Sam Minneti has worked as project manager and content strategist with Design Rangers for more than five years — or, she likes to say, 15 years in “Millennial time.”
Generational humor aside, Design Rangers has been a marker of stability for the 27-year-old Minneti, a Florida native who lived in Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington before moving to Colorado Springs more than eight years ago.
“My childhood was definitely a little all over the place — I moved around a lot, and never by my choice,” Minneti said. “I think Colorado Springs, even though I wasn’t born here, is the first place that has truly felt like home to me.”
Minneti’s college life was similarly “all over the place,” and she changed majors “five or six times” before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from UCCS. Although she had never considered a career in marketing, she found she enjoyed helping local companies connect to a broader audience.
“To me, words and communication and being able to express yourself, whether you’re a person or a brand, is what connects you to the world around you,” Minneti said. “I think we’re all just looking to connect with each other at deeper levels. … I know it sounds all completely woo-woo, but to me that’s what copy writing does — it connects you to people who believe what you believe.”
This week Minneti talked with the Business Journal about her work with Design Rangers, the growth she has witnessed in Downtown Colorado Springs, and how young professionals can have a say in shaping their community.
What are your responsibilities with Design Rangers?
Like any small business, we all wear a whole handful of hats — an entire closet of hats. I write proposals, I do content strategy for campaign websites, I do personality camps for brands — so helping organizations understand who they are at a human level. … I think nowadays, people expect that out of brands. In the age of being able to tweet at Skittles, or text Starbucks, someone wants to be able to experience a brand in a human way. … Design Rangers works with about 60 to 70 percent nonprofits, and there are a lot of nonprofits in our community doing great work, and it’s challenging to differentiate from all the other nonprofits and the great work that they’re doing. … So how do we craft that story in a way that’s truly authentic to that nonprofit, but also compels someone to … donate, volunteer or support their specific mission? I’m also the project manager, so I manage a team of five of us — everything from schedules to roles and responsibilities, expectations, timelines, making sure the client is satisfied and, simultaneously, our team feels fulfilled and excited about the project we’re working on.
That’s a lot of work.
I kind of like wearing multiple hats, though. I like being able to hop from right brain to left brain. I enjoy the creative, strategic side of the work, and then there are times when it’s 3 p.m. on a Thursday where I just want to build out the schedule and create timelines and plan out the next couple of weeks. It’s nice to be able to hop in and out of those different aspects of my job.
… Switching from my left brain to my right brain is not always as easy as a flip of a switch. … I think the brain switching is what’s most challenging, but at the same time, it’s the most rewarding. … I find it fun and it keeps me on my toes, and I don’t get burned out on either side because I get to switch from one to the other.
If you had to do a personality camp for the Colorado Springs nonprofit community, what would the results look like?
I think they’re ambitious, which I think is what makes me so excited to work with them. … Despite the fact that there’s so many nonprofits in this community to compete for dollars and volunteer hours and manpower, the nonprofits in this community seem really hopeful and ambitious — scrappy and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. … I think passion is contagious, and as soon as I see a nonprofit come in and they’re like, ‘This is what we’re trying to achieve and this is how we’re doing it differently’ — I can’t help but get excited and be like, ‘OK, let’s do it. How do we hone in on the story … and how do we get you to the people who already believe what you believe; they just maybe don’t know you exist yet?
How have you seen Colorado Springs change since you’ve moved here?
I feel like I got the chance to live here in a time where Colorado Springs grew tremendously — I mean gosh, when I moved here, downtown was not what it is right now. … I don’t know if Colorado Springs just grows a lot every decade, or I got to be in the prime growth period, but every time I see a U.S. News & World Report that Colorado Springs is the most appealing place to live for Millennials, I take a sense of pride in that. … I am one person in a sea of people, but I am a firm believer that the grass is not greener on the other side. Water your own grass. When I graduated from UCCS, I knew a lot of people that wanted to move to Boulder or Denver, and those communities are so fun to visit and be in, but there’s no reason that Colorado Springs can’t be the things that you love about Denver or Boulder if you stay and make those things happen.
You’re currently taking the LeadershipNow! class and joining the Give! Campaign board in January. Why is community involvement important to you?
People talk about [how] they want to make whatever community they’re in a better place and I anxiously, eagerly feel that. … [Colorado Springs] feels like the home that I have made, and because Design Rangers is so involved in the nonprofit community, it feels like the home that I have a small say in where the city goes. … Yeah, I’m one person but I get to have opinions and make a difference and be connected to community members that are doing great things. … I’m like, ‘With the skill sets that I have, what can I do to like make this community a better place? How can I engage?’ When the city sends out the survey about the three parks, I want to answer that survey. I want to be available at city forums.
What is a good first step for young people looking to get involved in their community?
I talked with [Lane Foundation Executive Director] Tony Rosendo and asked him, ‘How do I plug in?’ He said, ‘Figure out what you’re passionate about, and then find the organization that’s doing that and help them do that better.’ It seems so obvious, but I think sometimes it [takes] a little bit of self-reflection, like, ‘What the heck am I even interested in? I can’t be interested in everything. What is the purpose or the mission that I’m most interested in?’ Find a nonprofit that’s doing that — because chances are in Colorado Springs, there’s absolutely one that’s already doing that — and then help them do that better based on what you’re already good at.
I think joining boards is a great way [to get involved] because, to be honest, there’s been a time in our country and community where boards are usually older white men. … I think women — young women now more than ever — absolutely should put themselves in board positions if they have the time and the capacity to commit to that. If you don’t, I’ve talked to so many nonprofits that are like, ‘We just want volunteers…’ so I don’t think it’s always that you have to join a board to make a difference. It just depends on if you’re the type of person who wants to be the boots on the ground … or if you want to be someone who’s moving the compass in the right direction for the organization. Honestly, I think at different times in your life, you might be different things for different organizations.