Empowered: Women in Leadership at Compass

Contributors: Heather Marshall, Jessica Hubbard, Emma Hunt, Diamond Holliday, Anna Rabideau, Jess Short, Nicki Kenny, Tawana Greene, Layna Connolly, Christen Comer, and Tuesday Phelps.

Clockwise, from top left: Nicki Kenny, Diamond Holliday, Anna Rabideau, Layna Connolly, Tawana Greene, Jess Short, Christen Comer, Emma Hunt, Tuesday Phelps, and Heather Marshall.


In celebration of Women’s History Month, we recently released the limited edition RBG Tin, in partnership with Academy Award winner, Freida Lee Mock, and her documentary film, Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneer for gender equality. Among many other things, RBG paved the way for women by fighting for equal pay in the workplace. This allowed for many, myself included, to find their voice and pursue their professional passions.

Four years ago, when I first began at Compass, I was just looking for a summer job. But what I quickly learned was that this is a company that invests in everyone, no matter your gender; for me, this means everything. It didn’t take long for me to learn that I wanted to continue to grow here, pursue leadership, and invest my time in developing others.

I had the pleasure of speaking with several leaders at Compass to learn more about their unique stories, their thoughts on Women’s History Month, and who has shaped them into the women they are today. Here are their stories.

— Jessica Hubbard, District Manager


Name

Text

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Name

Position

Clockwise, from top left: Nicki Kenny, Diamond Holliday, Anna Rabideau, Layna Connolly, Tawana Greene, Jess Short, Christen Comer, Emma Hunt, Tuesday Phelps, and Heather Marshall.


Jess Short

Café Manager

“Women are breaking barriers in ways never seen before. Yet, we’ve got more to do, and it won’t always be easy. It is important that we continue to support each other, and elevate women’s voices.“

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass.

My name is Jess Short and I have been at Compass for almost a year. I’ve mainly worked at our Ballston café, but was actually just promoted to Café Manager last week, when we reopened our 18th & Eye Café! I’m so excited to take on this new role, and be a part of a new community downtown.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

First thing in the morning, I typically make myself a french press of our Waypoint Blend. It’s my favorite for the winter: dark, toasty and warm. When I’m behind-bar, I love to explore the different seasonal menu options. This winter, I really enjoyed our Peppermint Latte! Now that we have our spring menu, the Lavender Latte is already my new favorite.

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

When I first joined Compass last summer, I knew I wanted to pursue leadership in the cafés. But based on my previous carpentry experience, I started my Compass journey in Ivy City, building out our new roasting facility. Who thought I’d put my knowledge of power tools to work at a coffee company?!

Construction is a field typically dominated by men. Working with the Ivy City crew, it felt great to be supported by the entire team, and also feel valued based on my work and expertise. When I walk around Ivy City, it’s an incredible feeling to know that I helped build this place, literally! I’ll always value that experience, and the relationships I built during that time. It’s also cool to share my experience with customers.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?  

This past year has been groundbreaking in so many ways; just look at VP Kamala Harris. Women are breaking barriers in ways never seen before. Yet, we’ve got more to do, and it won’t always be easy. It is important that we continue to support each other, and elevate women’s voices. Younger generations need to see and hear us having more discussions, and join in too! Even something as simple as this blog post can be so meaningful and impactful for some.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

I definitely value the contributions made by RBG, as well as VP Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. On a personal level, my biggest role models are my mom and my grandmother. They have really pushed through hard times and have been a rock for me. They taught me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. I will always strive to emulate their strength.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t take yourself too seriously. I have always been very driven, but that means I have also always been hard on myself. You can achieve anything that you put your mind to, but you don’t have to overwork yourself. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Talk to me about theatre! I love theatre and I just don't get to talk about it enough. I am also a big nerd — I love Dungeons and Dragons, so please talk to me about all of it!


Emma Hunt

Supervisor

“At Compass, we often say that training is continuous. It is on all of us, regardless of gender, to continue to learn and educate ourselves and others.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Emma Hunt. I am a supervisor and I have been at Compass for about a year and a half. Originally from Ohio, I moved to DC to study English at GW. Once I graduated, and finished with the Americorps as a literacy tutor, I fell in love with the Compass cafés, and the community the teams create. I knew I had to join the team.

Right now, I work at a few different locations, but primarily work at our Shay Café. My next goal is to train up to Café Manager, where I can build a team and help develop those around me.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

At home, I typically make drip coffee, so it brews while I take my dog Einstein for a walk. When I’m at the café, I always start my day with an Iced Red Eye for an extra jolt of energy!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

If I could sum up my experience with one word, it would be "empowering." I have been given opportunities to use my voice, and have gained the confidence to share my perspective. Before I came to Compass, I was very shy; it took me a while to come out of my shell. But seeing my managers, powerful women who led with poise, compassion, and confidence, inspired me to want to grow and lead others at Compass.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

There is so much to learn — I am learning about myself, how to embody feminism, and how to best support others. At Compass, we often say that training is continuous. It is on all of us, regardless of gender, to continue to learn and educate ourselves and others. Share the important stories and have meaningful conversations about the challenges that women face every single day. I am excited to see what the future holds for all of us.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

On a personal level, I’d have to say my mom, grandma and aunt have served as role models. While they have all had very different life paths and careers, they are all hard-workers, and have had a profound impact on who I am today. My mother was a professional woman who was very passionate about her work. My grandmother was a single mother and worked her whole life to support her children. And my aunt was an artist; all different paths, all powerful women - I like to think that I am a good mix of all three.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

For most of my childhood, I struggled to express myself. I honestly think this is something a lot of women struggle with. I would tell my younger self to be brave, and to push through the discomfort. It’s not always easy to show people your true, authentic self, but I’ve learned overtime how important it is. It’s worth it.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

When I am not at work, I spend a lot of time on creative endeavors. I have been a creative person my whole life, but I finally have the confidence to call myself an artist. Just take a look at my latte art! I have experimented with a lot of different mediums: water colors, markers, and block printing to name a few. Art is what brings me comfort and joy every single day.


