Jonathan Horstmann, Creative Multimedia Developer and Trainer, has been with Texas CASA for just over a year now. His role at Texas CASA includes creating graphic and video content for training and e-learning programs as well as capturing the great work of Texas CASA and the CASA network by acting as our on-staff videographer.
Tell us about your background leading up to CASA.
I had been working for a New York-based design firm doing mock-ups and packaging design work for private label merchandise companies. I went to school for graphic design thinking I wanted to be an animator. I had done freelance graphic work for Texas CASA before, but when the opportunity came for me to work for Texas CASA full time I jumped at it.
When you first got to Texas CASA, what did you come into?
I came into the largest nonprofit I ever worked for – previously I worked for smaller nonprofits. I came into a place where it struck me how much people were concerned about each other’s well-being. I was also a deer in headlights. I was about to have my first child, so everything around me had that “new car smell” to it.
I came in wanting to hit the ground running. Nonprofits work in a different sort of way though – you can’t just think of something and it just has to happen. That was how I had been working, where something needs to happen and you need to work for 48 hours straight in order to make it happen, then the next project would come down. So I had to slow myself down in a holistic way. I think it’s really great to learn to stop and really look at all the different influences that there are on any given project to make sure you’re doing what really needs to be done.
Tell us about your role here at Texas CASA.
My title is Creative Multimedia Developer and Trainer. That’s a mouthful, right?
It’s interesting because my role has shifted. Basically, at first I had been in charge of looking at any sort of visual things that were happening in training. Whether it was training materials or e-learning, I was making sure it’s up to standards. I was doing a lot of things with e-learning, both working with software myself to create trainings and working with contractors that were doing much larger e-learning projects. Having experience in e-learning is helpful when talking to contractors, instead of it being this “grey cloud” of e-learning software where we don’t know what it does and how it works.
When I first came on, we had this huge project. Texas CASA was updating the pre-service training: what all the CASA volunteers have to go through when they start. So there was this ginormous project that had to be done within four months of me first arriving here. My coworker, Abe Louise, was the one who inherited the project and brought me on. My part was helping them and creating an e-learning aspect of the pre-service training. What I did was take the readings and put them online in a way that was scalable for your phone or tablet. We tried to give the advocates another tool to try and make that training just a little easier. It was also about trying to maintain a standard of quality throughout the network.
I’ve also done a lot of video work in the past, and there is a lot of video work that needs to be done here. Training and Communications used to be two separate departments – now they’re one. So I’m doing my existing training job, but now I also have a whole bunch of video work I’ve been getting to do. Essentially I’m our in-house videographer now, which is awesome!
What does the future of your work look like?
Creating really engaging, high-quality content for Texas CASA to use in supporting the network and their individual goals. We have our annual conference coming up, for example, where we are trying to get as many folks as possible to join us in Galveston. It’s gonna be a great event! So I’m currently working a promotional video, and any other visual stuff they’re going to need – like onsite filming, photography, that kind of thing – I’ll have a hand in helping with that. I’ve also created highlight videos for CASA Day at the Capitol and our CFE Symposium that were held earlier this year. Hopefully I’ll keep creating the best content I can and growing in that, and hopefully, everything I make is better than the one before it. I’m really hoping to grow in my role with video and the work I’m doing for communications.
What is your favorite thing about working at Texas CASA?
I feel like the leadership has a vested interest in my success as a person, as a father and in my career, whether it be at CASA or what I do in the future. I’ve never been at a place where people were so open to talk about the fact that you might not be here forever and we want you to be able to have a really great jumping-off point when you leave. This isn’t a development tank, we have a very definite job to do here – but that sort of attitude from leadership is really awesome. They definitely care how you’re doing and how you’re going to be doing. They want to give you all the tools that you need in order to succeed here, but also afterwards.
I have two favorite things actually. The other thing would be, I get to do things that I love, creatively, in a way that is helping to make the world a better place for kids, but specifically for under-served populations. My day job is making an impact, and that’s really cool. I don’t have to leave work and be tired and then have to do something that fulfills me. I can just leave work, be tired and still feel fulfilled.
What does working a Texas CASA mean to you?
It means that I’m helping more kids have a childhood like my daughter will have. I’ve got an 11-month old, she’s almost 12 months now. She deserves the world, and I want to give it to her. That’s not going to be every kid’s experience, but here, we can make changes that can positively affect kids.