1. Tell us more about your work at DataDrive! What’s something you’re most proud of in your work here and/or in your career?

DataDrive is an analytics consultancy that began about 4 years ago. DataDrive works with all sorts of industries and clients, making data intuitive as their focus. “Anyone that has data and tools that we know how to work in, we will do that work. We really focus on having a design thinking and human-centered perspective on analytics.” In the past year, DataDrive has doubled, growing to 20+ staff members.

At DataDrive, Kaela has 2 main roles. She consults with clients to advise and assist them in using data better, using Tableau and other data-driven strategic tools. In this role, she focuses on building the right tools and technology while strategizing the best ways to deliver analytics. Kaela is also DataDrive’s ‘people lead,’ recruiting staff, providing tools for professional development, focusing on diversity & inclusion efforts, and more.

“What I’m most proud of with my role at DataDrive is I really get to help DataDrive be a phenomenal place for people to come work and be really happy… and have work be a place where they feel effective, where they feel filled up, where they get to work on things that are challenging exciting and to them, and they get to see the difference that their work is making in people’s lives.”

  1. How did you become interested in data?

“I’ve always been super people-oriented. If you would have said I’d work in data later, I would have said no I’m not… I love what computers let me do for people now. My first experience loving data and analytics was learning GIS in college.” Kaela completed an analysis for a social services nonprofit in Beyer County, San Antonio, in which she helped them locate the optimal place for a center and locate gaps in their services. “Connecting data with effective visuals, in a real-world problem that was going to help people, was so satisfying to me.”

  1. As someone with a background in data analytics, facilitation, and strategic planning, what made you want to help lead Fusion Learning Partners?

“I think my background really aligns with Fusion… I also benefitted from Fusion when I worked in government. I used to attend the IT Symposium and I’ve been to Rail~Volution…” Supporting an organization who had benefited and inspired her made it an easy choice to join the Board.

  1. From your current role and past experiences, what do you hope to bring to the ‘Fusion’ table? What experiences have inspired you to give back?

“Analytics where it’s helpful – a data mindset, knowing technologies and having literal technological connection… additionally, design-thinking and a human-centered focus. Fusion already has that, but I really wanted to continue to bring that to the table from a Board perspective.” As Kaela has helped build a small company and worked with a variety of organizations, as well as consulted organizations in strategic planning, she has been excited to bring her knowledge to Fusion.

  1. Part of the mission statement of Fusion is to inspire innovation for the greater good… what does this mean to you, or why do you believe in this?

“Lots of organizations want to work for the greater good, but they don’t necessarily have the tools, the capital, the culture, the resources, to get some traction, and Fusion really exists to equip those employees and create those organizations to be able to actionize or implement that. They provide a venue for so much cross-pollination… that’s so huge, giving those tools, providing those venues, in an effective way.”

  1. There are many critical issues our communities are facing right now, but if you had to pick one, which issue needs the most innovative thinking and why?

“I really think the issue that needs the most innovative thinking is honestly policing and crime prevention, and the intersection with race, mental illness… It’s so rooted in a super long history of race and the reality of a lot of fear built up over generations, a lot of trauma built up over generations, and a lot of trauma that people experience daily in interactions with law enforcement, and that law enforcement experiences on the other side… It’s really hard to work on other issues if people don’t feel safe.”

  1. I know that you are a fan of Fantasy Football! How did you get into this, and how does your knowledge of data analytics impact your experience with Fantasy Football?

“I’ve always loved football. My family is huge into sports. We watched a lot of college football, because Mizzou and KU, growing up, were such a huge rivalry point… I watched the Chiefs [as well].” When Kaela met her fiancé, he was also huge into Fantasy fFotball (FF), so Kaela joined and currently is on two FF leagues. “One is all women and is super competitive and ruthless, and one is with a bunch of really serious dudes, and I’m the only lady in that league… My team name for both is Rikki-Tikki-Tamba (in inspiration of the book “Rikki-Tikki-Tembo” and former Chiefs player Tamba Hali).”

“I have not yet hacked into the API and made my own dashboards and analytics… but I do spend a lot of time looking at different stats and figuring out which ones are more important. [My background] gives me more contextual knowledge around what might actually affect the outcome.”

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

“My fiancé and I play a lot of volleyball. We play sand, grass, and indoor. We go to tournaments, we play pick-up with friends, we play in leagues… We adopted my parent’s dogs back in December so I spend a lot of time with [them]. I’m also a huge music person. I used to sing in church… I have a band on the side that we started forming as well, pre-Pandemic, and are now picking up, and I do vocals in that. Volleyball, music, and dogs, and I enjoy cooking, and am working on my grill game.”

Fun Fact: Kaela is also fluent in Spanish. This has benefitted her work in many roles – she has been able to break down language barriers, especially in certain roles, such as when she worked in community programming in a housing complex in Kansas City, when she worked for the city of Brooklyn Park in Minnesota, and in working with clients currently.