Meet the Team: Julia Smith, Director, INN Labs

A number of people sit on a sectional couch underneath a projection screen.
Julia, second from left, participated in a data journalism panel during the Walkley Storyology conference last summer.

In part 3 of our "Meet the Team" series, we'll get to know Julia Smith, our awesome director!

Julia joined the team in February of 2016 as our design lead, stepped in full-force as acting director in February, and now guides us all with her fearless leadership.

Julia is a data journalist and technologist who has experience in news design and software development in addition to agency experience. She joined us in 2016 from the Center for Investigative Reporting, where she was a Knight-Mozilla Fellow and news application developer.

And, that's not all! Her work has also been recognized with an IRE Philip Meyer Award and a NATAS Emmy Award for New Approaches in Current News Coverage. Her editorial work has appeared in National Geographic, Reveal, The Chicago Reporter, and The Omaha World-Herald.

Here's some lesser-known facts about Julia, in her own words:

Where are you from?

Omaha, Nebraska.

How long have you been at INN?

1 year, 4 months.

What's your title and what do you do?

Director, INN Labs – I lead this (fabulous!) team, provide direction on product development and client projects, and still do a bit of coding.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Developing innovative products that lay the foundation for independent news orgs to present their best work online.

Where do you get your news?

Podcasts from NPR, Reveal, NYTimes; Twitter for general news from Axios, Washington Post, ProPublica, local sources; Print subscriptions for Bitch Media and the Sunday Omaha World-Herald.

Who or what inspires you?

Bravery.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I enjoy visiting museums, playing piano, and searching for the best sour beers.

What's your favorite part of working remotely?

The flexibility to work from anywhere.

What's your favorite or most unusual place you've worked from?

Most unusual: the backseat of a moving Subaru somewhere on I-29 between Omaha and Kansas City.

Favorite place: Oakland, CA.

What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?

INTJ/INTP.

Favorite kind of pie?

Apple – not at all exciting but totally delicious.

What cartoon character would you be?

Schroeder from Peanuts.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Time travel.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Dogs, definitely. Kittens are cute from a distance.

Favorite album or book?

Lateralus (Tool).

Favorite place you've traveled to?

Queenstown, NZ – it's super beautiful.

Most recently used gif?

A woman dramatically turns to face the camera, and points at you. She speaks, and as she does so, words appear in the background: YOU GOT THIS.

Describe yourself in 5 emojis or less.

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Meet the Team: Kay Lima, Support & Community Lead

Photo credit: Laura Bertocci

In Part 2 of our "Meet the Team" series, we'll get to know Kay Lima, our Support & Community Lead.

Kay joined the team in January of this year to support our members and clients, helping them make the best possible use of the tools we build – and she's been a driving force ever since. Not only does she own our support process and evangelize our work, but she's spearheaded internal operational improvements, is a fierce project manager, and she's really brought the team together by introducing us to all sorts of team-building techniques.

More from Kay, in her own words:

Where are you from?

Originally from MA, now living in sunny Denver, CO.

How would you describe what you do?

My official title is Support & Community Lead; I oversee the support, documentation and training for Largo and the plugins we maintain, provide Google Analytics, AdWords, and SEO consulting, some front-end development and also manage website projects.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Helping our incredible members and working with such a fantastic team!

What are some noteworthy projects you've worked on at INN?

So far, I've revamped our support Help Desk (support.largoproject.org) and our project management process, presented a webinar on Google AdWords and Ad Grants, and have directly helped 60 different members with ongoing support.

Where do you get your news?

TheSkimm, Alexa flash briefings, NPR, Vice News/Viceland, NYTimes (the Sunday paper edition), Snapchat, and Twitter.

Who or what inspires you?

Tony Hsieh (for team culture and customer service), April Bloomfield (general awesomeness), girls who code (and their inspiring projects) and my wonderful mother.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I'm really proud of graduating from a rigorous full-stack bootcamp focusing on JavaScript and PHP-based stacks.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love hiking, running, and skateboarding with my husband and our dog. You can also find me at a craft brewery or cafe, local tech meetup, farmers market, or working on a personal coding or brush lettering project.

What's your favorite part of working remotely?

Working with my dog!

What's your favorite kind of pie?

Chess.

What's your personality type?

INFJ.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

A Midas touch of sorts, except instead of turning what I touch to gold, it would instantly solve problems and eliminate suffering.

What's your favorite album?

This is really hard... A three-way tie between: Fugazi - The Argument, The Clash - Combat Rock and Verdi's La Traviata recorded at the Met with Pavarotti and Studer, conducted by James Levine.

Favorite place you've traveled to?

Sicily. What an incredibly wild and beautiful place! I spent time there (and elsewhere in Italy) working on organic farms and eating... lots of eating.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Definitely a dog person. 🙂

Most recently used gif:

And lastly, describe yourself in 5 emojis or less:

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Meet the Team: Ben Keith, News Apps Developer

Ben Keith - News Apps Developer
Photo credit: Laura Bertocci

Over the next few weeks, we'll be highlighting everyone on the small-but-mighty INN Labs team. It's only fitting that today we'll start with Ben Keith since he's been on the team the longest!

Ben is our News Apps Developer and has been with INN for 2 and a half years. His role involves building WordPress sites and plugins, providing support for our Largo and plugin users and maintaining his reign as the team's undisputed trivia champion. He has been an integral part of site redesigns for our members and is especially proud of his work on the Pym Shortcode plugin.

Get to know him more (in his own words) below:

Where are you from?

Currently: Columbus, Ohio.
Formerly: the DC area.

What's your favorite part of your job?

(jokingly) The commute.

Where do you get your news?

WaPo, NYT, ProPublica, Guardian US, Quartz, The Dispatch, The Lantern, Washington Times, WOSU, NPR, Ars Technica,  and a bunch of fellow news nerds I follow on Twitter.

Who or what inspires you?

Massive open-source projects, like WordPress, the Linux kernel, The Internet Archive, and Archive of Our Own.

Also, organizations that combine advocacy and legal work, like the ACLU, the EFF, and the Organization for Transformative Works.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Papercraft, reading, reading, and various small web projects.

What's your favorite part of working remotely?

It allows me to spend a lot more time with my family. I have worked from my parents' house, a friend's house, from the waiting room of a doctor's office, from libraries and airports. I can go places and see people without having to take (as much) leave.

What's your favorite kind of pie?

Oreo. It's almost completely unlike pie.

What cartoon character would you be?

The one who was handed unstoppable power, but hesitates to use it. Or a librarian.

What's your spirit animal?

An osprey.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

In most genre fic, straight-up future knowledge is crippled by either the mechanics of the power or the mechanics of the universe. If it's available, sure, I'd take it, but otherwise I think I would go for something more useful. So some sort of Tinker/Thinker power.

What's your favorite book?

The Mars Trilogy.

Favorite place you've traveled to?

Philmont, New Mexico. It was 10 days of hiking in some gorgeous terrain, while still having the comforts of pumped water and hot food.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Cat. ?

Most recently used gif:

And lastly, describe yourself in 5 emojis or less:

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