Diamond Holliday

Supervisor

“I am very grateful to be at a company that values women’s opinions, and promotes women as equally as they would promote a man.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Diamond Holliday, I am a Supervisor at Compass Coffee and have been with Compass for over a year. I work at several of the cafés depending on the week, but I also really enjoy working out in Ivy City at our new roasting facility. While I was out there, I learned how to make our syrups and k-cups. Working in Ivy City made me appreciate the company in a different way, and allowed me to see behind-the-scenes, which really helped put things in perspective. I’m excited about our future!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

I love a Caramel Vanilla Latte with oat milk. Compass has the best vanilla syrup in DC! When I am at home, I stick to drip coffee. I like something simple that keeps me warm during the winter. I am always open to recommendations for the Spring!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

At Compass, I have the respect of everyone around me. Seeing so many women in leadership positions, especially young women, is really powerful. I feel like we are setting the examples and precedents for those who will come after us. I am very grateful to be at a company that values women’s opinions, and promotes women as equally as they would promote a man.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

Women can do everything that men can do, and it is important that we acknowledge that. Women do not get enough credit for everything that we take on. Women’s History Month gives us a chance to show that we are powerful, important, and are deserving of respect.

I am going to school to become an esthetician because I want to help women feel beautiful in their own skin. I want to show everyone that you should wear make-up for you, but you don’t need it to be beautiful. Every woman is beautiful in their own way, and we all need to do our part to celebrate that.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

My Step-Mom! She has been around my whole life. She inspires me to be a strong and caring woman. She is a teacher.Having her in my life motivates me to educate and inspire others too. She actually just moved to West Africa with my younger brother to teach abroad. I can't wait to visit!

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

To be more independent. I grew up with three older brothers and I learned to rely on them a lot. I saw them get different opportunities because they were boys, and at times that was really hard for me. I wish I had learned to use my voice sooner than I did because I think that would have given me the confidence to ask for the things that I wanted in life. I wish I learned earlier that it is okay to ask for things that you want.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

It is important for me to treat everyone with respect. Even if I am having a bad day, my customers would never know. I really appreciate all of my customers for coming in every day, especially those that are waiting for us to open the doors!


Tuesday Phelps

Tech Manager

“We have seen so many amazing women that have pushed through boundaries and gender constructs. We need to do our own work so that those who came before us, didn’t do it for nothing, and so that those who come after us have even more opportunities.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Tuesday Phelps and I am the Tech Manager! I am originally from San Antonio Texas and have been with Compass for about 3 years. Before I started at Compass, I was a customer, and would go in every day just to talk to the baristas. Eventually, the team convinced me to apply! I began as a barista at our Chinatown Café, and eventually trained up to be the Café Manager at our 17th & H café. Shortly after, I transitioned to managing our Tech Team. It’s been quite the journey!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

I typically like our Azimuth Blend in the morning, which is a dark roast. During the day, I switch to one of our light roasts, which I drink ALL DAY LONG. At home, I mostly make a french press each morning, typically a medium or a dark roast.

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

At Compass specifically, I manage a team of guys in what many may assume is a male-dominated industry. Honestly, my team is awesome. Life isn’t perfect, and I still sometimes face challenges with contractors or engineers outside of Compass — like speaking to other team members instead of me. I know I can rely on my team to help redirect the conversation, and make it clear that “I’m the one in charge.”

Now that I have been in the role for a year I am much more confident in my abilities. I feel that I have come into my own, which really gives me a leg to stand on during tough interactions.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

As women, we are still struggling and working towards a more equitable future. I have always been pushed to be whoever I want to be, by my family and friends. But there is still a lot of work that we have to do as women to be seen and heard. We have seen so many amazing women that have pushed through boundaries and gender constructs. We need to do our own work so that those who came before us, didn’t do it for nothing, and so that those who come after us have even more opportunities.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

In the art world, my role-model and favorite artist is Carolee Schneemann. She was a performance artist in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Back then, performance art was dominated by men. She worked hard to make art that guys weren’t typically comfortable with. Sometimes her pieces were a little crazy, but that is what made them great. While I was in art school, I really admired her and the way she broke barriers for women in the arts; you can see a lot of her style in my own art.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Just keep pushing for your goals and your dreams. Part of me regrets not going straight into my masters right outside of college; I got offered a full-ride and decided not to. Growing up, I should have focused more on myself instead of worrying about what others thought of me. That being said, I am happy and proud of where I am today and I wish my younger self could have known that it would all be alright.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Like me, there are other women in leadership roles throughout the Support Team departments too! Every time you go into a café, you can see all of the equipment, all which was installed by a whole team of people who care about making your day better. The Support Team works hard to help create the café environment, and space for customers to hangout and drink their coffee, even if you don’t see them every day.


Anna Rabideau

Logistics Manager

“Compass has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, but also to rely on my strengths as a woman, like building strong and meaningful relationships, which is an essential part of my job.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Anna Rabideau and I am the Logistics Manager at Compass. I started as a Barista at our Shaw Café about two years ago, which is where I trained up to be a Café Manager. I then transferred to work at our 14th and Eye Café for a few months before I became the Logistics Manager.

When I was in Café Manager Training, I had the opportunity to take on a few extra recruiting and customer service projects. During that time, I was mentored by Harrison, one of the co-founders, and got a look into the support side of the company. My interest began to pique as I learned more about the Support Team, and once the role opened up, I felt like I had to apply!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

When I am visiting our cafés, I always go for a cortado. But when I work out of our Roasting Facility in Ivy City, drip coffee is my go-to; we always have a shuttle of coffee brewing. At home, I like to make an Iced Ethiopian Pour Over. It really hits the spot, especially on a hot summer day!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

We have a lot of women in leadership roles at Compass. Actually, most of our managers are women. I don’t often think about my gender at work while interacting with those at Compass. I do think about it when I have to interact with outside contractors, or when I feel like it is necessary to be more authoritative.

This position at Compass has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, but also to rely on my strengths as a woman, like building strong and meaningful relationships, which is an essential part of my job.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

When I think about Women’s History Month, I’m reminded of a study I learned about as an anthropology major. The study focused on the misconceptions surrounding the notions that “men are the hunters,” and “women are the gatherers.” In reality, women actually “gathered” more calories on a weekly basis for their families than men did. Men experienced greater risks, but also greater failures, whereas women created a sustainable long-term solution for their families.

I think about this study a lot in relation to Women's History Month, and my own family. I saw my mom have a stable job, while also being the ultimate matriarch of the family; my dad, on the other hand, had this really cool job based on commission, which was more variable. A lot of what women have contributed to throughout history goes unnoticed, but in reality, the work that women have done serves as the foundation of our society.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

I grew up an athlete, so I was of course obsessed with people like Mia Hamm or Serena Williams. But when I think more about it, it feels like such a high honor to give someone the title of ‘role model.’ Now that I am older, I have learned that everyone has flaws, everyone has things they are working on, and everyone has qualities that are admirable.

