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My Story

Shawna James

Community and Events Manager

Colour: Lime Green

Book: Letters to a Young Poet

Pets: Yes, Nova! Named after the smoked salmon; nicest dog to ever live

Make your network reflect the kind of people you want to work with and who have the careers you want to have.

How did you start in community management? What was your career path across the years?

I come from an arts admin background. I used to be an actor and director but moved over to the admin side in 2018.
I worked for the March for Our Lives: Boston movement which first introduced me to community building through activism.
My administrative work led me to work on a 137 acre organic farm and artist residency in upstate New York where I ran events and launched their farm share program to get fresh farm vegetables to the town. This experience led me to invest deeper in community first working at an international arts granting and advocacy organization with the Boards of Directors community and now at the PreSales Collective; I’ve been everywhere!

What have been the main challenges of your career?

Pivoting and telling my story to land me a job Imposter syndrome Data driven community work Events in a pandemic / Zoom fatigue

What have helped you develop yourself as a community professional?

The Community Club, CMX Mentorship, Attending events and Networking.

What is community for you?

Community has meant many things to me over the years. At 16, it meant my students: the 63 Pre-k – 7th graders that I taught music and songwriting to, who now send me invitations to their college graduations.
When I was building a Community Supported Agriculture program in Brewster, NY, it meant traveling to my members’ houses who did not have access to transportation in order to bring them a weekly delivery of farm-fresh organic vegetables; and oftentimes staying for a cup of tea to catch up on our lives.
As I have continued in my career, Community has become a practice, passion, and profound mindset in which I approach and measure the efficacy of my practices and work.
Presently, with the support of connections thru online Community spaces like The Community Club, I understand that Community encompasses the systems and measurements we can use to deepen our empathic understanding and hospitality of those we serve in order to afford people essential, life changing connections not only to product, but to each other as well.

What's one single strategy that you may suggest to increase member engagement?

Interview your members to ask what they are interested in! Stop making assumptions

What would you recommend to those just starting into community management?

Find those who will support and advocate for you! Make your network reflect the kind of people you want to work with and who have the careers you want to have.

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