Kellie Brownell

storyteller, community builder


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As a technologist, the choices and tradeoffs I make are grounded in broad awareness of who will be using the tools I build and how, the purpose of projects, as well as practical and shifting concerns over things like budget and time.  For me, working with technology is a craft. And one that requires curiosity, rigorous attention to detail, and compassionate communication.

Stepping smoothly and quickly into new domains of expertise has been a hallmark of my career.  As well as working effectively at the intersection of technical and non-technical partnerships.  Whether picking up a new programming language or an entirely new discipline, I’m able to draw on a deep passion for learning and desire to see the practical and beneficial impact of my work on the world around us.

As a storyteller, the web, with its rich palette of expressive, distracting, and interactive tools, always challenges me to return to fundamentals of connection and engagement: do these images and layout give me a feel for what it would be like to show up and participate?  Does a site's language enroll me? If not, how can we get beyond the mere presentation of information, when something more is called for?

As a community builder, the relationships I build are grounded in the immense pleasure of connecting with people at the level of the heart.  While fundraising, I had the opportunity to ask community members daily, what motivated you to give? In response, they shared deeply held hopes and aspirations that moved us as staff and reinvigorated our own commitments to the work we were doing.  In the office, in the middle of tight deadlines, tight budgets, and endless tasks, I still like asking, what matters and why.


From Valerie Aurora,
formerly, Executive Director of The Ada Initiative

Kellie revolutionized our fundraising strategy and implementation. Previously, our yearly fundraisers were stressful, demoralizing, and did not serve our donors well. After Kellie's work with us, our yearly fundraiser was still a lot of work, but was also a positive, uplifting experience for our employees and built up our relationships with our donors. We not only reached our goal but did it without burning out our fundraisers.

Kellie's suggested fundraising techniques reaped major benefits for our volunteer fundraisers as well: recognition from their community, new career opportunities, connections with senior management, and positive feedback from their friends and families. With this level of community goodwill and increased social capital for our supporters, we are in an excellent position for our next fundraiser.

After Kellie’s work with us, our yearly fundraiser was still a lot of work, but was also a positive, uplifting experience for our employees and built up our relationships with our donors.
— Valerie Aurora, Principal Consultant at Frame Shift Consulting

Kellie is a self-starter and taught herself new skills astonishingly quickly, particularly in evaluating and learning to use complex new software platforms. She answered time-critical questions quickly throughout the campaign. She has excellent knowledge of the up-and-coming new tech-savvy donor for whom paper mail and buying email lists no longer work. Most importantly, she was able to diplomatically and calmly handle the fears and worries that come along with fundraising for so many people, myself included. I was surprised by how much emotional work came along with fundraising well and how critical it was to creating messages that worked.