I don’t truly think I have one role model, but there are several people who I have looked up to at various points in my life. I am thankful to have really strong women in my family; my mother and grandmother are both inspirations to me and have truly influenced the person I am today.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Lean into the experiences that might not make you feel super confident or comfortable. Embrace those moments and don’t run from them. I think confidence is something that many women struggle with, especially when they are younger. I am still struggling with it, but feel like I’m making strides every day. I am trying to grow, embrace every moment that feels hard and keep pushing forward.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Beyond the teams that you see in the café, there is a whole group of people working very hard to ensure that the coffee that you drink every day is tasty and delicious! Everyone on the Support Team really cares about the customer experience and wants to make their days better.


Christen Comer

Café Manager

“It wasn’t until I came to Compass that I truly saw people like me in leadership. Compass truly cares about their people. Here, I finally feel seen for who I am.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Christen Comer, and I just recently became a Café Manager at our 14th & Eye St. Café. I moved to DC about a year and a half ago from South Carolina and started at Compass shortly thereafter.

When I first started, I was a Barista at our 17th & H St. Café for just a few months before the Pandemic hit. I was laid off for a few weeks, before coming back to work at our new Roasting Facility in Ivy City, where I produced hand sanitizer and helped with some construction projects. My dad was a carpenter, so I had some experience in construction already. I then transferred back into the cafés to train up to Café Manager — it has been quite the year for me!  

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

Right now, my favorite coffee is our Embassy Blend, but in the summer I am sure I will revert back to our Ethiopian roast. When I am working, my first drink of the day is always a Red Eye with Almond Butter Syrup and Oat Milk. On my days off, my go-to is our Nitro Cold Brew. On rare occasions, I use a Keurig too, which is great because we now produce k-cups!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a Leader?

When I first started at Compass, it was meaningful to see so many women in leadership roles. Where I lived previously, I didn’t really have any examples of women or gay people in leadership roles. I grew up assuming this was the norm. It wasn’t until I came to Compass that I truly saw people like me in leadership. Compass truly cares about their people. Here, I finally feel seen for who I am.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

As women, we have been through a lot, and are still going through a lot, so it is nice to have this month that shows recognition for all of our collective hard work. Sometimes, I think people forget that women are still treated differently; we still face challenges every day. Women are too emotional to lead. You should focus on marrying someone to take care of you. Don’t you want to have children? These are the kinds of things I’ve been told or asked about all my life. I have to express my gratitude for my older sisters though; we always had each other’s back.

I always thought of myself as a progressive person, but when I moved to DC, I learned that there was still so much for me to learn. I had to work hard to unlearn a lot of things. That is why it is so important that we celebrate Women’s History Month. We need to keep learning for the sake of those who came before us, and for the future generations too.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

On a personal level, my role model is my oldest sister. She was the first of all three of us to come out to my parents, and experiences the hardships that came with living her truth. I don’t think I would have had the courage to be on my own if it wasn’t for her. She helped me get on my feet, gave me a place to stay, and gave me courage to be my truest self.

I also really look up to my grandmother, who left a bad situation to lead a more fulfilling, happy, independent life for her and her family. Learning her story of independence, especially during that time period, is really inspiring. Deciding to choose yourself over a relationship is hard, but I have so much respect for her.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

To have more faith in myself and trust myself to know where I need to be. When I was a kid, I didn’t think I would be where I am today; I think I’m doing alright. :)

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

I fought really hard to be here in DC and to be a part of the community here. I want to talk to our customers just as much as they want to talk to the team behind the bar. Every interaction that I have with my customers, learning people’s names and details about their personal lives, is what makes me feel like I am part of the community. So please, engage, ask me questions, and come visit me at our 14th & Eye Café!


Tawana Greene

Supervisor

“It has been an awesome experience to see women in leadership at Compass; it truly speaks volumes to the values that the company upholds.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Tawana Green, and I work primarily at our Spring Valley Café and our Georgetown Café. I just recently became a Supervisor, and I am excited for this newest leadership challenge. I have lived in DC all my life, born and raised, and have been in the coffee industry for most of my professional career.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

Any drip coffee. I make about two cups of coffee before I even come into my shift. At the café, my go-to drink is a dirty Vanilla Chai Latte with oat milk. In the summer, I will still drink hot coffee first thing in the morning, but definitely gravitate more towards Iced Teas and refreshing drinks in the afternoon!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

It has been an awesome experience to see women in leadership at Compass; it truly speaks volumes to the values that the company upholds. It wasn’t too long ago in the industry that you wouldn’t typically see women in leadership or the District Manager role. From the moment I began at Compass, I have been embraced, developed and invested in; it has been truly an awarding experience.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

As a kid, I was so confused as to why my college educated mom worked so hard, yet still struggled. As I got older, I began to better understand all the barriers women face, especially mothers. Women’s History Month gives us the platform to focus on the difficult conversations we need to have, and recognize women and all of our accomplishments.

Seeing powerful women, such as Kamala Harris or Michelle Obama, empowers me to think that I too can achieve great things. I could make a positive impact on the world.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

My mom; she is no longer with me anymore, unfortunately, though will always be my greatest role model. My ultimate goal will always be to make her proud. I also look up to Michelle Obama — she is the epitome of class. In my previous job, we catered healthy organic lunches for school. Michelle Obama actually created that program. We had the chance to visit the White House and hear her talk about obesity and taking care of yourself. Anyone like Michelle Obama, who takes the time out of their busy schedule to talk to the people, is someone who I look up to. One day, I would like to be recognized as someone who commands respect based on their actions, just like Michelle.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dream big, work hard, and embrace every new opportunity that comes your way. Take a moment to listen to what others say to you. When I was younger, I always got in trouble for talking too much. Over time I have learned that there is so much to gain by simply listening to one another.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

A lot of times, people look at me and think I am a strong, tough person, which I am. But I also want people to know that I am caring, I am genuine, and I am looking to build relationships that I can maintain over a lifetime. I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around me; you can come and talk to me about anything. I’m always here to listen!


