black hoodie with white WordPress logo laying on a bed next to a black and white Love pillow

Cate Joined Automattic (in January 2022)

We didn’t keep the new job a secret, but there hasn’t been a reason to shout about it. I guess mostly I just needed some space.

The last few years have been pretty rough on me. 2019 was supposed to be my year to step into something new, to move from being family-focused to being me-focused. Instead, I was misled and/or strung along, and ended the year ready to turn my back on WordPress.

WCUS 2019 helped remind me of why I stay and opened some new doors for 2020.

The next two years gave me a chance to try a lot of things. Unfortunately, most of what I learned is what I didn’t want to do.

A Season of No

We’re quick as a society to promote the positives of trying new things. Of stepping out on faith. Taking a risk. Sometimes it’s amazing and we love what we find. But like everything, that all has an alternative consequence, too.

Consequences I never really thought about. how painful it can be to go through a season of no’s.

When the only constant is closed doors, it’s so hard to feel like the effort is worth it. Progress wasn’t shiny and pretty. Every day I fell on my face and drug myself up out of the mud. Only to do the same the next day.

Pretty? No. Productive? Yes.

If you can avoid the bitterness that’s so easy to fall into, compassion can grow. Combine it with grace and compassion is an invaluable prize for struggle. It can give you an edge when dealing with clients, employees, and community members. But it’s a skill that has to be earned.

Making My Own Yes

The best thing about WordPress is that you can make your own yes. It takes time and it comes with struggle, but it can be done.

When you look around and don’t see a place that fits you, but you love the community you’re in, you can make your own place. Whether you’re changing careers or changing positions, WordPress gives you options.

Mine was to use my unique skills to grow HeroPress into a conglomerate of sites that benefit the base of the WordPress community.

I took a project that had been incubating for years, growing organically and benefiting the community, and expanded it into something more. It’s a step we’d been discussing for a while and had been looking for the right time to act on.

We acquired Hallway Chats, developed WP Podcasts and Find It WP, and built the HeroPress Network to be the center of it all. We opened funding to give the community the opportunity to help support it’s longevity, and considered different options for corporate sponsorship.

It was ideal: a dream job for me.

Marketing, communication, journalism, and community engagement all wrapped up in one. My chance to use my skills to help make WordPress more accessible to the community. My chance to build bridges among the different entities in WordPress and encourage a flow of information and ideas that would benefit our global community.

An Unexpected Twist

Out of due diligence, I’d been monitoring job postings.

While HeroPress has some funding coming in, it’s small and only as stable as the generosity of those investing in the project. Since jobs that fit me are few and far between, it makes sense to keep my eyes open for one to come up.

So it’s ironic that when one did, I hesitated. The job was ideally suited to my skills, almost as if it were written with me in mind, and completely community focused.

But to take the job, I had to let go of what I wanted to do with the HeroPress Network.

I could stay on as a contributor, but my role had to change to avoid conflict of interest. Was I really ready for that? No. I had so much I could do with HeroPress.

However, soul searching and many conversations later revealed a new path with new options.

I could try for this job and if I got it, help guide the growing HeroPress Network while still contributing and creating financial stability for the project. It was too reasonable of a solution.

I Got the Job

When I applied, I didn’t expect to get an offer. When I got an offer, I didn’t expect to take it.

But, here we are.

I’ve now been at Automattic for six months as a paid contributor to the WordPress Community Team. Official title: Community Engagement Specialist

My team — half of whom joined when I did — is full of amazing people from around the world who are completely focused on how best to support the entire WordPress community and it’s contributors, and continue the growth that an open source project needs to survive.

The Future of the HeroPress Network

So, is this the end of the HeroPress Network?

No, far from it.

My stepping aside allows for the next generation to have a spot. For now at least one daughter, if not both, will be moving into leading roles with the project. We firmly believe new voices and new perspectives will only add to what the project is and what it has the potential to become.

After all, my driving force in WordPress was always to enable others, and now I can do it on two fronts.

Why I Waited to Talk About the New Job

As mentioned in the beginning, part of me just needed space. A lot of things went differently than I expected for quite some time, and I wanted to make sure this really stuck before announcing it.

Partly, too, I’ve been really busy. The same week I started on boarding, I also joined the Lead Trio for WCUS. Navigating both hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t exactly been hard, but it has been a lot.

Our personal life has also been a bit much. Nothing bad. In fact, mostly good, but complicated. Where did we want to live? How much stability did I need? When was the right time to make the change? None of these had easy answers until they all feel suddenly into place.

Lastly, I wanted to have a solid answer of the future of the HeroPress Network. All the things above impacted the girls, too. They needed their own time and space to make decisions.

We’re finally there, standing on a chunk of stable ground that we can build a future on. How long it will stay stable, we never know. But for now, that’s all we need.

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