The Freedom to Be Who You Are

For the 16th post in our corporate values series, Operations Team Manager Shawna Curran considers the freedom that comes with remaining true to oneself, and the importance of fostering meaningful relationships.

Having my daughter at 19 changed everything for me. I desperately wanted to provide for my little girl and knew I had to find a way to get on my feet. I hunted around for a career path where I could be financially independent and I found it in technology. It was a lucrative career choice where I could learn and grow on the job. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best work environment for a young woman of color who is also a single parent. I learned early that I would have to constantly prove myself and work extremely hard to be seen and move forward.

As a result, I came to understand the importance of relationships and the people you choose to make authentic connections with.

No matter what my environment, I realized that genuine and authentic connections were the key to getting things done and overcoming challenges. Those connections also helped me through some really tough times. That said, some work environments are difficult enough to overwhelm even those wonderful connections and bring me significant stress. Enough that I decided to take time off to breathe a bit, put some energy into the volunteer work helping young moms that invigorates me, and consider where I want to go.

After about a year, an opportunity to work at Alyce came up and I struggled with it. I already removed myself from stifling work environments where I had to conform to whatever standard the organization put on me. The freedom felt amazing! I had healed, grown in my confidence, and felt wonderfully comfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t ready to be stifled again. Alyce seemed to offer something different. The value to Give First Give Consistently really resonated with me. Unfortunately, I’ve had contact with plenty of organizations that had values I loved but didn’t live them. So, I decided to try a different tack.

I asked for a meeting with Tori Oellers, Head of Operations. This time just to chat. We met for coffee and I briefly shared my story, how my challenging work life has shaped me, and why certain things are important to me. Things like having open and honest communication, the freedom to ask questions and share ideas without fear of retaliation, and diversity, inclusion, and equity. I wanted to know if Alyce shared these concerns and I came away from that meeting with three great things…

  1. I felt there was enough potential at Alyce that I could reasonably ask for such a meeting.
  2. Tori not only took the meeting, she welcomed and thanked me for my transparency.
  3. Alyce did indeed share my concerns and actively works to address them by living their values.

So I joined.

From day one, I’ve felt welcome, part of the team, and for the first time ever…absolutely free to be who I am. I’ve made (and continue to make) amazing connections.

I’m not concerned with being labeled an emotional woman or the sassy black woman. In the past, it’s taken time to make my way through the noise and nurture genuine relationships at work. At Alyce, since I’m free to be myself, the connections come easy, they’re genuine and authentic, and the work becomes fun.

When an organization lives their values, the possibilities are endless.

September 10, 2019
Team Alyce
Team Alyce