Day in the Life of a Nonprofit Communicator – Ash Bruxvoort
Kristina Leroux, COO and Community Engagement Manager
Welcome to the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators! This series lets you describe your workday in your own words.
Ash Bruxvoort coordinates communications for the Women, Food and Agriculture Network. They also coordinate WFAN’s annual conferences and Plate to Politics program, which encourages women in the healthy food and farming movement to run for office. They regularly teach Farming the Web, a workshop that teaches farmers about online marketing, and From URL to IRL, a workshop on digital organizing.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – I’m a late riser by nature. Luckily, my job is remote so I don’t have to get up and get ready to go to an office or commute.
Yesterday, I had to get up before 6:00 to ride across the state (three hours there and back) for a photo shoot and audio interview with my coworker, Wren, of a mentorship pair Women, Food and Agriculture Network facilitated through our Harvesting Our Potential program.
I went to bed earlier than usual last night so I’m up a little earlier than normal. My partner gets up a little before 8:00 to take our dog, Thistle, for a walk.
I meditate for fifteen minutes in bed before heading downstairs to meet them for a cup of coffee.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – While drinking my coffee I check my email to get a sense of what I need to get caught up on this morning. There are a few emails about two workshops I’m planning.
Communications is only part of my job. I also manage the Plate to Politics program, which teaches women in our network leadership skills that will help them run for office. I’m planning a workshop in Indianapolis and Springfield, Illinois, and there are a few emails about details related to that. I also see a few women I requested interviews with on Friday have responded to my requests and I need to solidify interview times for them later this week. I have one interview scheduled for noon today and I need to prep questions.
I’ve been watching a professional development series Joan Garry is putting on and I have a window open on my desktop computer. I decide to watch that video quick before I dive into writing tasks for the morning. While watching the video I take care of quick asks from my coworkers. Another program coordinator has several events happening during the next two months and I need to answer some partner questions she forwarded to me.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – I set a timer for 25 minutes (I try to use the Pomodoro Method to keep on task) and open a new document where I’m going to craft interview questions for my interview at noon. I found the woman I’m interviewing through Twitter and I have a general idea of what I want to ask her. I prep for the interview by looking at her blog and some other articles she’s been quoted in.
This takes around fifteen minutes and I spend the rest of my time working on an outline for an ebook project I’m doing for the program I manage. Once the timer goes off I pull up our Twitter exchange so I have her phone number handy. This is when I realize I’ve made a critical but all too common error, our phone call is at noon Pacific but it’s on my calendar for noon Central. This means I have a few more hours, which I decide I’ll use to wrap up some outstanding tasks I have on our website transition that is finishing this month.
After a quick bathroom break I return to my desk to find a missed phone call. It’s one of my women I requested an interview with last week. I decided to go ahead and call her now. We talk for almost an hour about the donation based cafe she runs and her recent campaign for city council. I’m not totally prepared for the interview but I pull up a list of questions I asked another woman in a recent interview and wing the rest. By the end of the phone call I’ve already identified another woman she should talk to as a newly elected official and I send an email introduction to them.
My partner comes in to let me know she’s going out for groceries. She also works from home most of the time, which has its pros and cons.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – I use this time to follow up on those interview times, read some of the newsletters I think are most important. I try to keep up on what’s happening with ag policy in Iowa and federally. It’s April so there are a lot of news updates to read right now. I open up stories that I think would be good to share through social media.
I get on Instagram and Twitter to see what notifications are waiting for me there. While I was posting to our Instagram story on the farm yesterday I noticed a woman on Instagram sharing about her “Farmacy.” I asked women following us on Instagram to let us know about other farms with a “Farmacy” program and I got a couple of responses. I put their names in a spreadsheet for potential story ideas. I also respond to comments and comment on other people’s posts.
We’re a network so engaging with our members on a personal level is important for our brand.
My partner returns and makes some sandwiches for us around 1:00. We eat them on the porch with our dog and talk a little about what we’ve both been working on. She does public relations and event planning, so we can be good sounding boards for each other. Today we’re talking about some pitches she sent out and the interview I did earlier in the day.
After we eat I head back upstairs to finish some of the social media tasks I didn’t get done.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m – The interview is finally here! I talk to a sixth generation woman rancher in California for about an hour. We talk about feminism, sexism and racism in agriculture, self-reflection and self-improvement. Before we get off the phone I encourage her to run for office and we talk a little about her time barriers, but also her political ambition.
I feel inspired from the call and get on my personal and professional Twitter accounts to tweet about the amazing women I’ve been talking to today. But neither of these profiles are going to go up until our website transition is finished, so I spend the rest of this chunk of time working out the next steps I need to discuss with our tech support person, who is on a contract. I send her the next steps I want to discuss on the phone later this week.
After 4:00 p.m – I usually work until about six or seven, but tonight I need to go into the city for a dinner with friends so I’m wrapping up a little earlier. I catch up on emails I haven’t gotten to yet today, block out time for other important tasks I need to finish this week on my calendar, and open a few things I want to follow up on when I get back home after dinner tonight.
To help transition out of work brain for the time being I take a thirty minute break to hula hoop and lift weights. I plan on reading an article one of our board members recently published on the ride into the city and have a few other articles that have been recommended to me open to read later tonight.
I’ll check our social media accounts and my email again before bed.
I try to be completely off of work social accounts at least two hours before I go to sleep. I drink chamomile tea and meditate before sleep to help calm down my mind, which has been racing all day.
Thanks for sharing, Ash!
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