In this interview, Cate has mentioned that she is also a volunteer for WordCamp US. In their free time, she loves to read, do horseback riding, and do water sports.
Hello. My name is Cate. I’m currently the Expansion Lead at The HeroPress Network and Marketing Lead for Big Orange Heart’s WordFest Live. I’m also a volunteer for WordCamp US.
I love to read, water sports, horseback riding, and am actively downsizing life so my husband and I can live in our RV, Agnes, full time starting in the spring of 2022.
Before I entered the WordPress community, I home schooled our girls all the way from Kindergarten through graduating high school and have been involved in open source since 1996.
Q. How did you get to know about WordPress? Share if there is an interesting story.
Ans: I learned about WordPress from my developer husband in the early 2000s. In 2010, we made the decision to use it as the basis for our family’s single income and freelance full time.
Over the next few years I became more involved in our local WordPress community and in 2015 began traveling to more regional and national WordCamps, often as a family.
It was at WordCamp Milwaukee, as I was standing off to the side feeling awkward and alone, that I realized I needed to either embrace the community and find a place for myself, or give up and quit going.
I choose to put the work in to find my place, and while frustrating at times, it’s also been amazing. The people that I’ve met and the things that I’ve learned have changed my life, and the lives of those around me.
Now I actively work to create an engaging environment where others can feel welcome to step out of their comfort zones and build their own amazing relationships.
Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done to date in WordPress? What were your responsibilities?
Ans: Working on WordFest Live in 2021– a 24 hour global virtual event to help support Big Orange Heart, all volunteer managed — has definitely been my biggest project yet.
It was my first major role in marketing (I was marketing lead) and our very small team of organizers brought the first one to life in just about 3 months.
We started when WCUS 2020 was cancelled and pulled it all together by the third week of January, 2021.
Being able to pull together a virtual conference for 2,000+ global attendees on a brand new platform with minimal help and a short time frame was insane, but I learned so much. Not just in marketing, but also in virtual and physical event management.
With the pandemic bring about so many tools for virtual conferences — even alongside in-person conferences — I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with the rest of the WordPress community.
Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? Share your thoughts on WordPress Community.
Ans: 2014 started my WordCamp travels and it’s been a whirlwind since. Until the pandemic hit, I’d been to at least 6 camps a year and sometimes as many as 12.
I’ve been fortunate enough to go to all of the WCUS events and WCEU in Austria in 2016. I also currently work with our local meetup, and these days occasionally attend others that are happening virtually.
All that to say, I’m deeply entrenched in the WordPress community. I’ve seen the good. I’ve heard about the bad. In the end, it is a group of people and sometimes people are terrible.
You’re more likely to hear about the things that go wrong, but really there’s a lot more right happening, and I try to showcase that. I’ve seen the power that relationships have to help give individuals a boost and I work to promote that relationship building.
Q. How does your workstation look like? Can you send us a picture?
Ans: Because we’re moving out of our house in 6 weeks (our girls will continue to rent and our youngest daughter is moving into this space), I’m currently working at our old dining room table across from Topher.
It’s been a more ideal setup than I would have guessed. It’s handy to be able to have a quick face to face conversation about the HeroPress Network build. We’ll also occasionally chat over Slack even though we’re 4 feet apart.
Q. What interesting feature do you think you would like to see in WordPress and is currently missing?
Ans: When it comes to technical WordPress, I don’t have an answer here. I just use what’s built.
From a community side, I’d like to see simpler ways to connect with the global community and find resources, all things we’re building through the HeroPress Network. But I’m also always excited to see what other solutions people come up with.
Q. Out of the current plugins and themes which one do you like the most and why?
Ans: Kadence has been my favorite. Out of full transparency, Liquid Web who owns Kadence is donating hosting to the HeroPress Network project, but I fell in love with this theme before then.
Using just the Gutenberg editor, I’m able to create an attractive theme that’s customizable with no code. However, my husband (a developer) is able to rip it apart and use it for the base of whatever he needs. That’s what I love most about it.
Q. Any awesome technology you want to share other than WordPress?
Ans: I don’t dive into cutting edge technology, but I’ve been amazed at how awesome Discord is for managing virtual events. Being able to talk to other organizers across the globe, particularly when we’re all up for 24+ hours is truly magical.
It makes the event seem more like an in-person event, creates an atmosphere or camaraderie I would never have anticipated, and helps clear up problems so quickly.
Q. Do you like/love what you currently do in WordPress?
Ans: I do. I get to connect with a huge variety of people across the entire global ecosystem, and generally regarding topics that make their lives easier. I get to work with journalists, business people, entrepreneurs, and other volunteers, and every day I learn a little more.
Q. Where do you find yourself after 5 years
Ans: That’s an excellent question. It’s a season of transition for me, but I think I will continue to advance in the direction I’m currently going.
I’ll likely be managing the HeroPress Network on some level, possibly dabbling in travel writing, and continuing to work on the marketing/communications side of community building inside WordPress.
Q. Share something about your life other than work
Ans: I’m really excited to travel the US for the next few years with my husband. We’ll use the RV as home base to attend WordCamps that might have been outside of our reach before, visit our friends who are now scattered everywhere, and share the opportunities WordPress has to offer wherever we go.
We both come from communities where it can be hard to find a job you enjoy. Platforms like WordPress provide so many opportunities for this, and I can’t help but share them.
Q. To whom you give credit for your success?
Ans: My parents have been beyond supportive of all the crazy things we’ve done as a family. My husband and kids who have helped divide up life so I have more time to do my own thing.
And while it may sound cheesy, truly the WordPress community. It’s not easy to be a less technical person stepping into a very technical environment. But so many have been patient as I’ve learned, but largely embraced who I am and helped me find ways to use my skills to benefit us all.
Q. Can you give us some reference for whom we should conduct an interview next and why?
Ans: Kathy Zant is a security specialist who has done some really interesting things in the community as well.
Q. How do you reward yourself?
Ans: Self-care. A soak in the tub. Do my nails. A little me time with a drink and a murder show.
Q. Any suggestion for WordPress beginners?
Ans: Find a community you feel comfortable in and get involved. It can take some trial and error, but it is one consistent way to grow your skills and get ahead.
Relationships matter and the sooner you start building them, the sooner they start paying of for both parties involved.
But remember is should always be an and. Building relationships that only benefit you and leaving the others behind is a sure way to lose in WordPress.