Ian Kozak

A New Project Manager

Green River has always been about engineering. We are software developers who develop software, and if you looked through our 'Team' page at any time in history, including today, you'd see the vast majority of our staff are software engineers.

That staffing skew allows us to deliver high value, where we tackle engineering challenges instead of trying to avoid them. The work of coding is done with competence, and isn't hidden under a layer of dogmatic process. Engineers often engage directly with clients, and we try to keep the traverse a question has to pass from user to developer as short as possible. Doing so promotes agile development, and allows the "client" to be a true partner - not just privy to, but actively responsible for, major and minor project decisions.

But the projects we work on are not simple. They have sophisticated workflows, sophisticated design requirements, and complex technical underpinnings. And because they are successful, they continue to mature over years - even decades. That means respective projects involve components at varying stages of development, somewhere in the discovery, design, initial implementation, iterate loop; they often require familiarity with a significant amount of subject specific expertise; and they require contributions from a team with diverse and specialized skills. In short, they need adept project management.

Our approach to project management is integrated. Make a technical project lead a PM on heavy engineering work, make a UX lead PM on heavy design work, and let our COO keep tabs on overall, high-level progress and budget status. But the reality is project management requires a particular skill set and disposition, like any specialized technical task, and those who are good at it find themselves perpetually in high demand at Green River.

Enter Erin Van Ness, who joined the Green River team full time in September. Erin's main focus is project management - her title is even Project Manager! - and with her entrance, we gratefully expand our capacity to keep things running as they should. She has a background in product management, and in keeping with Green River tradition, her role is complex, stretching well beyond scheduling meetings and noting next steps: along with keeping both shared project planning and our internal task tools (PivotalTracker, Git, Harvest) up to date, Erin contributes feature discovery and critical Quality Assurance routines to our engineering efforts.

On a personal note, Erin's work has always focused on the technical aspects of making non-profit organizations successful. Among other positions, she has been the Technical Operations Manager at Event360, the Fiscal Administrator for the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and has been a stalwart supporter of independent radio in Chicago for many years. In Erin we see a well-aligned, complimentary skill and interest set (along with yet another lovable Green River pet dog); we're ever so pleased we found each other!