I grew up in Indianapolis, IN. I went to Oberlin College, where I triple-majored in English, Musicology, and History. During the month of January, Oberlin had Winter Term, a month where students could do personal projects instead of taking classes. For one Winter Term project, I taught myself HTML, knowing that this would be a useful skill to have.
It paid off in my first job after I graduated: I was hired by Oberlin’s local history museum. They were delighted to find someone who could not only give museum tours, but also create their first website. Then I moved to New York City and studied Medieval History at Fordham University. My professors were also glad to have a student with web development skills. I worked on several department websites, and I also helped to build some online databases.
My biggest web project in graduate school was the Online Medieval Sources Bibliography. This is a searchable database of modern editions of medieval primary sources. This project made use of my skills as a historian and a web developer, and gave me opportunities to learn a lot about web development. For a while, the site was built in Ruby on Rails: I taught myself Ruby and Ruby on Rails so that I could develop and maintain it. Eventually, we were frustrated by Ruby on Rails’ limitations, and I rewrote the site in PHP. These days, I am really itching to rewrite it again with WordPress.
Meanwhile, while I was working on my PhD dissertation (“The Manuscript Context of Medieval Welsh Prophecies”), I needed part-time work. I had become familiar with WordPress in 2007 when I was teaching and needed a blog to keep in touch with my students. In 2009, I started picking up some WordPress development work to pay my way through school.
At first, I just used CSS to change existing WordPress themes. But I soon started messing with template files, and before long I was coding my own themes from scratch. This quickly blossomed into a thriving business. I stopped writing my dissertation so that I could devote myself to WordPress development full-time.
For several years, I specialized in working with graphic designers to turn their designs into WordPress websites. I fostered happy relationships with many clients: they were thrilled by my pixel-perfect attention to detail, my good communication skills, and my ability to do good work quickly.
The themes I built became more and more complex, so before long it wasn’t much of a jump to start developing plugins. I built a few plugins for clients that I later released to the public. I really like using WordPress as an application framework: it provides a user-friendly basis for an infinite variety of uses.
After several years of freelancing, I realized that it was time for me to get a job. I wanted to focus on development, instead of spending most of my time running a business. I wanted opportunities to work on bigger projects than I could take on as a solo freelancer. So in 2016 I joined the team at Range, a small WordPress design and development agency. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Range, but found that the projects there were still not as large-scale as I was hoping to be involved in.
In February of 2018, Range went through some big changes, and it is a good time for me to move on to the next big stage of my development career. WordPress is about to go through some big changes, and I’m ready to learn and evolve with it. I’m excited about my next chapter!