Heather Marshall

Café Manager

“Being valued for who I am has been reassuring as I continue to pursue leadership. It is awesome to know that all of my opinions and contributions are heard and encouraged.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Heather Marshall and I am the Café Manager at Georgetown. I began as a barista at our 18th & Eye Café a year and a half ago. A few months ago I officially joined the Georgetown Team as the manager, and it really feels like home. I am originally from the Philadelphia area, but I went to school in Boston. Once I graduated I decided to move to DC, which is when I found Compass.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

Typically, I love a good dark roast first thing in the morning; Azimuth is my favorite blend. It is honestly the best coffee on Earth. The café serves Waypoint right now because most customers prefer it, so I do drink that throughout the day too! When I am at home, I make a pot of our Sumatra roast and will drink that all day. Most days I will use just a regular drip coffee machine, but I also have a French Press, Aeropress, Chemex and Mocha Pot; depending on my mood, I will rotate through the different brewing options. I could honestly set up my own café in my kitchen!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a Leader?

Based on my experience in the service industry, it seems common to have female bosses, but I found that particularly true at Compass. My hiring manager was a woman, my manager who trained me to be a Café Manager was a woman, and both District Managers are also women. When I first started, I saw the respect that my manager had from not only her team, but the company as a whole. Being valued for who I am has been reassuring as I continue to pursue leadership. It is awesome to know that all of my opinions and contributions are heard and encouraged.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

It means a lot to me to highlight all of the amazing women that have existed, even if it's just for one month. Reflecting on the history of women makes me proud of my journey, and the leader I’ve already become. There’s also much more work we all have to do in the pursuit of equality. Celebrating this month helps put a spotlight on the issues we all face, and helps facilitate the important conversations we need to have.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

First off, RBG shares my birthday, but on a personal level, my best friend’s mom, Diane Sweeny, is one of my role models. She is a high school math teacher and is like a second mom to me. She always taught me not to be afraid of being a woman, to stand up for your own convictions, and never accept anything less than what I deserve. My own mother also taught me how much one person can handle when life literally throws you everything at once; she even got her masters through life’s trials and tribulations.

In college, I was thankful to have professors that encouraged feminism and women authors in the classroom; they never shied away from talking about the real issues that women still face today.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

It is okay to take time for yourself. Most of the women I know are the hardest workers that I have ever met. As women, it is not uncommon to feel like you might fall behind if you take time off, but that means that we never take time for ourselves. It is okay to not want to do everything. It is okay to take the time you need, and it is okay to run away and live in a forest if that is what you want to do. Just take time for yourself. Trust me.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

I want my customers to understand everything that goes on in order for us to be open and as welcoming as we are. It is great to see our customers hanging around and chatting with us, and we appreciate having everyone in the café, but I also want my customers to appreciate those who don’t work behind bar every day. We should all recognize those who roast our coffee, who produce our syrups, and those who hire great people to work here. I am so thankful that Michael and Harrison were able to start a company like this, a company where I could grow, become a leader, and invest my time in others too.


Layna Connolly

Director of Business Development

“At Compass, I feel like I have a voice that is heard and I have a seat at the table…. Sometimes, as a woman, it can be scary to share your point of view with men in leadership roles — but that hasn’t been the case at Compass.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Layna Connolly and I am the Director of Business Development at Compass Coffee; I lead our sales team, with a focus on our CPG sales, which is sales to grocery stores, markets, bodegas etc. I have been at Compass for about 6 months, but have been a fan of Compass for many years.

Actually, the way I ended up at Compass is a funny story. About 4 years ago, I walked into Compass to send a quick work email. Michael, one of the co-founders, just happened to walk by at the time and we started talking about coffee and the work I was doing. We became instant friends. Flash forward, four years later I learned that Compass was looking for someone to build a world-class sales team. I reached out to see if I could be of any help. And now here I am!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

At home, we brew the Waypoint Blend every morning. Even before I began working at Compass, we were hardcore Compass Coffee drinkers. I got my husband hooked on it too! I do my best to try to stop drinking coffee by 2 pm so that I can sleep at night, but I tend to drink several cups of coffee throughout the day!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

At Compass, I feel like I have a voice that is heard and I have a seat at the table. As a company, it seems that all points of view are seen and they really encourage open and honest conversations. Sometimes, as a woman, it can be scary to share your point of view with men in leadership roles — but that hasn’t been the case at Compass.

As a mother of three, I was truly shocked at how understanding the founders were to my needs. As two young guys with no kids, for them to be so flexible when the unexpected happens — snow days, sick days, teacher work days - and for them to acknowledge that a woman’s voice really does matter, is truly meaningful and valuable.  

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

Women are the backbone of everything. Being a wife, and a mother, and an employee, I truly have realized how many responsibilities women take on. Women tend to be the natural care-takers, and time after time, we see women step up to the plate in many ways. They don’t always ask for a lot of credit, and Women’s History Month is just one small step to giving them the recognition they deserve.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

My mother-in-law is one of my biggest inspirations, which I know it is not the norm to love your husband’s mom. She has six children, and is the breadwinner of the house. She can be tough and really tell you how it is, but she is also loving and a nurturing mother. She is everything that I hope to achieve in my professional and personal life.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

When you are trying your best, and you are giving it your all, you are doing the right thing. Anxiety can be crippling, in the workplace and in personal life, but if you just remember to take a deep breath and have some confidence in yourself, it will all work out.

I truly believe that the best asset a woman can have is their voice. But as a woman, you don’t have to also lose your warmth. Even if you are working in a male dominated industry, such as business and sales, let your personality shine through. Be direct, while also being who you are.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

I truly do love this company and the coffee that it serves; it is actually real good coffee. I am so happy to be a part of this company and the new opportunities that are on the horizon. Look out for our coffee in grocery stores near you!


Nicki Kenny

Controller

“[My Daughters] get to see that you can be a mom, or the Vice President, or an athlete. That right there is empowerment.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Nicki Kenny and I have been with Compass since 2017! My position is the “controller,” which deals with accounting for the company. But just like everyone else, I went through Barista training! After I had my second daughter, about two years ago, I decided to take a step back from work and mostly just work part time. This past fall, when the accountant position became available, I decided it was time to rejoin Compass full-time!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

I drink Cardinal on drip year round, but right now I am really into our Cherry Blossom Blend. I stop by the Spring Valley location frequently to stock up on it for my husband and I.

