How My Hometown Prepared Me to Be A Community Manager

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Timid is never a word used to describe me. I was the type of kid that never met a stranger — much to my parents’ chagrin, I would talk to anyone.Melded with my incessant curiosity and my insatiable desire to lend a helping hand, it just made sense that community management was the right job for me. I didn’t start here, however. My path to this role has taken some twists and turns, and I believe that’s precisely the reason I’m well equipped for this work.

Jordan Reeves

I grew up in Hueytown, Alabama. The people are friendly (think Mayberry, minus Barney Fife), and it’s just small enough that it feels really personal. You get to know the grocer and the pharmacist. You see people at the gas station and you often wave to your neighbors. I should note that this kind of environment is the ideal environment for an online community: kind, welcoming, and warmly intimate.

When I moved to Birmingham to study, I felt like the familiarity I had known in Hueytown disappeared. Nevertheless, I plugged along and found community in several small groups of friends. My dream was to become a doctor, a nurse, a broadway actor, a dramaturge, and a social advocate. Obviously, some of these passions will never turn into a career, but others are slowly creeping into my day to day work.

After college, I was teaching science lessons at a museum when I decided that I was ready for a change. About four years ago, I moved to New York City from Alabama. Again, the level of familiarity dissipated further.

Without any prospects for employment and with no place to call home, I hit the ground running. I worked in retail and corporate customer service and I landed a few temp jobs as an administrative assistant. One day, I got a call from a company that would become my home. TED Conferences hired me in January of 2011. My official title was TED Concierge, and my main responsibilities were to answer the phone and greet visitors. Over my years at TED, I moved from the physical contact role at TED’s front desk to the online role of digital community manager. I fell in love with meeting new people online, and I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of individual community members. In essence, I was doing all the things I thought I wanted to do rolled into one job. I’m caregiver, entertainer, researcher, and advocate for the community.

I’m now connected to millions of people via the world wide web, the largest community imaginable, but I again feel that familiarity I knew in my hometown. I remained at TED until just a few months ago, and now I am the community manager for Understood.org. Something tells me that I have grown into a job that will make me happy for a very long time. I have a career that’s focused on people, and that’s a dream come true!

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Jordan Reeves

Community Manager at Understood.org
For most of his career, Jordan Reeves considered himself a generalist – one who could wear many hatsas part of many teams. He is now a specialist.Jordan manages the community spaces on Understood.org.

Jordan is an experienced community and social media manager with expertise in the full range of online and offline community engagement practices (including enterprise platform integration, social media marketing campaigns, twitter chats, meet-ups, round tables, video hangouts, phone calling, and snail mail communication). He is a founding member of TED Conferences' education initiative, TED-Ed (a multiple Webby Award winning website). Jordan launched and managed the online community for TED-Ed and managed both the online and offline communities (which grew collectively by 300 new teachers and 700 new students on a daily basis). Jordan is a strong community manager with a proven track record in identifying insights and packaging them into big ideas that translate into growth. He has managed and mentored community and social media teams in spaces that have showed consistent positive trends. Notably, he tripled membership and engagement after his first six months as TED-Ed's Community Manager, where he built out the platform and roadmap for the online community strategy.

Jordan now leads the community team at Understood as they strive to consistently meet parents with resources that are both helpful and compelling. He is developing and implementing strategies to scale the Understood Community both online and offline. More than anything, Jordan wants to help parents meet one another so that they are connected and equipped on their journeys.

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