sash team post

Who’s Behind Sash, Anyway?

If you’re like some folks out there and you’ve already taken a minute to read about why we’re building Sash, you might now be curious to also know who is behind this little adventure. Below you’ll find just a bit about our team members, all of whom currently work fulltime jobs with other organizations and are helping build Sash on the nights and weekends in between.

Executive Team

Beka Johnson: CEO

Sash Personalities: Dabbler & Achiever

  • Quote: “Only the autodidacts are free.” –N.N. Taleb
  • Book: The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  • Film: Jojo Rabbit
  • Band: Radiohead

Beka got her start as an educator but has spent the last ten years of her career in marketing (education at scale) where she’s worked with numerous startups. Her most notable gig was a 3.5-year stint with Pushpay, a hypergrowth fintech SaaS organization out of Auckland, NZ. 

As a dabbler and professional nerd, Beka has tried to live a life of constant learning and improvement and has always tried to force herself into comfort-zone stretching opportunities. But as a former educator, she’s also keenly aware of how badly the education system is broken. 

Sash brings together all of the things Beka loves while also forging a new way for everything from education to employment to life goals to the sheer joy of checking something off a list.

JC Woodford: CTO

Sash Personalities: Learner & Achiever

  • Quote: “Kick logic out and make the impossible possible.” –Kamina from Gurren Lagann
  • Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Film: Ponyo
  • Band: KMFDM

JC has worked in the tech industry for over 20 years, doing everything from bench work to building enterprise servers and writing applications to work on those servers. He started as a kid taking computers apart and modifying the code in his PC games but quickly rose to repairing systems and networks for clients as a bench tech. 

JC has led customer support and development teams, taught team members new languages and systems, and also successfully implemented new databases and CRMs in various organizations. His experience runs the gamut from customer service, to front end, to back end. 

As a self-taught developer, JC is excited about how the Sash platform is designed to create opportunities for people just like him.

Kristen Schafer: CRO

Sash Personalities: Achiever & Optimizer

  • Quote: “Train hard, race fearlessly.” –Pro Runner, Stephanie Bruce
  • Book: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  • Film: The Proposal
  • Band: Michael Jackson

Highly driven and goal-oriented, Kristen earned a full-ride scholarship for her master’s degree in Strategic Communication from The Ohio State University and has won the Seattle Marathon. She’s competed in multiple business plan competitions and hackathons and judged the University of Washington’s “Dempsey Startup Competition” twice. 

For the last eight years, Kristen’s worked in technology, primarily focused on taking new products to market. As someone who is highly motivated by goals, badges, and medals, she’s excited to help build a platform to motivate others.

Michelle Ryan, CXO

Sash Personalities: Achiever & Do-Gooder

  • Quote: “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” –Chuck Palahniuk
  • Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Film: Spirited Away
  • Band: Radiohead

Michelle is diversely experienced with expertise in UI/UX, creative direction, marketing strategy, media development, design, and social entrepreneurship. She has a knack for understanding what makes people connect to and love a product.

Michelle co-founded We Are Louder to extend the movement for social good through entertainment and to expand the scope of social justice initiatives. She understands the power of media; by entertaining people, you can inspire masses. Michelle has helped create movements that have resulted in community solidarity and societal/political change.

She spearheaded a movement against child trafficking that gained the support of high-profile musicians, politicians, and advocates including UN Women, UNICEF, H.E.A.T. Watch, PROTECT, Blackalicious, Del the Funky Homosapien, Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, Jel of Anticon, Zion I, Kev Choice, and many more.

Matthew Stanley: General Manager

Sash Personalities: Learner & Do-Gooder

  • Quote: “A student repays a teacher badly by always remaining a pupil.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Book: Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • Film: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • Band: Beirut

Matthew was an avid scholar on the path towards becoming a philosophy professor in higher education, but after watching the university system chew up his friends and spit them out, he abandoned that path to work for a technology and logistics startup called XBE. His time at XBE was a baptism by fire into the world of entrepreneurship. There he got experience touching every aspect of the business, from customer service and software feature development to customer success and data analysis. He also received personal training from the experienced entrepreneur Sean Devine. Matthew’s experience at XBE prepared him to take this next step towards realizing the vision of Sash. 

Matthew sees Sash as both a call to action and a love letter to the world of learning. We must not see learning as the inevitable result of an institutional process, but rather as being born from intentionally pursuing wonder and joy. The Sash platform recaptures the curious and adventurous spirit of learning which current education systems have encrusted in a facade of money and bureaucracy.

Advisors

Stefan Haney: Business Advisor

Stefan is a 15-year Amazon veteran, an experienced senior business and technology leader with a proven track record of launching new technology, delivering business results, mission-critical programs, projects, and systems in a variety of industries.

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