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

I have had the opportunity to explore more than just the typical accounting tasks and responsibilities. I work closely with one of the co-founders, and really appreciated the room that he has given me to grow and develop. I have learned to do what I need to do in my role, while also taking on additional responsibilities to learn something new. I am very thankful to be a part of a company that allows me to have a voice and that pushes me to keep growing and developing in my role.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

It is so important that women have role models that they can look up to, especially my two daughters. When Kamala Harris was elected to be Vice President, I asked my oldest daughter, who is four, what is special about Harris being VP. She said, “She is a lady, mommy!” And that is what it’s all about. My daughters, and all young girls, get to live in a world where the VP being a woman is normal. They get to see that you can be a mom, or the Vice President, or an athlete. That right there is empowerment.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

Of course RBG is up there on my list of iconic women, but on a personal level, my sister is very important to me. She is confident and assertive, and is one of my best friends. She doesn’t let anything hold her back or let obstacles get in her way; she will look at a challenge and just find ways to ‘crush it.’ Professionally, she is very successful, but what I admire most about her is that she will always take the necessary time for her friends and family. As someone who really struggles with that, I really admire that she always makes time for the people in her life.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be more confident with who you are. When you are younger, it can be challenging to feel comfortable in your own skin or to speak up for what you believe in. Now, especially in the media, we are seeing a push for women to feel more confident in their body and with who they are, but I just wish I had learned that as a young girl. So many people can influence you, and sometimes not always in a positive way. It is important to always remember who you are, and stay true to yourself.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Finding balance in our lives is so important. Especially now that I have two daughters and work full-time, I have learned that it is okay to define boundaries when you need to. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You can be successful in your life, while also taking time for yourself. And I encourage all of our customers to do that: take time for yourself, go for a walk and grab a cup of coffee!

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we recently released the limited edition RBG Tin, in partnership with Academy Award winner, Freida Lee Mock, and her documentary film, Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a pioneer for gender equality. Among many other things, RBG paved the way for women by fighting for equal pay in the workplace. This allowed for many, myself included, to find their voice and pursue their professional passions.

Four years ago, when I first began at Compass, I was just looking for a summer job. But what I quickly learned was that this is a company that invests in everyone, no matter your gender; for me, this means everything. It didn’t take long for me to learn that I wanted to continue to grow here, pursue leadership, and invest my time in developing others.

I had the pleasure of speaking with several leaders at Compass to learn more about their unique stories, their thoughts on Women’s History Month, and who has shaped them into the women they are today. Here are their stories.

— Jessica Hubbard, District Manager


Jess Short

Café Manager

“Women are breaking barriers in ways never seen before. Yet, we’ve got more to do, and it won’t always be easy. It is important that we continue to support each other, and elevate women’s voices.“

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass.

My name is Jess Short and I have been at Compass for almost a year. I’ve mainly worked at our Ballston café, but was actually just promoted to Café Manager last week, when we reopened our 18th & Eye Café! I’m so excited to take on this new role, and be a part of a new community downtown.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

First thing in the morning, I typically make myself a french press of our Waypoint Blend. It’s my favorite for the winter: dark, toasty and warm. When I’m behind-bar, I love to explore the different seasonal menu options. This winter, I really enjoyed our Peppermint Latte! Now that we have our spring menu, the Lavender Latte is already my new favorite.

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

When I first joined Compass last summer, I knew I wanted to pursue leadership in the cafés. But based on my previous carpentry experience, I started my Compass journey in Ivy City, building out our new roasting facility. Who thought I’d put my knowledge of power tools to work at a coffee company?!

Construction is a field typically dominated by men. Working with the Ivy City crew, it felt great to be supported by the entire team, and also feel valued based on my work and expertise. When I walk around Ivy City, it’s an incredible feeling to know that I helped build this place, literally! I’ll always value that experience, and the relationships I built during that time. It’s also cool to share my experience with customers.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

This past year has been groundbreaking in so many ways; just look at VP Kamala Harris. Women are breaking barriers in ways never seen before. Yet, we’ve got more to do, and it won’t always be easy. It is important that we continue to support each other, and elevate women’s voices. Younger generations need to see and hear us having more discussions, and join in too! Even something as simple as this blog post can be so meaningful and impactful for some.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

I definitely value the contributions made by RBG, as well as VP Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. On a personal level, my biggest role models are my mom and my grandmother. They have really pushed through hard times and have been a rock for me. They taught me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. I will always strive to emulate their strength.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t take yourself too seriously. I have always been very driven, but that means I have also always been hard on myself. You can achieve anything that you put your mind to, but you don’t have to overwork yourself. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Talk to me about theatre! I love theatre and I just don't get to talk about it enough. I am also a big nerd — I love Dungeons and Dragons, so please talk to me about all of it!


Emma Hunt

Supervisor

“At Compass, we often say that training is continuous. It is on all of us, regardless of gender, to continue to learn and educate ourselves and others.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Emma Hunt. I am a supervisor and I have been at Compass for about a year and a half. Originally from Ohio, I moved to DC to study English at GW. Once I graduated, and finished with the Americorps as a literacy tutor, I fell in love with the Compass cafés, and the community the teams create. I knew I had to join the team.

Right now, I work at a few different locations, but primarily work at our Shay Café. My next goal is to train up to Café Manager, where I can build a team and help develop those around me.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

At home, I typically make drip coffee, so it brews while I take my dog Einstein for a walk. When I’m at the café, I always start my day with an Iced Red Eye for an extra jolt of energy!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

If I could sum up my experience with one word, it would be "empowering." I have been given opportunities to use my voice, and have gained the confidence to share my perspective. Before I came to Compass, I was very shy; it took me a while to come out of my shell. But seeing my managers, powerful women who led with poise, compassion, and confidence, inspired me to want to grow and lead others at Compass.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

There is so much to learn — I am learning about myself, how to embody feminism, and how to best support others. At Compass, we often say that training is continuous. It is on all of us, regardless of gender, to continue to learn and educate ourselves and others. Share the important stories and have meaningful conversations about the challenges that women face every single day. I am excited to see what the future holds for all of us.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

On a personal level, I’d have to say my mom, grandma and aunt have served as role models. While they have all had very different life paths and careers, they are all hard-workers, and have had a profound impact on who I am today. My mother was a professional woman who was very passionate about her work. My grandmother was a single mother and worked her whole life to support her children. And my aunt was an artist; all different paths, all powerful women - I like to think that I am a good mix of all three.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

For most of my childhood, I struggled to express myself. I honestly think this is something a lot of women struggle with. I would tell my younger self to be brave, and to push through the discomfort. It’s not always easy to show people your true, authentic self, but I’ve learned overtime how important it is. It’s worth it.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

When I am not at work, I spend a lot of time on creative endeavors. I have been a creative person my whole life, but I finally have the confidence to call myself an artist. Just take a look at my latte art! I have experimented with a lot of different mediums: water colors, markers, and block printing to name a few. Art is what brings me comfort and joy every single day.


