Member Spotlight

Meet Shannon Knight!

Meet (and friend!) Shannon Knight, a rockstar in the Altru Community!
Meet Shannon Knight!

This week's Community Corner spotlight shines on Shannon Knight, an Altru and Blackbaud Merchant Services user.

Shannon Knight's Community Profile>

Twitter: @shannonkknight

About Shannon:

Tell us about your family (fur babies count!) "My husband, Brian, and I met in Chicago while he was in grad school and I was working as a research assistant in the same department. When he finished his degree, he took a job as a professor at MIT, but I wasn't going to move half-way across the country for some guy. So, a year later, I moved to Boston. That was 19 years ago!"

After several adventures, we're now living in the suburbs just outside of Philly. Brian is a professor at Drexel University and I'm working as an independent consultant for organizations that use Altru. Our daughter, Sammie, is in 6th grade at the local public middle school. She's into theater, dance, singing, writing music -- watch out in about ten years, Lin Manuel Miranda! We also have two dogs: Bandit is a 3-year-old Samoyed whom we've had since he was a puppy. He's the sweetest, goofiest, snuggliest boy ever! Leila is a 3-year-old Great Pyrenees we rescued last November. She takes her instinctive guard duties very seriously but is learning the joys of sticking her head out the car window and chasing a tennis ball.

Where do you live? "Wynnewood, PA (just outside of Philly.)"

What do you like to do for fun? "We're a household of readers, so there's usually a stack of books at least six high on my bedside table. When we moved a few years ago, we had 45 boxes of books -- and 16 of them were our daughter's! Fortunately, I also like to build things, so eventually we will have enough bookcases in our house for all of them!

One of the nice things about being a consultant is that I'm able to be very active as a volunteer at my daughter's school. This year, besides helping to build sets for the school musical and chaperoning several field trips, I'm the editor of the weekly Home-School Association newsletter, The Knightly News. With my last name, I really couldn't pass on that particular job!

During the spring and summer, I'm a member of a dragon boat team. This is my third season with the River Goddesses, who are are currently ranked #1 among the Philly-area women's recreational dragon boat teams. During the cold weather months, I learn to tap dance. I never took dance as a kid so this definitely gets me out of my comfort zone. My teacher has even talked me into participating in the recital every spring. And yes, for that first recital four years ago -- my first recital ever -- I took the cheesy professional photo in my costume!

As you might guess, I'm a bit of a Type A person. But I do like to sit on my porch in nice weather with a beer and play guitar when I have the time. Feel free to stop by!"

What’s a life achievement you are particularly proud of? "Personally: My daughter. She is a kind, caring, sarcastic, smart, wonderful kid. I feel like her father and I are doing something right in raising her.

Professionally: When I first started at the RISD Museum in 2010, technology use was limited at best. I spearheaded the efforts to move to a shared calendar, get wifi in all areas of the buildings, set up a dedicated computer in the meeting room, redesign and re-implement the very 1990-ish website, and switch from a non-system (comprised of Excel spreadsheets, post-its, separate software for ticketing and online purchases, a system that was never meant for membership that we used for membership and constituent management) to the all-in-one solution that is Blackbaud's Altru. When I left in 2016, various forms of technology were not only benig used, but were being taken for granted!"

What’s one memory that always makes you smile? "When our daughter was born, my husband held up the scissors to cut the cord and proclaimed, "I now declare this bridge open!"

What is one interesting fact about yourself most people don't know? "I used to play guitar and sing in a rock band. My favorite song to belt out was 'Just a Girl' by No Doubt. And I loved when we sang in four part harmony!"

What are three things on your bucket list? "Sing in a musical, travel through Europe, host SNL."

Tell us about your organization: "I started Knight Analysis & Solutions in 2016, when my time at the RISD Museum was coming to an end. My background is in technology, having worked in the software industry for about 15 years doing everything from tech support to quality assurance (software testing) to project management. One of my talents is being able to bridge the gap between techies and non-technies. I can help tease out exactly what, for example, a visitor services manager is trying to accomplish and can translate that need for the appropriate technical expert. With my five years using and supporting Altru, sometimes I am that technical expert."

What’s a typical day like for you? "A typical day starts with getting my daughter off to meet the bus followed by a long walk with my two dogs. After breakfast, I grab a cup of coffee and then announce, 'let's go to work!' The three of us head into my home office where my co-workers promptly fall asleep.

Beyond that, it depends on which clients I'm working for that particular day.

Here are some possibilities:
  • A conference call to determine the requirements for a new project. 
  • a WebEx session to walk through an overview of Altru functionality or how to do something in particular.
  • Setting up a new mailing, with all the necessary letters, queries, smart fields, etc.
  • Trouble-shooting a problem before opening a case with Altru support.
  • Documenting Altru how-to's specific to an organization.
  • Creating reports in Excel using OData.I also try to spend time in the Community to answer questions, attend any Altru webinars, and organize the Philly Altru Users Group.
  • Then there's the less exciting yet necessary parts of the job: bookkeeping, ordering office supplies, installing software updates, maintaining my website and my presence on LinkedIn -- all the standard housekeeping chores that happen in any office."
What’s the best part of your job? "The best part of my job is being able to help people use Altru in such a way that it becomes almost invisible. Most non-profit organizations don't have a dedicated database person. So the folks that are managing the database also have their primary role managing membership or fundraising or visitor services. My goal is to set things up so the software gets out of their way and they can focus on what's important to their organization: developing relationships with their constituents.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the non-profit field? "Wipe down the bathroom sink. In any industry, but especially in non-profit where resources are often scarce, we're all in this together. That means that no matter what your title or HR-defined job description, you pitch in where needed. Yes, there's likely someone who's specific job it is to keep the bathroom clean. But if you're in there and notice that there's water all over the sink, just take three seconds to wipe it up. It's the little things that visitors notice and it's the little things that co-workers notice. Every small action feeds into the overall good of the organization. So set an example as a team player and wipe down the sink."

Finally, if you were a sandwich - what kind of sandwich would you be?: "A former colleague and now good friend of mine once described me as the mayo in any group. A sandwhich tastes just fine without it, but it tastes better and holds together better when you add mayo. So, I'm never the sandwich, but I help bring out the best."
Posted by Crystal Bruce on May 3, 2017 4:15 PM America/New_York