Esri Nonprofit Specialty: Enabling Nonprofits to Use GIS for Greater Impact

Innovate is a proud member of the Esri Nonprofit Specialty. Partners receive this Nonprofit Specialty designation for their alignment with and their knowledge and expertise of Esri’s Nonprofit Organization Program. Additionally, we demonstrate experience with projects in areas such as conservation, community development, racial equity and social justice, health, and more.

The Esri Nonprofit Program provides nonprofit organizations low cost licenses and access to Esri’s vast offerings of location intelligence tools and training. We are proud to support a wide variety of nonprofit clients – including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Arbor Day Foundation (ADF), and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) – in using these location intelligence tools to help inform decisions and shape programs that meet the needs of their constituents. Receiving the Esri Nonprofit Specialty designation is an exciting next step in furthering our mission to help nonprofit and NGO clients achieve their goals.

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Innovate! Inc. Awarded HRSA HAB-Specific Portfolio Management and Business Services Task Order

Innovate! Inc. (Innovate) is proud to announce the award of the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) HAB-Specific Portfolio Management and Business Services Task Order. HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) administers the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) which funds grants to states, cities, counties, and local community-based organizations to provide care and treatment services to people with HIV to improve health outcomes and reduce HIV transmission among hard-to-reach populations. Under this five-year task order, Innovate will support HAB in its oversight and management of IT investments that support a variety of data and information management purposes related to RWHAP implementation. This task order will involve enhanced strategic planning and data driven decision-making for HAB’s IT portfolio, studies relevant to portfolio management, and business solution consulting for process automation. This is a competitively awarded task order under Innovate’s CIOSP3 SB contract vehicle.    

Innovate Cloud Advisory Service’s Director Rebecca Thomas notes, “We are honored to have been selected as a HRSA partner in support of the critically important HAB initiatives. We recognize the significance of HAB’s mission, and we are very excited to deliver IT portfolio management solutions that have a direct and positive impact on the RWHAP community.” The RWHAP has proved to be an incredibly impactful and critical component of the response to HIV/AIDS. More than half of the people diagnosed with HIV in the United States receive services through RWHAP, and those individuals receiving services through RWHAP have a viral suppression rate of nearly 90%, compared to a national average under 70%. 

Innovate is proud to work with HAB and continue our 19 years of support for health-related missions serving organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and US Department of Interior (DOI).  

Innovate’s Core Values in Action: Employee Satisfaction Survey Results

Innovate Staff Meet “Covid-Style” for a Remote Coffee Happy Hour

Employee satisfaction is more than a metric at Innovate – it is part of our company culture. More than ever, Innovate continues to focus on our company culture.  Working together, we have created an organization that can be an example of what is possible when value is placed in people.  Innovate’s three core values are:

  • Love and Value Human Beings
  • Just Let Me At It
  • It’s Personal

The Innovate Leadership Team intentionally crafted these values, not as something that would translate commercially, but as core principles that deeply resonated. “It took us a while to pick those because we wanted something that really, really called to ourselves; that meant something to each of us when we were doing it. At the end, what we got were heartfelt. Even though you don’t see it out there very often as the typical core values and mission, this is what really called to us; this is who we really are,“ Lily Thomas, Innovate President.

In our 2021 Employee Satisfaction Survey, we are proud to highlight what our employees had to say about being part of team Innovate!

I have someone at work who has my back?  95% answered yes!

Monica Hager, Proposal Manager, “My 7-year tenure at Innovate! Inc. has been the most extraordinary experience of being loved and valued as a human being. At Innovate, the focus is on the intrinsic opportunities at hand to be creative, be resourceful, take initiative, take risks, risk failing, provide leadership—no matter how big or small the task—while at the same time nurturing, challenging, respecting, trusting, and empowering each other. ‘What do you need’ and ‘how can I help’ are questions I often hear, and often ask. We work as ‘we,’ – a team, not ‘I’ versus ‘them’.”

