Parker has been working for Brightspot since July 2013.
This week, Rose went on the record with Parker Ramsdell, who leads Brightspot's mission projects supporting a variety of different non-profit organizations. Parker joined Brightspot, formerly Perfect Sense, in 2013. During their conversation, Rose and Parker spoke about this unique position, Brightspot's impact on its community, and the special relationships that he has formed during his 4+ years at Brightspot.
How long have you worked for Brightspot? What brought you here?
I started at Brightspot almost 4 years ago. I had just finished working on the presidential election in 2012 and was looking for a new job. David Gang asked me to come in part-time and help coordinate the inaugural Brightspot Pro-Am. The event went great and we talked more about his vision for Brightspot's mission. From that conversation, I decided to come on board full-time and lead those efforts. Four years later here we are!
Your job is pretty unique. Tell me about your role leading Brightspot's mission projects?
Brightspot has a very dedicated social mission that aims to give back to the community. Our efforts support 3 groups of people: wounded veterans, at-risk youth, and individuals with intellectual disabilities. In my job, I work with David to develop strategies, ideas, and events that allow Brightspot to contribute to those groups of people and have a meaningful on impact of their lives. I also work to provide Brightspot employees with hands-on opportunities to engage in these efforts. We want our employees to feel that their time at Brightspot is about more than just developing a great product and for our clients; it is also about having a greater impact on the community around us.
Is there a particular relationship you've formed through these various mission events that has had a meaningful impact on you?
There are so many special relationships that we have formed it's hard to pick one. The best part of our mission work has been getting to know such great people. We don't just write a check and pat ourselves on the back. We strive to get to know them and understand their stories. Deion Shepherd is a great example. Last week, Deion started at Brightspot as an intern. What makes Deion unique is that he is a graduate of The First Tee and a past participant in the Brightspot Pro-Am. In 2014, Deion came to Brightspot during the Pro-Am week for a career exploration day and met with a software engineer. He went on to study computer science in college and is now here as a summer intern. To see our mission work come full circle like that is really gratifying.
The 5th Brightspot Pro-Am, one of the biggest events you organize, is coming up next month. What are you looking forward to at this year's event?
This is the fifth time that we have brought in 40 golfers from around the country. It has grown into an incredible week-long event that starts with a welcome banquet on Sunday and ends with a celebration at Top Golf on Wednesday night. For me, the highlight of the Pro-Am is seeing the relationships between the golfers develop over the course of the week.Last year at Top Golf on the final night, all of the teenage golfers from The First Tee wrote notes to their Special Olympics teammates that they handed out at the end of the evening. It was an incredibly emotional moment, where all of the ideals we strive to promote through the tournament were on display. That's what I am looking forwarding to again this year—the lasting relationships that will be formed from Sunday to Thursday.
In March, you traveled to Austria with other Brightspot employees to volunteer at Special Olympics World Games. What is your lasting memory of the Games?
I have been fortunate to attend three World Games. Every World Games has countless numbers of memories, but one that really stands out from Austria came during the floorball Unified Sports Experience. One of the goalies had cerebral palsy and was unable to walk. In floorball, however, the goalies play on their knees. The goalie, who was from Gibraltar, was paired on a unified team with Apolo Ohno. At the start of the match Apolo carried the goalie to his position, where he starts making save after save. Watching one of the greatest Olympic athletes in American history, carry a teammate so he could participate like any of us, was my highlight moment of the Games.
You oversee our college recruiting efforts, from that experience what piece of advice would you give to a recent graduate starting his/her first job?
Ask questions! When you start your job, no matter how great an education you received, you will not know everything. The people I have seen excel are humble enough to admit they do not know everything and ask questions of those around them.
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working for Brightspot?
I appreciate the pride that all of our employees take in their work. It is inspiring to come to work each day and be surrounded by individuals who hold themselves to such a high standard of excellence.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
My biggest activity outside of the office is swim coaching. I coach for both York Swim Club and the Oakton High School varsity swim team. I love working with young people and helping them set and achieve goals. I also have a great group of friends who love to play trivia every Tuesday night at First Down in Arlington.
What are your favorite sport teams?
Hook' em Horns! My favorite team is the University of Texas Longhorns, my alma mater. I am also a big D.C. sports fan and root for the Redskins, Nationals, Capitals, and Wizards.
Where would you go in a time machine?
I'd travel to the early 1800s to join Lewis and Clark or their expedition of the west. Exploring during that time and discovering the west would have been an incredible experience.