Make it New & Make it Work: A Staff Spotlight with Bethany Nelson

Personal / educational / job background?

I graduated cum laude from Florida State University with dual degrees in English Literature and History, and minors in Mathematics, French, Psychology, and Theatre. Simultaneously, I worked as a stage manager for various theatres in Florida, but because theatre does not pay well and because – truth be told, I got burned out – I became a wine consultant and bartender. While I had a great time making drinks and learning the underbelly of the human condition for the first couple years out of college, certain life circumstances forced me to find something more sustainable. Enter – Sterling!

What are your main responsibilities at the Sterling office?

As a Digital Media Manager, my primary responsibilities include being the in-house photographer, sole content creator and manager of the Sterling Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram channels, with 1-3 postings each day to ensure a continuous track record of rising monthly reach and engagement analytics. I also serve as chair for the Marketing & Social Media subcommittee of the Examination Steering Committee, and actively participate in other committees as the need for marketing input arises. I help coordinate with thought leaders and make final edits for our biweekly #wednesdaywisdom blog, as well as help coordinate our biweekly #talktuesdays and Friday Spotlights. And if that is not enough, I work with 223_agency and EventOwl on our website, app, and finding ways to continuously enhance your Sterling social media presence. All in a day’s work!

Where do you draw your inspiration for the beautiful social media posts to increase engagement and awareness of the Florida Sterling Council?

First of all, thank you! Secondly, I generally draw my design inspiration from Modernism and expatriate literature, and here is why: to be modern is to “make it new”; to be an expatriate is to leave one’s home in pursuit of something more or simply, something else. Both ideas remind me, at least in some part, of the pursuit of Sterling. We are always trying to recycle or steal ideas across various sectors and find ways to optimize processes. We travel to different, often foreign industries to see how others are making what they do work so we may do “more” with ourselves and our own organizations.

In design, I try to embody Modernism on posts regarding the Sterling Framework by using clean, crisp lines and a simple on-brand color palette that include blacks, greys, and blues. I draw from expatriate literature when working on blog or people-focused graphics – you often see nature (Daisy Miller, The Sun Also Rises) and transport (Innocents Abroad, Giovanni’s Room) imagery to symbolize learning and exploration. My hope is, ultimately, with whatever I create, to move you in some way. Be more innovative. Observe, record, and make new.

How do you like to be appreciated, recognized, and encouraged, and how has that changed with COVID (given you now work remote)?

I have always been a “behind the scenes” type of person. I show my appreciation for others by making them feel recognized, and if I did a good job, that will show by how they shine. In theatre, I often memorized every cast and crew members’ birthday, and on that day, I baked and brought in their favorite dessert or would cook their favorite food. Recognizing others makes others’ feel motivated to work that much better for you, and it sure helped when their performance dictated if I could book another gig. At Sterling, I baked treats for trainings and felt encouraged when trainees would stop me in my tracks to say thank you.

Now, I focus all that energy into making graphics and fun things like the Examination Recognition Zoom event, GSA / Georgia Oglethorpe Facebook Live event, #talktuesday, the blog, and the Spotlight. Seeing you share, like, and comment on anything I have a part of is the best form of “thank you,” and it is all I need to know to keep going and make things better for the next Sterling innovation.

What’s your experience been working from home with a little one?

To be perfectly honest with you, it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. I wake up at 4 AM every day so I actually get things done before my son, Charlie, wakes up. It’s not unusual for people to see an early morning or late night time stamp on my emails. Often, if I am on mute in a Zoom meeting, it is because if I wasn’t, you would hear a constant stream of “la la la la, la la la la Elmo’s World.” That is not to say the TV is always on – it isn’t – but let’s just say my zero screen time rule has lapsed. And that’s okay. We have a pretty good routine now, and I am proud of myself for giving myself grace and patience when managing both stay at home mom life and working from home.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from your son, Charlie?

Good question. I will answer in story.

Charlie was a complete and total surprise. I found out I was pregnant with him when I was 33 weeks pregnant (or in non-mom speak, 7.5 months along). I was working as a bartender and wine consultant in Tampa, developed bad carpal tunnel syndrome, went to get surgery, was denied it because surprise – I was pregnant – and the plan was to temporarily move back home to Tallahassee and go through with an adoption process. Then, I let go from the idea of what I thought was going to be the trajectory of the next few months of my life.

In Tallahassee, I saw an adoption specialist every day. I let go of being there for his first words, his first steps, his first day of kindergarten, his first everything. It was soul crushing. I couldn’t do it, and so a week before Charlie was born, I let go of my lifelong assertion that I would never be a mom, called the adoption specialist to apologize and inform him of my decision, and decided I was going to do everything in my power to be what this child needs to reach his potential. I was enough – I am enough – and I let go to let love in. Every day, Charlie teaches me the verb that is love on his own day by day transition to independence. Every day, I learn how to love and let go. And I think that is also what it means to be a parent. For that choice, for this chance – I am grateful.




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