Meet Caitlin, Advokate’s First Employee

See that photo there? That’s the Advokate team. And it’s not even all of us!

Top, from left: Jessica Chanese, Caitlin Stedman, Kate Austin-Avon, Danny Austin-Avon, Cory Austin-Avon, Ellie Austin-Avon, Sable Panich, Morgan Panich, Kate Clatworthy, and down in front, Henry Austin-Avon and Silas Panich. Not pictured: Emily Derrick, Carrisa Randolph, Maureen Werther, Erika McCarthy, and Faith and Jason St. John.

We can design you stuff, write things for you, create your website, come up with marketing plans, manage your social media, set up your e-newsletters, send your press releases and more. I love that MOMS make up over half of my team — and we’re all women and mom-and-pop teams here. We’re sharp, creative, and diligent. We have a lot of heart. I’m SO proud of this group of incredible people and what we are doing for our business and nonprofit community.

But I’m not just here to toot our horns. I want to tell you a little story about the latest addition to the team.

Because this one has been a long time coming.

I’ve been sitting on this fence for years, stuck between having too much to do and not enough stashed away to comfortably make the plunge into hiring. Plus the risks — What if the person isn’t as capable as we originally thought? What if business lulls and we can’t pay them? I mean, it never has lulled, but what if it did!? What if the person ends up being really annoying to sit next to?

For some reason, I was complaining at some business event to Tom Albrecht of Hilltop Construction Co. about my struggle with growth, and he said to me, “Well, look at it this way. Budweiser didn’t become Budweiser because one guy was doing everything himself.”

I have often repeated that line to myself.

(To clarify: I don’t want to become Budweiser. But I do want to do a good job for my clients, and having the capacity to reply to emails in a timely way is top on my priority list.)

I repeated it to myself when just a few months ago, my husband Cory left his part-time job to go all in with Advokate. That was a leap of faith. Cory has risen to the challenge, expertly maneuvering between handing me coffee, making website updates, doing laundry, picking up the kids, resetting passwords, cleaning the dishes, sending e-blasts, making me lunch, updating spreadsheets, running reports, and talking too much about Phish.

And Advokate is blowing up. I’ve held this thing at bay for a long time and never pushed it too far, safely keeping at a level of just-a-little-too-busy, but attaining MWBE status last year opened up new horizons for us, and 2019 marks a major Level Up: Combined with my solid regulars and new clients of all sizes, I feel like it’s a balloon full of confetti that I’ve handled delicately for eight years and finally, I gave it a poke and it’s just exploding glitter all over the place. There’s no way to handle it all by myself anymore. I needed help.

With the new year on the horizon and all these big plans in the works, I knew it was time to get off the fence and take the plunge.

To be a Boss.

Now, I’ve had interns. I’ve had temps. And my team up there? Mostly subcontractors.

But an employee. Somebody that I’m making a regular commitment to. Somebody outside the family that I’m bringing into the inner circle. Somebody that I’m going to sit nearby for long stretches of time and hopefully not annoy the hell out of. To structure ourselves into procedures and workflows and have a Way That We Do Things Around Here. To figure out how lunch breaks work and post the signs in your “break room” (It’s all one big room here at Advokate).

To actually HIRE. It’s a whole new thing! It’s a step up!

I held my breath and posted a job description online. I kind of held back, too, hesitant to really publicize it because I only really wanted to hire somebody 110% perfect and I worried about who would turn up, and what they would expect of me, and whether that job description really depicted what we need.

And I worried about being able to justify the expense, whether we could find someone whose skills were diverse enough so we could share the workload with them in the wild way we do things here — in one day, we’re handling social media, graphic design, marketing consultation, web design, running to community meetings, answering questions, trying to work on the business, expanding and deepening our in-house knowledge to better serve our clients, and save some brain space for creativity.

It’s hard to find somebody who can do ALL the things.

But when I learned that Caitlin Stedman was in the job market, I pounced. For one, she has INCREDIBLE video-making skillz. She knows how to make me look good. And we briefly worked together at the World Awareness Children’s Museum, and during that time I learned just what a valuable marketing mind she is, and I really missed her when she was gone. She’s organized, savvy, in love with Glens Falls and connected with the arts scene, creative, and polished.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Advokate’s very first EMPLOYEE!

Caitlin Stedman. Her job description is Operations and Communications Associate, but she’s really going to be doing a little of everything, especially starting out with making sure our processes are smoothly operating and our projects are well managed, so as things ramp up in January here, we’re not wondering where that piece of paper went that we wrote that thing on, or forgetting to follow up to poke you about a testimonial. And now we have the amazing power of Caitlin’s videography and photography talents in our toolbelt, which is a BIG win for Advokate!

Here’s all about Caitlin, in her own words:

Since returning home from Vancouver Film School in 2012, I floated around quite a bit trying to find my place.

Glens Falls immediately welcomed me with open arms and over time I have found my niche within the creative community. I own the film production company Snarky Aardvark Films, LLC, in Queensbury where I live with my furbaby Vinny.

Picture a circus ringmaster tossing hat after hat while the big top swirls with energy around them. That’s not me. I’m the one off to the side smiling like a proud mom, catching all the hats. I keep all the hats in order and in good shape so the ringmaster can shine on stage. I carry them all!

Helping people succeed in a way that aligns with their values is my passion. I enjoy planning and executing anything clients may need to thrive. My work experience is varied but it all centers around community interaction and project management. Being a filmmaker, contracts, invoices and schedules take up a lot of my time but I delve into the creative side as well. My films have allowed me to bring nuanced characters to life while exploring my environment in ways that deeper connect me to my corner of the world.

My most recent screenplays have won awards in film festivals across the nation. Two short films, filmed locally, are making their way through the festival circuit. Currently, we are in the midst of production on a feature length documentary film with author and historian Maury Thompson titled Charles Evans Hughes & The Adirondacks. Our first narrative feature Forget-Me-Nots is slated for production in summer of 2019.  

I believe that communication, team building and a clear workflow are keys to success. Advokate brings all of these aspects to their clients and staff while maintaining an artist’s approach. I am honored to be part of the team!

Caitlin Stedman

Kate Austin-Avon

Kate Austin-Avon is the owner and founder of Advokate, LLC. She lives in Glens Falls, New York, with her husband Cory (Vice President of Advokate!) and their three children.