Meet Michelle Hines of UCP/CLASS!
TNotes: What is your job title?
MH: Technology Director
TNotes: How did you get into working in nonprofit technology?
MH: I never planned to work in technology. I started at UCP/CLASS (formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh) on January 2, 2000, as a Masters of Social Work intern. My first task was to go around and install the Y2K patch on all the computers at the agency. When I finished the task quickly and fixed a hard drive on a computer, I sealed my fate as the “intern who would fix the computer.” UCP needed help with technology and I loved the organization, so I never left after my internship completed.
TNotes: What do you like best about dealing with your organization’s technology?
MH: One of the best things about UCP's situation has been that we went from having no network a decade ago to having a sophisticated system. That experience of growing with the network in my skills has been an opportunity that I know that most professionals would never get in their lifetime. I've been in the trenches lugging new computers around, and I've been involved in planning the next year's goals for the network. That variety makes every day unique.
TNotes: What do you least like about dealing with your organization’s technology?
MH: Change. Change is so hard to manage and with technology always advancing, it is a factor of my job that I have to address each day. I would much rather be on the phone with Microsoft support based in a foreign country rather than explaining to my staff why we are upgrading a system or why we have to turn off the servers for software updates.
TNotes: What is your big dream for technology in your organization?
MH: The ideal situation for UCP is to have a network that is invisible to the user no matter where they are working, and so that they do not need to worry about the availability of our network. That would allow our staff to build confidence in using the technology we are providing them, and it would allow for more mobile options for staff that are primarily out in the field during their workday.
TNotes: How do you manage your technology role within your organization?
MH: This question makes me think of all the surveys that technology vendors send out asking what your role is, and I end up checking about eight of the ten options! There are so many roles that I have to play that some might say I have multiple personalities. I have been concentrating more on providing leadership and guidance while communicating better with management and staff in the past year. I find my job much easier to complete when others understand where we are moving the technology to, and why we are moving the technology in that direction.
TNotes: You are a regular attendee at one of the Bayer Center’s Bagels & Bytes groups – what do you get from going to those meetings?
MH: Bagels and Bytes is like group therapy. You can vent about your problems, you can hear possible solutions for your problems, and you can help others with their problems. Everyone comes with unique backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge, and I have never left Bagels and Bytes without a resource to look up when I get back to the office. It is great to get away from the office and rub elbows with others like yourself.
TNotes: Any words of advice or encouragement for other nonprofit techies out there?
MH: I haven't been asked to provide this plug, but if you are a nonprofit techie who does not know about NTEN- you need to look into this organization. The Bayer Center got me connected with NTEN (http://www.nten.org), and it has been the best technology investment that I got approved by our management. They are one of my “go-to” resources when I am struggling with anything. With the combination of NTEN and the Bayer Center, I always find some answer for the next step. Those types of resources are vital in this role, and you can never have enough good resources.