Change the World with Your Data

ROI Solutions

You @ 25: Boomerangs, Movie Montages, and Coming Full Circle

ROI Solutions | You @ 25 Karen Taggart

When I was 25, I met Gina VanderLoop before she founded ROI Solutions. (Okay, I think I was technically 24, but I feel that +/- 1 is an appropriate deviation for this story). I was working at People For the American Way (PFAW) as a Development Associate (Development here means fundraising, not software development), and we were preparing an RFP for a new donor database solution. Gina presented the solution from the company she worked for at the time. I knew immediately that I needed to keep in touch with her.

We selected that system, and we were all disappointed (but also excited) when Gina told us she was leaving to start her own software company for nonprofits, ROI Solutions. I left PFAW to work for the direct marketing agency then known as Malchow Adams & Hussey, where I was trained by some of the best in the business and started to embrace my love of data, creating budgets, donor value reports, and masterminding some complex renewal selects. Many of my clients were frustrated with their donor data solutions at the time, so when it came time to plan for the company retreat, I thought it would be great to have Gina come to talk about what was new in the world of donor data management.

Now imagine that montage moment in a movie where 20+ years flash by, showing life’s ups and downs and all-arounds. I earned a Master’s in Teaching and taught 8th-grade US History for three years. Then, I returned to the Adams Hussey & Associates agency, where I created even more complex renewal selects (and sent some off to ROI Solutions to execute). I next worked in business development/sales for a socially responsible social network and then moved on to a large nonprofit where I was responsible for selecting and implementing a new CRM (no one said database anymore!), where we selected ROI Solutions. Finally, in 2011, I started working at ROI Solutions.

But that is not the end of the story. I left ROI Solutions in 2016 to try my hand at Government tech and then in start-up land, specifically in DevOps/Developer Tools. Since my mishmash of a career had finally seemed to settle on product ownership in software development, I wanted to throw myself into the deep end. While I am incredibly grateful for the people I met, the lessons I learned, and my experiences, that world was NOT for me. Prioritizing the needs of venture capital and investors, sometimes at the expense of end-user needs, didn’t sit right with me. Finding myself as one of the only women in the virtual room became exhausting. 

Fortunately, I still had this mentor and friend named Gina VanderLoop, who somehow, in this expansive world of tech, was still out there, growing this amazing mission-driven, investor-free company. I’m a boomerang, back at ROI Solutions for just over a year, and it feels like everything in my career has uniquely led up to this moment, and I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Here’s to the next 25 years!

This is part of an ongoing series of You @ 25 blog posts where ROI Solutions staff, clients, and partners reflect on lessons they learned at 25 (or through 25 years of professional work) that still guide their path today. Do you have a story to tell?  Email [email protected].

Get the latest ROI Solutions 
News & Insights