and sets up new computers, email addresses, VPN access and more. She is always happy to problem solve the issues we face and genuinely cares about the work ZBC does. You might have met her at our 2018 Dipsea Hike, where she volunteered her time to help hikers find their way up the Dipsea steps. Read on to learn about her work and enthusiasm for ZBC’s mission.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I’ve been working in IT for about 30 years now. I went to college initially to be a math teacher, but then I started taking computer science classes and found that I really liked working with computers. I love solving puzzles. I got into programing. As soon as I got out of school, I got my first job as a programmer and I did that for about a year. And then it segued into networking at one point, and I stayed on that path for a while. In the company I currently work for, I have to wear all hats. I still do networking but have also branched out into other things from there.
Q: What do you consider your top 3 professional skills?
A: Problem solving, that’s a biggie. It’s a lot like doing puzzles on a daily basis, where you have this pile of pieces and you have to figure out how to put them back together. They’re broken, they don’t make a good picture, and so we all have to figure out how to reorder them and maybe change the shape of some of them to get them back into a picture that makes sense. It can be stressful, but at the same time you feel good when you do figure it out. Second, I’m pretty good at e-mail systems in general. And third, the ability to switch gears really quickly, which we have to do frequently. That goes along with wearing multiple hats. You might be working on one thing for an hour and then you have to stop, switch gears, and work on something completely different for the next hour.
Q: What attracted you to working with ZBC when you first heard about the organization?
A: I’ve always tried to get involved in issues I care about in my personal life through fundraisers and community service because I think it’s important to give back. It’s very, very rewarding. My curiosity was piqued when I read about ZBC. I have had a couple of relatives with breast cancer: my aunt from my mother’s side had a mastectomy when she was in her early 60s and one of my cousins had a lumpectomy when she was even younger. I have annual screenings. I thought “What does ZBC do right there in this little office?” I think that’s great that you’ve taken on a there’s-something-we-can-do-about-this attitude to let people know that we may not be able to cure breast cancer, but here are things we can do that will help. It’s great when someone has that kind of vision and turns it into their life’s work.
Q: What did you learn about breast cancer while working with ZBC that you did not already know?
A: One of the first times I spent time in your office, we were there to do computer work, but I saw these brochures laying around and posters on the wall, so I started looking at them. I grabbed one of the little pamphlets, took it with me and started reading it. I thought, “Oh wow. This is really interesting, I had no idea.” I did not know that breast cancer had any connection at all to overall physical fitness or diet or use of certain products in your daily life. I changed the products I use after learning more about them.
Q: Which of the projects that you worked on did you enjoy the most?
A: Sometimes in this line of work, everything is so rudimentary. It’s all behind the scenes. It’s almost like plumbing or something. It’s not very glamorous, but I enjoy anything I can do to make things flow smoothly for a business so that they can get the things done that they need to get done. We smooth the way so that you guys can accomplish your work. Also, I volunteered at the Dipsea Hike last year. That isn’t related to my computer work, but I enjoyed being there and participating.
Q: What has been rewarding and what has been challenging about working with ZBC?
A: It’s been rewarding that I’ve been able to help you guys keep going by getting everything running so that you can do your jobs. You’re not faced with “OK this is broken again. It was broken yesterday, it was broken last week, and now it’s broken again. Why does this keep happening?” It was challenging at first when I came in because we had to turn around some bad feelings and come up with a roadmap that worked for both sides. We’ve gotten past all of that and we’re on good, solid ground now.
Q: What do see as your biggest contribution to ZBC?
A: Being there when you guys need me. When you need help with something—whatever it is, even if it’s something that I’m thinking, “Hmm, I’m not sure why this is happening”—I will do what I can to figure it out.
Q: What passion or hobby do you do that is separate from your work?
A: I’ve gotten really involved in an organization called Grateful Gatherings. They furnish homes for families that are transitioning out of homelessness. They do absolutely everything, all on donations, for about 2 homes every 3 months. A lot of these families have fled abusive relationships. It’s almost always single mothers with children. They’ve been homeless for a period of time and they now have housing. They’re on their way to a better life, but they don’t have furniture. They don’t have dishes. They don’t have towels. They don’t have curtains. A lot of times they’re sleeping on the floor with blankets. Grateful Gatherings collects absolutely everything they need to turn their place into a home. They talk to the kids and try to get things into their rooms that the kids will be excited about. It is so cool to see the before and after and to see the looks on their faces when they see it. I also enjoy spending time with my family, and I’m really passionate about wine, so I enjoy going wine tasting when I can.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Thank you for a really cool organization. You have an opportunity to have a really positive impact on women’s lives. Keep up the good work!
Interview conducted and written-up by Lianna Hartmour, ZBC Program Director