Executive Director- An Introduction

Hey, I’m Trish, Gangplank’s Executive Director.


Many of you know that Gangplank’s first employee, Katie Hurst headed off on new adventures in October. At that time, I was given the opportunity to challenge myself as the Executive Director for Gangplank. Many of us have already shared meals, ideas, questions, stories, and challenges. However, with a community that now extends globally, I know there are many more community members I have yet to meet. Hopefully this introduction provides a little background.

I am passionately curious. I love meeting people, exploring, and challenging myself. I started college as a parks and recreation major with an emphasis in experiential education. I had the opportunity to practice as an experiential educator while exploring team dynamics and promoting pro social behavior on NAU’s Challenge Course. It turned out team dynamics and social psychology fascinated me more than recreation. I still try to bring an element of play to everything I do, but I found myself taking social psych classes and graduated with a major in psychology.

Upon graduation, I spent several years in career and academic advising. I love seeing people pursue their passions and find meaningful employment. However, I still hoped to do something related to team building or community building. I was also starting to take an interest in under resourced communities.  Two years ago I left academic advising to pursue these interests.  I obtained a certificate in community development and spent my time visiting under resourced communities. It was a year full of learning and exploring the unique challenges and assets of communities around the country.

After returning to Chandler, my hometown, I came across Gangplank’s website. It completely baffled me, but piqued my interest enough that I stopped in for a brownbag several days later. I still vividly recall that day. With little idea of what I was walking into, I showed up for an open forum brown bag on the topic of “Getting involved in Gangplank”. The good thing about an open forum is engagement was expected and thus I had the chance to make a few immediate connections. The uncomfortable part was that I found myself diving into a brainstorming session on the topic of Gangplank initiatives within my first hour at Gangplank. In the spirit of giving before you get, I went ahead and offered to volunteer my skills in event planning. Katie however contacted me several days later and asked me to join the GP staff as a marketing and events intern (in this instance intern was purely a code word for unpaid staff member). I never would have imagined that this scenario of diving in during uncomfortable situations would come to characterize my time with Gangplank. It often feels like my role with Gangplank changes daily.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with intelligent and capable individuals as I continue to take on this challenge. 
A few fun facts:

  • I have a nerdy love for AZ human and natural history. I actually collect books that relate to AZ.
  • I was a white water rafting guide in the Grand Canyon for several summers.
  • I love water fights.
  • I am the mama of a 7 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He has his mama’s naturally curly brown hair and love for water.
  • I can juggle 3 objects fairly easily. I haven’t tried in a while, but probably could pull off 4.
  • I didn’t own a smart phone for my first 8 months around Gangplank. Clearly I love social experiments. ;)

I would love the chance to meet you you as well. If we haven’t met yet, please introduce yourself if you see me around or feel free to shoot me a message.

6 thoughts on “Executive Director- An Introduction

  1. Hi Trish
    I came across Gangplank while indulging my interest in looking at coworking spaces, collaboration initiatives, communities that try to create value in different ways. I would love to understand a bit more about Gangplank – unfortunately, being based in London, UK, a visit is not really a possibility (yet).
    My passion is connecting people, ideas, concepts, tools – I can never help telling people about something cool, new, fascinating, etc. What I find particularly interesting about Gangplank (other than that you see yourself as collaborative working space, not a co-working one) is that it is free: I love that concept. It maximises (I think?) the opportunity for serendipitous encounters (sorry, that sounds almost like management speak – but cannot think of a better way). I am a huge fan of that type of behaviour, I believe it enriches peoples individual and communal lives, so I am toying to set up a space that enables it: for free.
    I guess my question (sorry for the long ramble) is: how do you fund your costs?
    And would you be willing to have an email chat about your experience? I know that sounds very one-sided with me getting all the benefit, and I would add that I do always try to pay in social capital, so if there is something that would tempt you to reply, please let me know!

  2. Hi Trish! I found you all via the LiquidSpace site.

    I’m in Austin (home of the SXSW), on the Cont. Edu-Workforce end of Austin Community College. I see that your Gangplank Idea is spreading far-afield… and I wondered how folks are funding “space” (and whether I could facilitate launching one in Austin)? We would probably have to use ACC meeting rooms (or TX Workforce), until we could find a Sponsor (probably could pass the hat at SXSW Interactive). The LiquidSpace affiliates here all charge, and tho they are a good value… this is more akin to the “crater co-ops” that gel around town. I love this Model for interactivity! I have colleagues here – that could really link us to all the Tech-Start-Up Folks – in Austin.

    ACC hosted a lot of the Federal “stimulus” monies that hit ATX, and the US Dept of Labor-Women’s Bureau asked us to look into how Women can “get-into” Green Jobs.
    We were the only U.S. college to be asked! Campaign site: http://www.austincc.edu/green .
    Much of that grant largess is now dried-up (tho things do appear on-occasion). I’m a BIG PICTURE thinker – founding staffer of Green (“Co-op”) America (1984-90) and one of the Fairy-Godmothers of the “Eco/Responsible Tourism” movement in the U.S. We started promoting Sustainable Tourism in 1985. It really took-off (Arthur Frommer is a BIG FAN). After 25 years in that field (Hawaii/Pacific/CA), I am now trying to cap my “CO2” with promotion of more “Green” Tech Jobs. “Smart Phones for Smart Homes” (APPs) and Auto-CAD (AutoDesk Sustainability Initiative). The Green Tech Alliance is based here in Austin (IT). I think we must have a Chapter!

    P.S. My partner J. Hedgecoke is in AJ w/Family right now – so near you. A musician (networks in both PHX & ATX). Band: The Black Bridge Manifesto (Reverb Nation) he once led a band in Tempe (Nocturnal Bloom). Composes web content and scores various projects. I’ve sent him this link. Wish he’d known about y’all, back in 2010!

    • Hi Shelly,
      We would definitely be interested in talking to you about a potential location in Austin. I will send you an email.

  3. Hi Katie!

    I’m curious! I’m trying to understand what GP is exactly…is it for already started businesses or people that want to start businesses? …or people with talents coming together? Do you have a Phoenix group? Thank you!


    • Hi Karyn,
      Yes, to all of the above. We have some people who have started businesses that are involved at GP and some that are working on starting a business as well as people with talents that do not own their own business, but meet to connect and share talents. We don’t currently have a location in Phx. Stop in the Chandler or Avondale location sometime to check it out for yourself though.

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