In the past year have you had opportunities to grow and develop new skills?  100% answered yes!

Bryce Bradshaw, Junior GIS Technician, who has been with Innovate for almost 2 years, “I like working here because I am constantly able to learn new skills.”

Lisa Jackson, Senior GIS Analyst, “I have learned so much since joining Innovate. Even more important, I am supported, encouraged, and valued for my skills and expertise. The culture of our remote workplace has given me the flexibility to grow and learn in so many ways.”

In the last 6 Months has someone at work talked to you about your progress? 95% said yes

Rachel Guinn, System Administrator and Org Salesforce Support CAS/BMC, “It’s refreshing to have regular meetings with key people on my team that will give me constructive criticism and help me grow as well as review all the progress made over time. It really helps!”

Hilary Kelly, Operations Manager for CAS/BMC, “Innovate’s leadership is very committed to investing in their employees. Whether in the form of financial contributions, paid time, mentorship, or stretch opportunities, they ensure the whole team has support and multiple avenues to continue growing personally and professionally. In line with the firm’s values, they also take the time to individually recognize each team member’s accomplishments and celebrate their success. This collective commitment to skills development and growth is not only a key part of our culture, it is also essential to maintaining elite delivery for our clients.”

Is there someone at work who encourages your development? 86% said yes

Amanda Knight, GIS/IT Project Coordinator, has been part of the Innovate team since 2017. “The Innovate IT team is amazing at what they can do and pull off. Always super impressed with the way we inspire each other to fulfill our goals, I now have my Bachelor’s Degree!”

Nancy Vosburgh, Project Manager for CAS/BMC, “Over the past 9 years, Innovate has provided me unwavering support to grow my skills and build the career I envisioned for myself. The most important light guiding my journey has been learning from Innovate’s tireless leadership team, my wildly smart co-workers, and our passionate clients.”

Does your supervisor or someone at work seem to care about you as a person? 100% said yes.

Mark Gordon, SharePoint Developer for CAS/BMC, “I started working with Innovate in early 2016. Prior to that, I was a traveling consultant working just about everywhere for everyone. Unfortunately, during that time, I felt very little care from management or my employers in general. Day to day life was all about deadlines, deliverables, and budget. I’m now part of an ever-growing family of Innovators, supported by our management in ways I never thought possible. In fact, words like management are rarely even spoken because it’s unnecessary. Here, your manager is your teammate that makes sure you have what you need to Innovate!”

Innovate Employee Spotlight for Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovate President Lily Thomas

Why is it essential to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? What does it mean to you/why is it important to recognize it?  

Well, as you can imagine I’m very proud to be Mexican, even though I’ve lived here, gosh longer than I lived in Mexico.  For me, it’s very personal.  I believe it’s important to recognize it and remind ourselves and raise awareness that this country is full of immigrants.  Sometimes people don’t recognize it, or they just don’t want to.  So, this is a great opportunity to remind us that we are all equal and that there are other immigrants in this country. I am very happy that they do it and I love the festivals that they do. I love all the events that occur during this time, because even for me, with my children, it helps me have another place where I can show them the traditions, the culture, the food, everything. I think it’s great that they do it. As a Mexican, I really thank the country for taking the time to celebrate us Hispanics. 

What is one struggle you see affecting the Latinx people in our community and what solution would you recommend/what do you think needs to be done? 

The first one that comes to my mind right away is that we’re not treated equally. We’re often seen as coming from third world countries and people who cannot contribute a lot to this country – when in reality, Latinos have made a long-lasting and very far-reaching impact on the world, not just here in our country. I don’t know a specific solution, other than educating people so they view all people as equal.  That’s one of the struggles that I have and that I see other people going through as well. 

 What were specific challenges you faced starting Innovate as a Hispanic woman? 