Diamond Holliday

Supervisor

“I am very grateful to be at a company that values women’s opinions, and promotes women as equally as they would promote a man.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Diamond Holliday, I am a Supervisor at Compass Coffee and have been with Compass for over a year. I work at several of the cafés depending on the week, but I also really enjoy working out in Ivy City at our new roasting facility. While I was out there, I learned how to make our syrups and k-cups. Working in Ivy City made me appreciate the company in a different way, and allowed me to see behind-the-scenes, which really helped put things in perspective. I’m excited about our future!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

I love a Caramel Vanilla Latte with oat milk. Compass has the best vanilla syrup in DC! When I am at home, I stick to drip coffee. I like something simple that keeps me warm during the winter. I am always open to recommendations for the Spring!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

At Compass, I have the respect of everyone around me. Seeing so many women in leadership positions, especially young women, is really powerful. I feel like we are setting the examples and precedents for those who will come after us. I am very grateful to be at a company that values women’s opinions, and promotes women as equally as they would promote a man.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

Women can do everything that men can do, and it is important that we acknowledge that. Women do not get enough credit for everything that we take on. Women’s History Month gives us a chance to show that we are powerful, important, and are deserving of respect.

I am going to school to become an esthetician because I want to help women feel beautiful in their own skin. I want to show everyone that you should wear make-up for you, but you don’t need it to be beautiful. Every woman is beautiful in their own way, and we all need to do our part to celebrate that.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

My Step-Mom! She has been around my whole life. She inspires me to be a strong and caring woman. She is a teacher.Having her in my life motivates me to educate and inspire others too. She actually just moved to West Africa with my younger brother to teach abroad. I can't wait to visit!

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

To be more independent. I grew up with three older brothers and I learned to rely on them a lot. I saw them get different opportunities because they were boys, and at times that was really hard for me. I wish I had learned to use my voice sooner than I did because I think that would have given me the confidence to ask for the things that I wanted in life. I wish I learned earlier that it is okay to ask for things that you want.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

It is important for me to treat everyone with respect. Even if I am having a bad day, my customers would never know. I really appreciate all of my customers for coming in every day, especially those that are waiting for us to open the doors!


Tuesday Phelps

Tech Manager

“We have seen so many amazing women that have pushed through boundaries and gender constructs. We need to do our own work so that those who came before us, didn’t do it for nothing, and so that those who come after us have even more opportunities.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Tuesday Phelps and I am the Tech Manager! I am originally from San Antonio Texas and have been with Compass for about 3 years. Before I started at Compass, I was a customer, and would go in every day just to talk to the baristas. Eventually, the team convinced me to apply! I began as a barista at our Chinatown Café, and eventually trained up to be the Café Manager at our 17th & H café. Shortly after, I transitioned to managing our Tech Team. It’s been quite the journey!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

I typically like our Azimuth Blend in the morning, which is a dark roast. During the day, I switch to one of our light roasts, which I drink ALL DAY LONG. At home, I mostly make a french press each morning, typically a medium or a dark roast.

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

At Compass specifically, I manage a team of guys in what many may assume is a male-dominated industry. Honestly, my team is awesome. Life isn’t perfect, and I still sometimes face challenges with contractors or engineers outside of Compass — like speaking to other team members instead of me. I know I can rely on my team to help redirect the conversation, and make it clear that “I’m the one in charge.”

Now that I have been in the role for a year I am much more confident in my abilities. I feel that I have come into my own, which really gives me a leg to stand on during tough interactions.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

As women, we are still struggling and working towards a more equitable future. I have always been pushed to be whoever I want to be, by my family and friends. But there is still a lot of work that we have to do as women to be seen and heard. We have seen so many amazing women that have pushed through boundaries and gender constructs. We need to do our own work so that those who came before us, didn’t do it for nothing, and so that those who come after us have even more opportunities.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

In the art world, my role-model and favorite artist is Carolee Schneemann. She was a performance artist in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Back then, performance art was dominated by men. She worked hard to make art that guys weren’t typically comfortable with. Sometimes her pieces were a little crazy, but that is what made them great. While I was in art school, I really admired her and the way she broke barriers for women in the arts; you can see a lot of her style in my own art.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Just keep pushing for your goals and your dreams. Part of me regrets not going straight into my masters right outside of college; I got offered a full-ride and decided not to. Growing up, I should have focused more on myself instead of worrying about what others thought of me. That being said, I am happy and proud of where I am today and I wish my younger self could have known that it would all be alright.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Like me, there are other women in leadership roles throughout the Support Team departments too! Every time you go into a café, you can see all of the equipment, all which was installed by a whole team of people who care about making your day better. The Support Team works hard to help create the café environment, and space for customers to hangout and drink their coffee, even if you don’t see them every day.


Anna Rabideau

Logistics Manager

“Compass has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, but also to rely on my strengths as a woman, like building strong and meaningful relationships, which is an essential part of my job.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Anna Rabideau and I am the Logistics Manager at Compass. I started as a Barista at our Shaw Café about two years ago, which is where I trained up to be a Café Manager. I then transferred to work at our 14th and Eye Café for a few months before I became the Logistics Manager.

When I was in Café Manager Training, I had the opportunity to take on a few extra recruiting and customer service projects. During that time, I was mentored by Harrison, one of the co-founders, and got a look into the support side of the company. My interest began to pique as I learned more about the Support Team, and once the role opened up, I felt like I had to apply!

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

When I am visiting our cafés, I always go for a cortado. But when I work out of our Roasting Facility in Ivy City, drip coffee is my go-to; we always have a shuttle of coffee brewing. At home, I like to make an Iced Ethiopian Pour Over. It really hits the spot, especially on a hot summer day!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

We have a lot of women in leadership roles at Compass. Actually, most of our managers are women. I don’t often think about my gender at work while interacting with those at Compass. I do think about it when I have to interact with outside contractors, or when I feel like it is necessary to be more authoritative.

This position at Compass has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, but also to rely on my strengths as a woman, like building strong and meaningful relationships, which is an essential part of my job.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

When I think about Women’s History Month, I’m reminded of a study I learned about as an anthropology major. The study focused on the misconceptions surrounding the notions that “men are the hunters,” and “women are the gatherers.” In reality, women actually “gathered” more calories on a weekly basis for their families than men did. Men experienced greater risks, but also greater failures, whereas women created a sustainable long-term solution for their families.

