We interviewed Jennifer Gress, owner of Snapdragon Services, next in our Get to Know ZBC Partners series. Jenn has been a ZBC partner since 2012! As the webmaster for zerobreastcancer.org, she keeps our website up, running, safe and secure. Her technical expertise and insights have also been invaluable as we’ve improved navigation and provided more focused content. Jenn is always happy to brainstorm our website goals and then help us achieve them, whether through working her magic on the backend or providing humor-filled training sessions for staff. We are incredibly grateful for what she brings to ZBC and glad to have the opportunity to share her perspective with you below.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I originally worked in banking, business offices and telecommunications. One of my roles was Marketing Coordinator, which involved building company websites. After the Great Recession, I ended up having to start my own business. Nine years later, I have been working with small business, non-profit and solopreneur clients on their sites. I primarily work with Joomla, an open-source website-building platform. I’m very involved in Joomla, which is 100% run by volunteers. I’m a published author for O’Riley on a book that is about using Joomla. I ran a Joomla User Group in the Bay Area for 8 years, and I was on the Joomla User Group Team for the Joomla project for a few years. I’ve written all of the migration documentation on docs.joomla.org, and I will do so again when the new version comes out soon. I have also begun to build websites in Squarespace. Now I manage 54 websites, three in Squarespace.
Q: What do you consider your top 3 professional skills?
A: I took a class called B School by Maria Forleo and the class had us talk to people we know as clients or friends and ask them about our top three qualities. I have decided to give you the qualities people said, which also kind of are professional skills. The top ones that came up often were trustworthy/honest, organized, solution-oriented, smart and funny, and kind and patient. You can see examples of these on my testimonial page on my website. One person said “knowledgeable without making me feel stupid.” This is a real concern. Often in my industry, web people make their clients feel bad when they don’t understand what they’re talking about. I think, as a professional, if I cannot explain to you without making you feel bad, then I have no business doing this because websites are about people.
Q: What attracted you to working with ZBC when you first heard about the organization?
A: I was approached via another non-profit in the North Bay that had found me through the Joomla User Group. One of their staff members recommended me to Zero Breast Cancer. Then Zero Breast Cancer contacted me about needing a CYGNET study website and I was hired. When I first heard about the organization, money is what attracted me, but I did also think that the CYGNET study was super cool. Interestingly, the girls were all almost the same age as my daughter. She actually worked on some of the content for the site for her 8th grade community service project. After we finished the CYGNET site, I was approached to work with zerobreastcancer.org.
Q: What did you learn about breast cancer while working with ZBC that you did not already know?
A: I did know a lot about breast cancer already. I’ve had two aunts with breast cancer and my ex-mother in law had it. But I did not know that you should actually be thinking about this stuff for younger girls. I learned quite a bit about how at a young age, you can be working with girls to prevent breast cancer. The thought had not really occurred to me, but it does make sense.
Q: Which of the projects that you worked on did you enjoy the most?
A: The most recent rebranding and the “ZBC Serves” pages. That was so fun. I really enjoyed doing the re-design because this template is just so fresh. After ZBC did a whole branding guide with the new logo and the colors a few years ago, I really had a lot to work with to make the site pretty and snazzy and cute. It just turned out beautifully. Last year with the whole ZBC Serves section, it got better. I love how the layout is and the consistency for the pre-teens, teens, survivors and everyone pages. I love how it all links from the homepage.
Q: What has been rewarding and what has been challenging about working with ZBC?
A: It’s the quality of people. Working with high quality people is really thrilling for me. There’s always someone fabulous there. I think Rose [Barlow, Executive Director] hires beautifully. It was challenging for a short time when there were people who didn’t care as much about the website because it felt like things weren’t progressing. But now, the annual reevaluation of the website and taking steps to always improve is really rewarding.
Q: What do see as your biggest contribution to ZBC?
A: Availability and being able to bounce ideas off of. I’m just here for you. You’ll come to me with an idea, and I’ll be realistic about what you want to do. I implement when appropriate and curb where appropriate. I can fill in some gaps with the information that you don’t know and some things I don’t know either, but we can think about them critically together.
Q: What passion or hobby do you do that is separate from your work?
A: I really enjoy bird watching, but I don’t go bird watching. I just allow the birds to come to me. I have seen so many awesome birds since moving from California to Texas that we didn’t have in California. It’s just been really fantastic. I’ve seen Eastern Bluebirds, which are so much more vibrant than the Western ones, and just recently had this absolutely brilliant show of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in my backyard. Also, I enjoy cooking, singing and watching Netflix when I have time.
Interview conducted and written up by Lianna Hartmour, ZBC Program Director