One of the first challenges I faced is people saw me as a foreigner. They look at your education as one of the first things (oh, you didn’t graduate from a well-known American university). Yes, we were denied certifications when we first started the company, because of my lack of a college degree at the beginning. Then the other challenge was speaking the English language. I was denied employment during my first years here in the U.S. because of my thick accent and lack of understanding of U.S. slang. So those were some of my struggles personally. 

How has your Latin heritage influenced your professional career? 

Growing up in a lower-income Mexico household, I learned to appreciate things early in life.  You grow up with certain things and you live beneath your means, and I learned that I need to work hard to get where I want to go. So, that’s what I’ve been doing since we created Innovate, and I mean even before focusing on Innovate.  I knew that if we want to go farther, it was like, “You gotta go, go, go, go, girl.” And that’s what we do, we just work really hard. 

What is the one thing you hope others will appreciate about the Hispanic culture? Or what is one thing you’d like others to know about your heritage? 

That we are a hardworking people and that we’re not here to steal anybody’s jobs. We’re very loving, compassionate people, and I would really love for other people to know that.  I came to this country for love, but there’s so many, many people that come to this country for work and finding a better future for themselves and their family. And so, now, I just think that that’s one big thing about Latin people, that we are a very hardworking people. That’s one of the things that I’m very proud of. 

How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life? 

My family is really hardworking. I learned at a young age that if I really wanted to get somewhere or get something, I needed to work hard, and that’s what I did. 

I started working when I was 10 years old, helping other people in flea markets to sell things and it’s because that’s what I learned from my family, that’s what I saw all the time. You want something, you go outside and you work. You don’t stay home. You don’t stay watching TV. You spend your week going to school and doing homework and then on the weekends I work all day Saturdays and Sundays. It’s just what I learned from my whole family whose always been very hardworking. I just love it because it’s something where you just watch and learn “if I want that, this is what I have to do. I’m not going to get it while I sit here and watch TV.” 

What, if any, challenges did you face on your way to corporate success because of your gender or ethnicity? 

My biggest challenge more than anything was the language, trying to understand and learn English, because it was not just learning English. It was the business English, all the terms and the acronyms.  There were so many things getting into business – that was one of my biggest challenges, even understanding the culture of business. I fought to not just be seen as a Mexican woman. That was hard, because I’m a woman to begin with, and in the business world there are a lot of men out there. So you come representing Innovate, and they’re like, “oh, woman, Mexican.” So, I had to fight against some of those stereotypes of what a traditional businessperson was. 

At the beginning of Innovate, when I was going to meetings, certification seminars, etc. and they’re like, “Oh, you’re a woman” – and then my name doesn’t help, Lily Thomas.  Then they’ll see me that I come over here, dark skinned.  And they are like “Oh, I thought you were Lily Thomas, not Mexican,” but it was one of the big challenges. Yes, the language was my biggest challenge, mostly because I had to learn it all, the language and culture of business. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a businessperson? 

I did, I always did. Well, while I was in Mexico studying, I initially wanted to be a lawyer, but then I began to think about having a business. It was a nerve-racking thing at first but thinking through what we could do to change the government was inspiring. I could picture it because I wanted to make a change in government – that was my main goal. Going through the immigration process, which was painful, and many who have gone through the process can likely relate. So, I was inspired to help fix our federal systems and make them better for everybody else. As a businesswoman I could see that we could make a change in the world, in the government, and make lives better. 

Which characteristics do you think every leader should possess? 

Determination, passion, strength and lots of patience. Those 4 traits resonate with me. You need a lot of determination and patience in getting things started and seeing it all through. For example, in the certification process there was a lot of patience in seeing if we were going to be approved, what other documentation we needed to provide. Patience also because when something doesn’t go well, I mean, what are you going to do, just smack your head against the wall? No, we have to think about what else we can do. Be patient; things that are not happening the way you want to happen, you need to be patient and have strength and hope. Things have happened. I think we’ve been doing pretty well, and we remain patient and hopeful together. 

Is there anything that you would advise like another Hispanic woman who wants to start a business? 

