Dana Walsh: from beach bum to Weebly’s events + community guru

Community managers often put others before themselves. Call it an occupational hazard. The most fun thing about our Company Series is the chance we have to learn more about them and how they got to be where they are. We recently chatted with Dana Walsh, Event and Community Lead at Weebly, a global website and eCommerce service that has over 45 million customers around the world.

Two years ago Dana was giving the middle finger to a brutal job market, surfing Hawaii’s gorgeous waves day in, day out, farming pineapples and soaking up the rays and island feels. Her life was a long-ass Jack Johnson music video.

So how did she find herself at Weebly’s New York City office leading the community and events team?

As it turns out, Dana’s a native New Yorker who thought at one point she was going to pursue sports journalism. She had studied English and Communications in South Carolina, where she received a full track scholarship. But as graduation day came around, she, like pretty much everyone else, didn’t know what was next.

“I had no clue what I wanted to do and I certainly couldn’t afford to live on my own in New York right out of college!”

So Dana did what any sensible twenty-something would do—packed her flip-flops and moved to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

“I decided to volunteer for the WWOOF organization at a farm on the West + North Shores of Hawaii, and it was the best experience of my life. I met so many cool people, and learned about organic farming. I loved it there. I was all about the sun and in a way ‘finding myself’!”

As weeks turned into months, her family and friends wanted to know if she was ever coming back to the mainland U.S. of A.

“Yes! I love you! I'm coming back!” Dana said to her long-distance boyfriend, who began to wonder whether he lost her for good to Hawaii’s beaches.

It was around this time that Dana hopped on a plane back home to the East Coast and applied for an office manager job at Weebly’s New York office.

Dana tells us that she didn’t know at first if the role was for her, but decided she needed to put her foot in the door in the competitive NYC career market. She loved meeting the team during her interview and the possibilities for growth Weebly offered, so excitedly accepted the gig.

This is how Dana Walsh, former beach chick, landed a full-time job with a regular paycheck and returned to respectable society. (No offense, Hawaii!)

A year into the job, she faced a crossroads when the Events Manager role opened up.

“When starting to think of my potential growth within the company, I was interested in product marketing, however, the event's role opened up out of nowhere, and I’m thankful that it did. I’ve been lucky enough to learn and work alongside our amazing design, tech, and email marketing teams. I’ve also been able to travel around the country to work with users in person and find out how Weebly can help make them more successful e-commerce and small business owners.”

Dana’s worked hard to establish an inspirational, feel-good vibe at Weebly’s events. These community events, she says, are often geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners, who are a huge chunk of Weebly’s customers.

More recently Dana also kick-started the company’s launch of their Ambassador Program. The program offers members exclusive content through online and in-person events, premium web services, and, most importantly, company swag.

From a three-week cross-country bus tour to individually reviewing 1000+ Ambassador Program applications, a partnered summer event series, to countless community events, it’s been a full year for her.

To help manage the workload, Dana uses Google Cloud Platform to handle community data, and Facebook private groups to Weebly’s 130 ambassadors.

She admits the volume of work can be tough, “I feel awful when it’s been a couple days and I am not able to get back to someone on email or our Ambassador Private Facebook Groups as fast as I’d like to.”

The most rewarding part of her job, she says, is getting to know the community.

“Meeting ambassadors in person, and not just connecting with them from behind the computer screen, I think that’s one of the coolest things about my job. You spend a lot of time connecting with the Weebly network on email, and you get to hear about how they promote and educate their community about Weebly, but when you really get to interact with someone that’s been such a brand representative- that’s very special. That’s when someone’s URL or domain name comes to life, and you get to know them by ‘Nora,’ instead of http://www.norabellewellness.com.”

Weebly’s program is unique, with members ranging from their early teens to their later 80’s.Our Ambassadors range from just beginning their schooling to those using and promoting the platform as ‘resumes’ to share with colleges and future employers, to those that just simply loves the platform.”

Like all community managers, Dana wants the ambassador program to grow. She’s currently looking into ways to enable seasoned ambassadors to onboard newbies, and automation tools like GrowSumo. “I’d love for the community to get to the point where it can run itself. That would be the best thing ever.”

With some free time, maybe Dana can head back to the beach. She’s so passionate about her job, though, Hawaii can’t keep her for long.

Bella Francis

Bella Francis

Content Marketing Coordinator at GrowSumo