Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. We sat down with our Head of Social Impact & Sustainability.
Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and background.
I was born and raised in the Bay Area and, while I’ve always talked about living somewhere else for a bit, I love it here. When I think about my upbringing, the two things that stand out from my childhood are that I had the opportunity to be really active, playing multiple sports, and I was always close with my family. My parents have always been incredibly supportive, constantly encouraging me and my sister to try new things and to give whatever we did our best.
I went to college at UC Davis with plans to become a dentist. My dad and my grandfather are both dentists, and I thought I would carry the torch (turns out my sister would take on that challenge!). Around that time, I also started learning more about the issue of human trafficking and got really involved with a few nonprofits. I realized my passion was more in the social sector and, after my first quarter, I decided to become a Community and Regional Development (CRD) major, focused on how sociopolitical factors impact communities. It’s a relatively unknown major, and I found my niche in a large school. The foundation I established by majoring in CRD continues to impact how I approach social impact and sustainability here at Lob. It’s exciting that I get to actually use my major.
What's an experience that you had that you learned and grew from?
I spent a few summers in college volunteering and traveling through Thailand. While I was there, I volunteered with anti-trafficking organizations focused on prevention, rescue, and recovery. I had written papers about human trafficking and held demonstrations in the main quad of my college to raise awareness of the issue, but this was my first face-to-face exposure, and it opened my eyes to the deep complexity and systemic failures that put people in vulnerable situations. I carried this with me and it changed how I look at the many issues that we’re dealing with in our own country. So many of the big issues we’re trying to address have systemic, discriminatory roots and we need to understand our history, power structures, and who created these systems in order to start chipping away at them.
If you could become an expert on one subject what would it be?
Wine is a staple in our family and, in addition to drinking it, I’d love to become an expert winemaker. My father-in-law has been making wine at home for almost 30 years, and he’s been teaching us how to do so as well. With my husband’s siblings, we’ve made Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera, and, this year, we’re making a Primitivo. It’s been a fun way to hang out and learn something new. I also love that there is a physical product at the end that you get to enjoy or gift!
How did you get into this work?
My career path has been like Lombard Street! As I mentioned, I went into college thinking I would become a dentist. Those plans were quickly derailed when I got involved with an organization called the Sold Project, now known as The Freedom Story. They focus on education as a means of child trafficking prevention. I set my mind to moving to Thailand after graduating, but, as that time came nearer, I was humbled by the fact that I don't speak Thai and that I knew I would ultimately want to end up in the Bay Area. One of my mentors at the time encouraged me to consider teaching and apply for Teach for America. That's how I ended up teaching first and second grade in San Jose.
During my second year of teaching, I realized that being in the classroom wasn't what I saw myself doing long-term. I loved working with my students and I cared deeply about education and youth, but I wanted to pursue a different path. I took advantage of being in Silicon Valley and met with many folks to learn more about what they did. That’s how I ended up in tech at Box. I decided that recruiting aligned with my skill sets and would allow me to explore and learn more about different roles. A few months in, I learned about Box.org, their social impact arm. I hadn't heard about social impact before and was excited to see how I could combine my tech role with my nonprofit and education experience. I began working closely with Executive Director, Bryan Breckenridge, on the side for two and a half years before moving over to his team full time.
After six and a half years at Box, I decided it was time to move on to the next adventure. I loved building social impact programs and wanted to continue in this space. That's when I found Lob and the opportunity to launch social impact here!
What made you choose Lob?
I was really drawn to the fact that Lob, at the time a Series B company with roughly 100 employees, was thinking about how to build social impact into the company early on. Hiring for this role spoke a lot about the culture and the leadership, and it compelled me to join. I also saw a huge opportunity to leverage direct mail automation to better support nonprofits and save their staff time to focus on other mission-critical work and make this a more sustainable industry. Direct mail is a channel that a lot of nonprofits rely on, and it returns the highest ROI in terms of fundraising. I'm so excited about how we'll continue to build out and work more closely with nonprofits in the coming years.
We’re also expanding our sustainability efforts and launching carbon neutral direct mail soon, which I’m really excited about. We’re setting a new sustainability standard for the industry!
What was a moment in your life that changed your perspective?
I had my son, Kayden, last December. People told me that having a child would change me, and becoming a mom completely shifted my perspective and evolved my identity. The way that I think about my day and my time is altered now that there is another human being whose life I’m responsible for. It’s been the most challenging experience, but also the most incredible one and I’m constantly amazed at how our capacity to love (and ability to function on lack of sleep) continues to grow and expand.
As I returned back to work full time, I realized the blind spots I had before around working parents. For example, I didn’t use to think twice about scheduling a post-work happy hour, or late-in-the-day team events, but I realize now how difficult that made it for parents who were juggling work obligations with kid pickups and activities. I’m also laughing as I reflect on this because I used to wish them “a relaxing and rejuvenating weekend ahead” and I now realize how unrealistic that is.
What is an inanimate object that you couldn't live without?
With the risk of sounding cliche, it’d be my phone. It has become an additional appendage and extension of my brain and I would be lost without it to remind me what I need to do. I set alarms for everything throughout the day to remind me to do little things like take my vitamins or start dinner. I even use an app to remind me to water my plants.
My friend and I were laughing the other day about how we used to carry our cell phones and cameras in our purses in high school, and how we would print out our favorite photos to keep in our wallets and binders. I love that we can use our phones now to easily capture photos and visually share moments with family and friends. That’s been hugely important to my family and friends now that we have a baby - gotta share those baby pics!
Who knows you best in the world?
I would say my husband does. We've been together for almost 10 years and we've navigated so many different life stages. While my values and the core of who I am hasn’t changed, you do change so much from your early 20s to being in your 30s. We’ve been together through many different stages, from living in the city and going out all the time, to getting married and moving to the burbs, to now figuring out our new normal with our first child. By navigating all of these different life stages together, my husband doesn’t just know who I am now, but he's gotten to see different versions of me and how I’ve evolved and grown over time.
Curious what it's like to work alongside people like Christina Louie Dyer? Learn more about life at Lob by visiting our careers page.
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