First of all, I’d say “Don’t give up.” In this world it’s really easy to give up once you hit a wall. You need to be strong and keep that faith up and just work hard. Show the world that you can do it. You are capable. That’s what I kept telling myself. I am so lucky to have my husband who is a big believer in me that I can do things that I didn’t think I was able to do. He helps me see how big I can be and where I can get. You know, it’s a lot of work on ourselves as I believe all that. So one of the first things is really don’t give up because we can do it. 

What is your favorite thing about leading Innovate? 

Getting to know people. I love getting to know who works for us. I’m thankful for the people I get to know internally, for our partners and clients.  

Then it is all the changes we’re making in government. As long as we make a change, I don’t care how tiny it is, but each change we make impacts people. I just love it, and I’m very proud of it.   

How did you come up with our corporate mission and core values?  What do they mean to you?   

It took us a while to pick those because we wanted something that really, really called to ourselves; that meant something to each of us when we were doing it. At the end, what we got, those values that were heartfelt. Even though you don’t see it out there very often as the typical core values and mission, this is what really called to us; this is who we really are. I am somebody personally who cares about people.  When somebody says, “She’s my boss,” I say, “You know, we work together.” I’m not more than anybody just because I’m the President of Innovate. I’m just like everybody else. I’m very proud and grateful that I get to be a part of a group of people who are so committed to make a difference with others and with the world. And so, these core values are not commercial; they are not something that is going to sell maybe, but this is who we are, really great. I don’t care if somebody is going to judge us because we are not typical, but this is who Innovate is. So when our leadership team was all around the table, I remember everybody agreeing that this is what calls me, this is what I want. I’m truly very proud of what we are and our core values and our mission. 

What’s something that most people don’t know about you? 

There are so many things, but maybe people don’t know that one of my biggest passions is that I love to travel, I love to dance, and even though I love nature, I hate camping.  I love salsa dancing. As you know, I was born in the north of Mexico, so we do a lot of what is called cumbia which is more like a traditional dance in every state. Whenever there’s music, I’m one of the ones who are going to be dancing at the side of the table in a restaurant. 

Italy has been my favorite place that we have traveled.  Its culture is very similar to Mexico – family oriented, very warm and the food is amazing. I love going to the little towns more than the big cities and I love history. I could spend months in Rome though, just learning about all the history. I’m all about people, so wherever I feel like I’ve been very welcomed with warmth is where I love to go.  

Is there anything else you would like your employees to know that we haven’t covered? 

One thing that I want everybody to know is that I care for each of them and that they are appreciated. 

Helping Fight Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans

The presence of plastics in the world’s water systems is a critical environmental and health crisis. They cause pollution by entering natural ecosystems from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. Compounding on the threat of plastics is inefficiencies in current recycling practices. Our current model for recycling relies on consumers to recycle. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generate more than 267 million tons of solid waste every year. In 2017, only 94.2 million tons (35%) of that waste was either recycled or composted and only 8% of discarded plastics were recycled that year.

Image: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Plastics Material Specific Data

Kamilo, a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to the reduction of global plastic waste, has partnered with Innovate to track the journey of plastic from waste to a recycled product. Kamilo buys plastics from municipalities (e.g., 2000lbs of plastic) and ensures that the plastic is actually recycled/reused. Leveraging the power of geographic information system (GIS), Kamilo creates a verifiable link between plastic recovered and its actual re-use through global supply chain tracking. This model provides businesses that sell recyclable plastic (e.g., bottles) a way to guarantee that their plastic output is matched in recycled material via real-time geospatial verification of source and successful recovery. This innovative technology brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the global plastics supply chain and recycled plastics markets.

Innovate is helping Kamilo’s data management by using blockchain to store data and provide verification of accuracy. Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. Using blockchain ensures indisputable evidence that the plastic asset existed and tracked to its final resting place. This is a unique solution because it merges GIS data with blockchain’s data model.