I think about this study a lot in relation to Women's History Month, and my own family. I saw my mom have a stable job, while also being the ultimate matriarch of the family; my dad, on the other hand, had this really cool job based on commission, which was more variable. A lot of what women have contributed to throughout history goes unnoticed, but in reality, the work that women have done serves as the foundation of our society.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

I grew up an athlete, so I was of course obsessed with people like Mia Hamm or Serena Williams. But when I think more about it, it feels like such a high honor to give someone the title of ‘role model.’ Now that I am older, I have learned that everyone has flaws, everyone has things they are working on, and everyone has qualities that are admirable.

I don’t truly think I have one role model, but there are several people who I have looked up to at various points in my life. I am thankful to have really strong women in my family; my mother and grandmother are both inspirations to me and have truly influenced the person I am today.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Lean into the experiences that might not make you feel super confident or comfortable. Embrace those moments and don’t run from them. I think confidence is something that many women struggle with, especially when they are younger. I am still struggling with it, but feel like I’m making strides every day. I am trying to grow, embrace every moment that feels hard and keep pushing forward.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Beyond the teams that you see in the café, there is a whole group of people working very hard to ensure that the coffee that you drink every day is tasty and delicious! Everyone on the Support Team really cares about the customer experience and wants to make their days better.


Christen Comer

Café Manager

“It wasn’t until I came to Compass that I truly saw people like me in leadership. Compass truly cares about their people. Here, I finally feel seen for who I am.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Christen Comer, and I just recently became a Café Manager at our 14th & Eye St. Café. I moved to DC about a year and a half ago from South Carolina and started at Compass shortly thereafter.

When I first started, I was a Barista at our 17th & H St. Café for just a few months before the Pandemic hit. I was laid off for a few weeks, before coming back to work at our new Roasting Facility in Ivy City, where I produced hand sanitizer and helped with some construction projects. My dad was a carpenter, so I had some experience in construction already. I then transferred back into the cafés to train up to Café Manager — it has been quite the year for me!  

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

Right now, my favorite coffee is our Embassy Blend, but in the summer I am sure I will revert back to our Ethiopian roast. When I am working, my first drink of the day is always a Red Eye with Almond Butter Syrup and Oat Milk. On my days off, my go-to is our Nitro Cold Brew. On rare occasions, I use a Keurig too, which is great because we now produce k-cups!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a Leader?

When I first started at Compass, it was meaningful to see so many women in leadership roles. Where I lived previously, I didn’t really have any examples of women or gay people in leadership roles. I grew up assuming this was the norm. It wasn’t until I came to Compass that I truly saw people like me in leadership. Compass truly cares about their people. Here, I finally feel seen for who I am.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

As women, we have been through a lot, and are still going through a lot, so it is nice to have this month that shows recognition for all of our collective hard work. Sometimes, I think people forget that women are still treated differently; we still face challenges every day. Women are too emotional to lead. You should focus on marrying someone to take care of you. Don’t you want to have children? These are the kinds of things I’ve been told or asked about all my life. I have to express my gratitude for my older sisters though; we always had each other’s back.

I always thought of myself as a progressive person, but when I moved to DC, I learned that there was still so much for me to learn. I had to work hard to unlearn a lot of things. That is why it is so important that we celebrate Women’s History Month. We need to keep learning for the sake of those who came before us, and for the future generations too.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

On a personal level, my role model is my oldest sister. She was the first of all three of us to come out to my parents, and experiences the hardships that came with living her truth. I don’t think I would have had the courage to be on my own if it wasn’t for her. She helped me get on my feet, gave me a place to stay, and gave me courage to be my truest self.

I also really look up to my grandmother, who left a bad situation to lead a more fulfilling, happy, independent life for her and her family. Learning her story of independence, especially during that time period, is really inspiring. Deciding to choose yourself over a relationship is hard, but I have so much respect for her.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

To have more faith in myself and trust myself to know where I need to be. When I was a kid, I didn’t think I would be where I am today; I think I’m doing alright. :)

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

I fought really hard to be here in DC and to be a part of the community here. I want to talk to our customers just as much as they want to talk to the team behind the bar. Every interaction that I have with my customers, learning people’s names and details about their personal lives, is what makes me feel like I am part of the community. So please, engage, ask me questions, and come visit me at our 14th & Eye Café!


Tawana Greene

Supervisor

“It has been an awesome experience to see women in leadership at Compass; it truly speaks volumes to the values that the company upholds.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Tawana Green, and I work primarily at our Spring Valley Café and our Georgetown Café. I just recently became a Supervisor, and I am excited for this newest leadership challenge. I have lived in DC all my life, born and raised, and have been in the coffee industry for most of my professional career.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

Any drip coffee. I make about two cups of coffee before I even come into my shift. At the café, my go-to drink is a dirty Vanilla Chai Latte with oat milk. In the summer, I will still drink hot coffee first thing in the morning, but definitely gravitate more towards Iced Teas and refreshing drinks in the afternoon!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

It has been an awesome experience to see women in leadership at Compass; it truly speaks volumes to the values that the company upholds. It wasn’t too long ago in the industry that you wouldn’t typically see women in leadership or the District Manager role. From the moment I began at Compass, I have been embraced, developed and invested in; it has been truly an awarding experience.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

As a kid, I was so confused as to why my college educated mom worked so hard, yet still struggled. As I got older, I began to better understand all the barriers women face, especially mothers. Women’s History Month gives us the platform to focus on the difficult conversations we need to have, and recognize women and all of our accomplishments.

Seeing powerful women, such as Kamala Harris or Michelle Obama, empowers me to think that I too can achieve great things. I could make a positive impact on the world.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

My mom; she is no longer with me anymore, unfortunately, though will always be my greatest role model. My ultimate goal will always be to make her proud. I also look up to Michelle Obama — she is the epitome of class. In my previous job, we catered healthy organic lunches for school. Michelle Obama actually created that program. We had the chance to visit the White House and hear her talk about obesity and taking care of yourself. Anyone like Michelle Obama, who takes the time out of their busy schedule to talk to the people, is someone who I look up to. One day, I would like to be recognized as someone who commands respect based on their actions, just like Michelle.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dream big, work hard, and embrace every new opportunity that comes your way. Take a moment to listen to what others say to you. When I was younger, I always got in trouble for talking too much. Over time I have learned that there is so much to gain by simply listening to one another.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

A lot of times, people look at me and think I am a strong, tough person, which I am. But I also want people to know that I am caring, I am genuine, and I am looking to build relationships that I can maintain over a lifetime. I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around me; you can come and talk to me about anything. I’m always here to listen!


