By Amanda Weisbrod
At Easterseals, we love celebrating the many people who make our mission possible. That includes a very select group that we honor this month: our interns in the Development and Marketing department. Kate, Jordan, and Maggie each brought a unique skill set to our organization -- along with a fresh perspective on connecting with the community.
We are proud to honor Kate, Jordan, and Maggie as our August Heroes – and to be part of their career journeys.
Maggie O’Brien didn’t know what Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati would eventually mean to her when she was first hired on as a freelancer in 2017. But as she became more familiar with the organization’s message, mission and philanthropy, she felt she was doing something important with her work.
O’Brien, who was in her third year as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati when she started working with Easterseals, is one of many indispensable helpers the organization hires on to its marketing and media team in order to get the word out about helpful services, outstanding programs and exciting events.
Along with O’Brien, communication and marketing interns Kate Ducey and Jordan Davis proved themselves to be integral to the media operations of Easterseals during their time at the nonprofit, according to Vice President of Development and Marketing Danielle Gentry-Barth.
O’Brien began her Easterseals journey when she saw a Facebook post describing how the nonprofit needed help designing its 2018 Community Impact report. She reached out to Gentry-Barth, happy for the opportunity to flex the graphic design skills she gained while studying at The University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).
“I love to design, so it was right up my alley doing a print piece,” O’Brien said. “Once I learned what Easterseals did and who they helped, it was a big part of why I decided to help.”
“My brother uses a wheelchair, so everything they do to help people with disabilities was more personal on that level.”
The designer said she is very close with her older brother, so she felt a closeness working for a nonprofit that supports individuals like her sibling.
“Having a brother living with a disability, you know the trials and tribulations that go along with that,” she said. “Working for a company who understands that and reaches out to people with similar challenges is special; I feel like Easterseals understands.”
While O’Brien said the organization’s disability services are close to her heart, she also appreciated its well-rounded approach to helping the disadvantaged communities of Greater Cincinnati.
“I think the way Easterseals helps so many different types of people is awesome,” she said. “Easterseals has a holistic view, start to finish, about how they’re going to help people find places to live and work; they’re really helping people with the quality of life.”
O’Brien redesigned the format for Easterseals’ 2018 annual report to give it a more streamlined and modern look, as well as to appropriately reflect the organization’s mission and highlight the stories of some of its greatest success stories. O’Brien spent five months creating the 16-page document, as she had to build the concept from scratch.
“Maggie’s fresh perspective on graphic design brings so much visual energy and pop to our community impact report,” said Danielle Gentry-Barth, Vice President of Development and Marketing at Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati. “Annual reports are kind of notorious for feeling stale, but Maggie has the design eye to make the stories and outcomes really come to life on the printed page.”
O’Brien is a senior at UC and plans to move to Chicago after graduation to pursue her dream of branding and identity work. Easterseals, she said, had a profound effect on where she aims to work next.
“I’m hoping to continue to do work with other nonprofits,” she said. “I really enjoyed working with Easterseals, so I’m hoping to continue to do something similar in the future.”
Jordan Davis enjoyed a summer marketing internship with Easterseals. He’s a senior at UC studying marketing and fashion design with hopes to one day work in a marketing group for a fashion company. Jordan’s first internship was in a corporate setting, so working with a nonprofit organization helped him develop new skills.
“I think it’s a lot different of an experience; It’s more about developing relationships than about spending money,” he said. “I like the fact that I’m doing something that’s actually benefiting the company and the people seem cool here, too.”
Jordan’s assignment was to develop a new marketing plan for the deconstruction service at Building Value – Easterseals’ social enterprise in Northside that salvages reusable construction materials and provides hands-on workforce development in construction for people who have experienced chronic unemployment.
“Jordan was able to apply his knowledge of data analytics and marketing to surface a lot of great insight about who our potential customers for deconstruction are and how to reach them,” said Michael Beauchat, marketing communications manager for Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati. “We rely on a steady stream of deconstruction work to provide training opportunities and to keep Building Value stocked with the cool merchandise that makes it so popular with rehabbers, makers, and artists.”
“We’re trying to spread awareness of Easterseals’ work. I think what Easterseals does for the community is awesome, I just wish people knew more about them,” Jordan said. “I know they’re bettering people’s lives and giving people more structure.”
Personally, Davis has found his time at Easterseals to be eye-opening and unforgettable. He said he will carry this experience with him into his future ventures. And Building Value will be incorporating Jordan’s research findings in future outreach efforts.
“I want to thank Easterseals for giving me the opportunity to help better somebody's life who may have fallen off the tracks,” he said. “We’re able to help them get back on their feet and better themselves.”
What started as a fall internship for Kate Ducey in September 2017 turned into a long-term work experience that lasted through her graduation in May 2019! If you attended an Easterseals event or visited one of our locations across the Tristate, you’ve probably seen some of her work.
“Kate was such a gift to Easterseals, and we’re so happy that she chose to keep extending her internship with us while also managing school and another job,” Gentry-Barth said. “It’s rare that a college student has the opportunity to contribute so much to the culture of an organization during an internship, but Kate was truly able to make an impact at Easterseals in her role.”
Ducey dove into Easterseals’ mission with vigor from the start. She managed social media and website content, created graphic design elements, and helped with event marketing and support. She says her time with Easterseals was incredibly valuable in many ways. To her, “every part of the internship was my favorite.”
“Easterseals is such an incredible nonprofit that’s doing amazing work in providing people with disabilities, local veterans and people facing economic disadvantages with workforce development,” she said. “I ended up loving what the organization was doing, but I also had the opportunity to create a portfolio.”
Ducey’s internship gave her the chance to compile a robust collection of samples for her resume, giving her an advantage in her line of work. She said seeing her efforts realized was one of the more rewarding aspects of the internship.
“I feel with a lot of internships you don’t get to see what you’re doing in action,” she said. “But with Easterseals, because I was able to see my work on Facebook and at events, I felt like I was doing concrete things.”
Ducey says she is using the professional skills she picked up during her time with Easterseals now that she is out of college and working full time.
“I use a lot of the professionalism and basic life skills I learned from Easterseals in everyday life,” said Ducey, who graduated from UC with a degree in communication and a minor in marketing this spring. “I’m way better at using my resources because at Easterseals I had people I could reach out to.”
Ducey says the Easterseals employees and program participants motivated her, and their love and dedication to the Greater Cincinnati community was a source of inspiration.
“As I worked there, I got to meet people who were in the programs and people who were running the programs and it was so incredible that everyone was doing such great work,” she said. “People in programs spoke so highly of Easterseals and people running the programs were just passionate people who were doing great work.”