Kamilo’s innovative approach offers businesses a way to take ownership of their plastic footprint in the environment and deter plastics from entering the world’s water systems. As a green-focused company, Innovate is proud to be a partner in this effort.

Innovate! Celebrates the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies 2021

Clean air is critical to the environment and human health. As awareness on this important issue increases, communities are calling for action to improve air quality around the world and the United Nations General Assembly has designated 7 September as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The theme for this year’s International Day of Clean Air for blue skies is “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet” which emphasizes the health effects of air pollution, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Day aims to prioritize the need for healthy air while keeping conversations broad enough to encompass other critical issues such as climate change, human and planetary health as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. It serves as a rallying call to action to collectively align efforts and claim the right to clean air.

As a small business team with a focus on supporting green missions, Innovate understands the importance of clean air and we have supported several initiatives to help protect communities from poor air quality.

Innovate uses AirNow data – the biggest network of air sensors across the country – to monitor air quality across the Environmental Protection’s Agency (EPA) Region 9s servicing Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, and 148 Tribal Nations. Air Quality Index (AQI) values are received from monitoring sites that report to AirNow. AQI levels of health concern inform the population how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern. Innovate developed a custom notification system, leveraging email and MMS, to notify users (e.g., EPA Office of Air and Radiation) when the air quality dips below a certain threshold within their area of interests. Innovate also developed an ArcGIS Hub Site with embedded maps and statistics to provide useful information at-a-glance. In addition, we have developed custom widgets such as the Wind and Smoke for EPA’s Common Operating Picture (COP).

Another way Innovate helps with air quality is as a subcontractor to EPA for the National Air Toxic Assessment (NATA) web application. This application displays data about air quality and air quality monitors. Innovate built several widgets, two of them being custom widgets for this application (Change Symbology and Summary). The change symbology widget allows the user to the change symbology of data layers within the application including modifying classes, the number of classes and the field that the symbology is based on. The Summary tool allows the user to explore the statistics behind several of the data layers (Cancer Risk, Respiratory Hazard Index, and Ambient Concentrations) based on a user defined area. The statistics produced by this widget are dependent on the layer selected but include the number of features selected, minimum, maximum, average, and for the Cancer Risk data, Cancer Risk weighted by Population.

Innovate also currently supports as a subcontractor the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation’s Engines and Vehicles Compliance Information Systems (EV-CIS). EV-CIS collects emissions and fuel economy compliance information for all types of vehicles (mobile sources of air pollution) which includes light-duty, heavy-duty, nonroad engines and motorcycles. Engine and vehicle manufacturers report this information to the system.

Together, we can help improve our quality of air around the world. Healthy Air, Healthy Planet!

Innovate! Inc. Awarded Arbor Day Foundation’s Corporate Partners Dashboard Contract

Innovate! Inc. (Innovate) is proud to announce the award of Arbor Day Foundation’s Corporate Partners Dashboard contract. The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the world’s largest operating conservation organizations, with more than one million members, supporters, and valued partners. Due to their efforts, more than 350 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities, and forests throughout the world. Under this contract, Innovate will develop an accessible, dynamic, and visually compelling application to help showcase Arbor Day Foundation’s corporate partner impact. This is a new competitively awarded contract for Innovate.

Arbor Day Foundation’s vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty, and hunger. Innovate is excited to support Arbor Day Foundation in elevating their impact reporting, simplifying their potential and current partner relationship experience, and telling more accessible and science-informed stories. This contract will involve leveraging geographic information systems (GIS), system architecture design, web application development, backend data management and integration, dashboard creation, and operations and maintenance support.

Innovate GIS/IT Director Frank Roberts notes, “My team and I are very excited about working with the Arbor Day Foundation.  This project will help individuals and organizations understand the impact of their donations on communities and forests across the world.”

