The transition from one executive director to another can be uncharted territory, but the guidance of an interim executive director can help a team navigate through. In the time period between official directors, the interim works to ensure the organization runs smoothly by keeping regular programs and practices in place, such as meetings, training and retreats.
An organization’s executive director is many things, but first and foremost, serves as a steward, a steward of the organization’s mission, its employees, volunteers, board of directors and its benefactors. As Jeff Mazur transitions out of this position, and the organization searches for its new executive director, Sarah Mayer – former LaunchCode Board member – will step in as the steward of LaunchCode, to help usher in the new age of the organization.
To help you get to know Sarah, we asked her a few questions…
How did you first become involved with LaunchCode?
I was first introduced to LaunchCode when the Obama administration announced the TechHire initiative in 2015. There was a team coming in from the administration and they had invited a number of local companies to join. At the time I was working as a leader on Boeing’s tech team and since I was full-time in St. Louis, my boss asked me to go to represent Boeing.
I remember hearing a Mastercard leader tell us about Lashana Lewis, how she honed tech skills at LaunchCode, landed an apprenticeship at Mastercard and how much incredible value she brought to the team. It was so compelling, I immediately started advocating for my team at Boeing to hire on LaunchCoders. I guess it worked…now, seven years later, Boeing has taken on over 130 LaunchCoders!
Wow, 130+ Boeing LaunchCoders later and it all started with you?!
The reason we started to hire LaunchCoders is because we needed people, but it became evident that the program did so much more than fill seats. LaunchCoders brought in a bunch of different thought patterns, passion and incredible grit and determination. There’s a different sense of work ethic from someone who gutted their way through a LaunchCode course, and it’s contagious. At Boeing, we saw LaunchCoders come in with incredible passion and enthusiasm for what they do and it affected the overall team. We knew bringing in diverse backgrounds would be good, but we didn’t realize it could lift the performance of an entire team.
How have you seen the organization grow and evolve since you’ve been involved?
I have seen a tremendous amount of creativity and agility within LaunchCode since I first began working with the organization in 2015. In the beginning, there was a lot of, “we don't know how to do this, but we’ll figure it out”. I’ve seen LaunchCode manage to make the transition from complete startup to a more structured, mature organization, without losing the spirit of creativity, which is exciting to see.
Why is LaunchCode’s mission important to you, personally?
Where to begin? I love the idea that LaunchCode provides an avenue for folks to - no kidding - change their own lives. I’ve seen LaunchCoders go from earning very little or in a career that isn’t feeding their soul and taking the initiative to change the trajectory of their life. I firmly believe that changing an individual and families' lives has the potential to lift entire communities.
I think of it as a pebble in a pond - the individual went through LaunchCode but there’s a generational ripple effect that impacts their families and communities - it's so powerful.
My husband died 5 years ago now, and when he died, we decided we wanted to have a way to honor his memory that was meaningful, long-lasting and had an impact. My sister-in-law and I decided we would direct memorial gifts to LaunchCode, which was the first time the organization experienced this type of gift! We also wanted to honor his memory through the Matt Mayer Memorial Award, which is given to an outstanding LaunchCode graduate during graduation.
My son, Adam, also worked on LaunchCode’s education team and helped to write the Discovery program curriculum, which helps introduce learners to the fundamentals of code. He also served as a teaching assistant a number of times to help usher students through the program. We are a total LaunchCode family!
What are your “hopes and dreams” for LaunchCode? What do you see as our next big thing?
The success in LaunchCode’s hometown of St. Louis is incredible and I would love for LaunchCode to continue to discover new ways to build success in cities and regions beyond St. Louis. I’m excited for this to become an even bigger part of LaunchCode’s story!
The pandemic gave the organization an opportunity to learn how to serve more learners and companies virtually, and there are so many more questions to explore. What was learned through virtual course delivery that we should keep and what things are done best in-person? Most importantly, how can we create a bigger footprint to make an impact nationally? At the same time, the reopening of LaunchCode Headquarters has reinvigorated passion among our staff and learners. I’m excited to see what ideas this renewed passion will spark!
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