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Get to Know a CLASSY Staffer: Tori the Traveler


By Terri Harel

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Tori leads the Marketing & Editorial efforts for the CLASSY Awards, as well as the development of the nomination process. After graduating with a BA in English Journalism from the University of New Hampshire and writing for various magazines and newspapers on the east coast, she ventured to San Diego, motivated by the energy and potential of working for a tech startup and driven by the incredible organizations and leaders involved in the CLASSY Awards process. When it’s not CLASSY Awards season, Tori spends her days soaking in the California sun that she was robbed of for most of her life living in New Hampshire.

How did you get started at Classy and end up in San Diego – especially since you’re originally from the East Coast?

After college I worked for a newspaper called The Hippo in Manchester, New Hampshire. I was writing a fashion column — It was fun, but I was ready for something new! It was time for me to get out of New Hampshire. So, I started looking on Craigslist and found Classy. After emailing back and forth, I flew out to San Diego for an interview with Pat [her now boss], who asked me to give my input on the CLASSY Awards nomination process. After a really positive and refreshing visit to San Diego, I knew that I needed to work at Classy. I was drawn to the energy of the company and what the CLASSY Awards stood for. So, I quit my job and moved out to San Diego.

What are the CLASSY Awards? A whole weekend devoted to celebrating the champions of social progress! Learn more here.

I started out as an unpaid intern just 3 months before the CLASSY Awards. Alongside Julie, I was working on the awards and helping write stories about the organizations competing and random miscellaneous stuff. I’ll always remember my first experience at the CLASSY Awards! It still is one of the best days in my entire life. I looked around and said to myself this is exactly where I want to be. It also solidified that I would continue working with Classy until I got a paid position at the company. Four months later I was hired part time, as the 15th Classy employee.

Right now the CLASSY team is working tirelessly gearing up for the Collaborative and the Awards. What is your main focus? What are you trying to accomplish in the next 3 weeks?

For me personally, I am focused on marketing and curating all of the content for the Collaborative. Right now we are wrapping up our national marketing campaign and focusing on San Diego (locally) and Southern California. I am also working on the last few announcements, which include the Collaborative sessions, ceremony speakers, and co-hosts.

What has been the most challenging thing from a professional perspective about spearheading the marketing efforts for the Collaborative/CLASSY Awards?

Figuring out the message that you want to convey to people! How you convey to people what you are putting on is paramount. Constantly asking yourself, how do I explain the Collaborative and CLASSYs to the people that should be interested in what we are doing? How do I tell them in the right way that will incentivize them to take the next step to buy a ticket or come to the event?

If I have learned one lesson from this whole thing, it’s this: if you don’t figure out the message for the experience that you’re putting on, no one will want to come!

What do you anticipate being the most notable difference at the Collaborative/CLASSY Awards this year, than in years prior?

Definitely the people involved. We’ve been able to attract some amazing leaders in the space, and are truly honored to have them join us. The fact that they’re coming and want to be involved in what we are doing. I think that this will really shine through to the people at the Collaborative and CLASSY Awards.

In your opinion, what is the most unique thing about the Collaborative and CLASSY Awards? What should the attendees be really looking forward to?

For the Collaborative, it’s access to leaders in the social sector that have already come out with extremely interesting ideas, technologies, and innovations, but are also at the forefront of new ideas, technologies, and innovations. People will be able to attend sessions that will give them a new perspective on the social cause they are interested in. Ultimately, we are providing access to the people that are moving the needle. Not only is it inspirational, but also thought provoking. It is good for the social sector to have a platform to come together in a way that they don’t usually get a chance to.

The Ceremony is one of the most inspirational emotional experiences that anyone has ever had. For those who have experienced it, they can speak to it and attest to it, but we have challenged in how to explain that to anyone else.

With so much going on the weekend of the Collaborative/Awards, what are you looking forward to the most?

Too hard to answer! I am really excited about the potential of the Collaborative because of the sessions we were able to put together, including the people speaking, the experts attending, and the ideas that are going to be discussed – I really think that it will be an amazing thing for the nonprofit sector. [pullquote3 align=”right”] Interested in attending the Collaborative? Apply here. [/pullquote3]

I am also excited for the continuation of the CLASSY Awards as it matures and continues to be a platform for innovative organizations to be recognized for their efforts.

What is the most gratifying thing about working to put on such a big production?

Celebrating with the team. I have so much respect for every single person on the CLASSY awards team, as well as Classy. In addition, we have a lot of new people that haven’t experienced this before, so it’s always energizing to see their reactions to the weekend. They’ve been working so hard for so long on something they have never experienced – it’s a really awesome thing to watch them be amazed by what they’ve put together. For my team members that have been around since the beginning, it’s going to be great to look back and see how we’ve grown.

With the big weekend approaching, what keeps you sane after working 13+ hours a day?

Great question! This is so lame but, working out! I’m a total gym rat. I do love running, like this morning I went for a run. If I don’t do something in the morning then I am a totally different person during the day. I need to get sweaty in the morning to keep myself feeling like a normal person.

What do you think is the most unique thing about working for a startup like Classy?

The team mentality – if I slack then the whole team suffers. For me, that is incredibly motivating. We all rely on each other immensely.

There are also so many ideas being thrown out constantly. It is one of our biggest strengths and weaknesses because it always feels like we can’t catch up. However, at the same time it keeps us progressive and on our toes, striving for more. That’s one of the great things working for a start-up, we are always going to be kind of scrappy.

Anything interesting you want to share about yourself? Hobbies, interests, etc.

A huge part of me outside of work is being in San Diego – moving here has been life changing for me! I get to enjoy biking, running, playing volleyball, being active with friends – San Diego has truly changed my entire perspective on what it means to be happy.

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