Innovate is proud to work with Arbor Day Foundation and continue our 19 years of support for environmental missions serving organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Department of Interior (DOI), and the Idaho Forest Group. Innovate has also previously provided GIS capabilities for non-profit organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Catholic Relief Services. We are particularly excited to support Arbor Day Foundation’s mission, as Innovate is also a “green” company, reducing company carbon emissions through our entirely remote staff and sponsoring the Global Cooling Network, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving our nation’s forests and the environment.

About Innovate! Inc: More Than a Consulting Company

Innovate provides expertise in geospatial, information technology, cloud advisory, and management and business consulting services. The talent pool at Innovate, led by renowned industry leaders, consists of a multi-disciplinary team of analysts; information management and technology specialists (IM/IT); geospatial professionals; technical experts; regulatory specialists; and project and program management consultants. Innovate, established in 2002, is a woman- and minority-owned “green” small business providing results-driven solutions to solve mission-critical problems. Innovate has an award-winning history of delivering state-of-the-art services and solutions to federal, state, tribal, local government, and private industry clients.

Innovate’s Salesforce Product Owner Team Lead Recognized as Tableau Ambassador

Stacey Cogswell, Innovate’s Salesforce Product Owner Team Lead, was recently recognized as a Tableau CRM Ambassador. Formerly Einstein Analytics, Tableau CRM Ambassadors are power users of the native analytics and AI solution for Salesforce. They love to share their expertise in this specialized platform, and provide a bridge between the Salesforce Trailblazer community and the Tableau community.

In 2019, Salesforce launched the Analytics Champion Program. The Analytics Champion Program was for Salesforce Trailblazers who wanted to share their advanced knowledge with peers while evangelizing the power of the Einstein Analytics Platform. An expert on the Platform, Stacey was ready to be considered for the first cohort of Analytics Champions. An application and acceptance later, Stacey was rewarded with opportunities to collaborate more closely with Salesforce product teams and was given opportunities to present at Salesforce and community events, webinars, and support workshops.

For Stacey, being a Tableau CRM Ambassador is a carry over from her time as an Analytics Champion. Programs such as this open doors to share knowledge of the Platform with the larger Salesforce community. Stacey has shared hands-on workshops with Salesforce users across the country, including the Oakland Salesforce Saturday and Houston Salesforce User Group. 

Trailblazers are pioneers, innovators, and lifelong learners. They inspire others with their constant innovation, by transforming the customer experience, and by growing their careers. Trailblazers drive change.” Colin Fleming | SVP, Global Brand & Cross Product Marketing, Salesforce

Find out more about Stacey in our employee spotlight when she was recognized as a 4th time Salesforce MVP early this year.

Innovate is a woman-and-minority owned small business providing expertise in Geospatial, Information Technology, Cloud Advisory, and Business Management Consulting services. We provide services to a range of partners including Federal, State, Tribal and local government clients and private industry. Innovate is a Silver Partner company in the global Esri Partner Network that has demonstrated innovative and creative ways to solve our client’s greatest challenges, using geospatial analytics tools.

Innovate Employee Spotlight: Max Marno, GIS Developer

What is your role at Innovate? 

I am a GIS Developer and I build and maintain mapping software, both desktop and web-based applications.

What have been some of your top accomplishments and success stories?

I’ve been proud to launch our Drone Services offering. We’re on an exciting trajectory – I look forward to drumming up more business and being able to compete in this emerging marketplace. Innovate bought a drone in late 2020 and I completed a demo project for the City of Driggs, Idaho. From there, we secured a couple of paying projects through word of mouth. The actual flying of the drones is the easiest part; the flight planning and post-processing of the data afterward is what takes most of the time and effort.

What has been your favorite project so far?

Revamping the Wind Widget for EPA Region 9 has been an ongoing project that I’ve enjoyed. The result is a very stimulating visualization of forecasted wind vectors based on a few different models. Behind the scenes there’s a lot going on to download, preprocess, and convert the data into a format where it can be displayed in the browser. I appreciate working with the complicated wind model data, and take part in the widget design.  

