TheBridge profile: Michelle Stephenson
Name: Michelle Stephenson
Current city: Washington, D.C. and Kailua, Hawai'i
Current job: Chief Revenue Officer, EveryAction and NGP VAN
Past job: Executive Director, EveryAction
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting: Pleasant Pops
Q. Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job. In 2014 when NGP VAN launched our nonprofit brand, EveryAction, we functioned much like a start-up. In many ways, this was exciting because we were able to rethink our brand, launch a plethora of innovative features quickly, and approach the often old-school nonprofit software market with a fresh perspective.
However, operating at start-up speed meant that I did not have the luxury of ensuring each finite detail was up to my standards on the sales and marketing side. Not only was this new to me but it was unbelievably challenging because it meant that one of my greatest strengths needed to take a backseat in favor of getting the job done on time.
In those early days of EveryAction, I reluctantly learned the hard lesson of balancing when obsessing over details was advantageous, when it was not, and when you simply needed to hit send on that proposal so you could go to bed.
This is a lesson that I've taken with me over the years and have found myself re-teaching to many of my colleagues who I see struggling with the same inner tension.
Q. Job advice in three words? Always be genuine.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? At its core, our company lives at the intersection of politics and tech. Our team is mission-driven, and we hire the majority of our staff – from sales, to product and engineering – from nonprofits, the progressive movement, and Democratic political campaigns. We feel like our staff having a diverse professional background rooted in politics helps inform our products in a really powerful way.
Additionally, the software tools we provide are meant to give our clients a strategic tech advantage – whether that’s using EveryAction’s best-in-class digital or fundraising tools, or NGP VAN’s core campaign organizing or compliance platforms. We’ve been fortunate to be work with so many influential political groups over the years – from the DNC and other Democratic Party groups, to major labor unions and national nonprofits like Greenpeace and the Audubon Society.
Supporting so many major political players means we have to constantly innovate and build new tools that can move the progressive movement forward in terms of digital, fundraising, and advocacy capacity, and that’s one of the most exciting parts of our work.
Q. How many hours of sleep do you get? I try to get a solid 8 hours each night. Anything less and I do not work as efficiently so I try to be disciplined in this part of my life.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? I think a strong sense of genuineness and humility is often overlooked in our space. I regularly see individuals with large egos fail upward but I find that these people are big talkers without the actual skills or work ethic to get the job done.
Q. Living person you admire? Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to amaze me.