What does Innovate’s mission and core values mean to you?

Part of the reason that I chose to take a job with Innovate is that those core values resonate with me. I believe in having integrity behind the work that you do and taking an interest in the people you work with on a personal level outside of work. The environmental stewardship that Innovate is participating in is really respectable and hopefully setting an example for other companies in our industry, and of our size.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I honestly like what I do most of the time. I like problem-solving, I like learning and both I get to do on the job a fair bit. The reward that comes with kind of wrapping your head around something and figuring out the solution or what needs to be done is gratifying.

What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

I suppose all of these are going to sound fairly cliched but careers have been around for a while. I think if I try to deal with things as quickly as possible and not leave loose ends that would be the first I think. The second would be to ask for help. Definitely I’ve had and still do have instances where just asking someone else for their opinion or asking someone a question would have saved a lot of time; so not letting your pride get in the way or hubris is important. This is probably related but I think distinct enough to mention as the third, sometimes I think the best way to solve a problem is to set it down for a little while. Most of us have a tendency to just keep pulling on and on until it’s impossible to untie.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I grew up kind of in a rural part of Wyoming, and we had all sorts of animals running around all the time. I grew up with a pet donkey. His name was Wister (after Own Wister) and he was kind of the equivalent of a big dog who lived into his 20’s. He was a character and a great part of my childhood. While he wasn’t allowed in the house, per se, he figured out how to open the front door, and would try to come inside sometimes.

Innovate Employee Spotlight: Michael Logsdon, Change Management Subject Matter Expert

What is your role at Innovate? 

I am the Change Management Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Innovate. I focus on the people aspect of projects, which means making sure users are prepared to adopt the solutions our team develops. This involves aligning leadership of an organization around a change, building champions, communicating with all stakeholders, developing training, and establishing a plan to drive adoption and sustain the change.  

Why is change management important?  

We can build the best solution, but without change management, people either won’t know it exists or won’t know how to use it. If a solution isn’t marketed to users and explained how it works and how it will benefit them, they’re less likely to change and adopt the new solution. But when change management is part of a solution, people are more likely to understand the benefits and make the changes necessary for long-term adoption.   

What attracted you to apply at Innovate? How did you decide to work here? 

Before Innovate, my industry and job were impacted by COVID-19. As I reflected on what I wanted to do next in my career, I knew I wanted to do work with purpose and social impact. Innovate’s work with organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resonated with me. At the end of my career, I can point to my work here and know I helped make a difference. 

Also, I had never worked with a small company, so I was curious what that was like. I gave it a test ride as an independent contractor, and I found a great culture at Innovate. There was camaraderie, collaboration, and people willing to help each other. Working for a small business, it’s easier to get to know your co-workers, and Innovate maintains a close-knit workplace culture. It’s what convinced me to sign on the dotted line as an employee.  

What do Innovate’s mission and core values mean to you? 

What Innovate’s core value of “Love and Respect Human Beings” means to me is that the company cares about people and does work that makes a difference. Those are two of the factors I looked for in a role. Innovate not only maintains positive relationships with clients but also prioritizes the employees. The people-first aspect of Innovate is reflected in the work and how we interact with each other.  

What have been some of your top career lessons you’ve learned so far?  

If you’ve had to make a career change because of the pandemic, take time to reflect and identify three or four things that are important to you and make those the criteria for your next position. If you love the people aspect of projects, then change management is the place to be.  

Some general career advice: try to be open-minded and an active listener. We all think we know best, but when you’re surrounded by bright people, it’s valuable to sometimes be quiet and learn from others. Also, you don’t always have to be the leader. Even if you’re in a leadership position, it can be valuable to take a back seat and give others the opportunity to take the wheel. Lastly, it’s okay to take risks and fail, as long as you fail quickly and learn from those failures. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you won’t be penalized if you take that failure and move forward. Failure is key to innovation and progress, so you shouldn’t be afraid of it.