Heather Marshall

Café Manager

“Being valued for who I am has been reassuring as I continue to pursue leadership. It is awesome to know that all of my opinions and contributions are heard and encouraged.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Heather Marshall and I am the Café Manager at Georgetown. I began as a barista at our 18th & Eye Café a year and a half ago. A few months ago I officially joined the Georgetown Team as the manager, and it really feels like home. I am originally from the Philadelphia area, but I went to school in Boston. Once I graduated I decided to move to DC, which is when I found Compass.

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

Typically, I love a good dark roast first thing in the morning; Azimuth is my favorite blend. It is honestly the best coffee on Earth. The café serves Waypoint right now because most customers prefer it, so I do drink that throughout the day too! When I am at home, I make a pot of our Sumatra roast and will drink that all day. Most days I will use just a regular drip coffee machine, but I also have a French Press, Aeropress, Chemex and Mocha Pot; depending on my mood, I will rotate through the different brewing options. I could honestly set up my own café in my kitchen!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a Leader?

Based on my experience in the service industry, it seems common to have female bosses, but I found that particularly true at Compass. My hiring manager was a woman, my manager who trained me to be a Café Manager was a woman, and both District Managers are also women. When I first started, I saw the respect that my manager had from not only her team, but the company as a whole. Being valued for who I am has been reassuring as I continue to pursue leadership. It is awesome to know that all of my opinions and contributions are heard and encouraged.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

It means a lot to me to highlight all of the amazing women that have existed, even if it's just for one month. Reflecting on the history of women makes me proud of my journey, and the leader I’ve already become. There’s also much more work we all have to do in the pursuit of equality. Celebrating this month helps put a spotlight on the issues we all face, and helps facilitate the important conversations we need to have.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

First off, RBG shares my birthday, but on a personal level, my best friend’s mom, Diane Sweeny, is one of my role models. She is a high school math teacher and is like a second mom to me. She always taught me not to be afraid of being a woman, to stand up for your own convictions, and never accept anything less than what I deserve. My own mother also taught me how much one person can handle when life literally throws you everything at once; she even got her masters through life’s trials and tribulations.

In college, I was thankful to have professors that encouraged feminism and women authors in the classroom; they never shied away from talking about the real issues that women still face today.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

It is okay to take time for yourself. Most of the women I know are the hardest workers that I have ever met. As women, it is not uncommon to feel like you might fall behind if you take time off, but that means that we never take time for ourselves. It is okay to not want to do everything. It is okay to take the time you need, and it is okay to run away and live in a forest if that is what you want to do. Just take time for yourself. Trust me.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

I want my customers to understand everything that goes on in order for us to be open and as welcoming as we are. It is great to see our customers hanging around and chatting with us, and we appreciate having everyone in the café, but I also want my customers to appreciate those who don’t work behind bar every day. We should all recognize those who roast our coffee, who produce our syrups, and those who hire great people to work here. I am so thankful that Michael and Harrison were able to start a company like this, a company where I could grow, become a leader, and invest my time in others too.


Layna Connolly

Director of Business Development

“At Compass, I feel like I have a voice that is heard and I have a seat at the table…. Sometimes, as a woman, it can be scary to share your point of view with men in leadership roles — but that hasn’t been the case at Compass.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Layna Connolly and I am the Director of Business Development at Compass Coffee; I lead our sales team, with a focus on our CPG sales, which is sales to grocery stores, markets, bodegas etc. I have been at Compass for about 6 months, but have been a fan of Compass for many years.

Actually, the way I ended up at Compass is a funny story. About 4 years ago, I walked into Compass to send a quick work email. Michael, one of the co-founders, just happened to walk by at the time and we started talking about coffee and the work I was doing. We became instant friends. Flash forward, four years later I learned that Compass was looking for someone to build a world-class sales team. I reached out to see if I could be of any help. And now here I am!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

At home, we brew the Waypoint Blend every morning. Even before I began working at Compass, we were hardcore Compass Coffee drinkers. I got my husband hooked on it too! I do my best to try to stop drinking coffee by 2 pm so that I can sleep at night, but I tend to drink several cups of coffee throughout the day!

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

At Compass, I feel like I have a voice that is heard and I have a seat at the table. As a company, it seems that all points of view are seen and they really encourage open and honest conversations. Sometimes, as a woman, it can be scary to share your point of view with men in leadership roles — but that hasn’t been the case at Compass.

As a mother of three, I was truly shocked at how understanding the founders were to my needs. As two young guys with no kids, for them to be so flexible when the unexpected happens — snow days, sick days, teacher work days - and for them to acknowledge that a woman’s voice really does matter, is truly meaningful and valuable.  

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

Women are the backbone of everything. Being a wife, and a mother, and an employee, I truly have realized how many responsibilities women take on. Women tend to be the natural care-takers, and time after time, we see women step up to the plate in many ways. They don’t always ask for a lot of credit, and Women’s History Month is just one small step to giving them the recognition they deserve.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

My mother-in-law is one of my biggest inspirations, which I know it is not the norm to love your husband’s mom. She has six children, and is the breadwinner of the house. She can be tough and really tell you how it is, but she is also loving and a nurturing mother. She is everything that I hope to achieve in my professional and personal life.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

When you are trying your best, and you are giving it your all, you are doing the right thing. Anxiety can be crippling, in the workplace and in personal life, but if you just remember to take a deep breath and have some confidence in yourself, it will all work out.

I truly believe that the best asset a woman can have is their voice. But as a woman, you don’t have to also lose your warmth. Even if you are working in a male dominated industry, such as business and sales, let your personality shine through. Be direct, while also being who you are.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

I truly do love this company and the coffee that it serves; it is actually real good coffee. I am so happy to be a part of this company and the new opportunities that are on the horizon. Look out for our coffee in grocery stores near you!


Nicki Kenny

Controller

“[My Daughters] get to see that you can be a mom, or the Vice President, or an athlete. That right there is empowerment.”

Tell us about yourself, your role, and your experience at Compass?

My name is Nicki Kenny and I have been with Compass since 2017! My position is the “controller,” which deals with accounting for the company. But just like everyone else, I went through Barista training! After I had my second daughter, about two years ago, I decided to take a step back from work and mostly just work part time. This past fall, when the accountant position became available, I decided it was time to rejoin Compass full-time!

What is your go-to coffee in the morning?

I drink Cardinal on drip year round, but right now I am really into our Cherry Blossom Blend. I stop by the Spring Valley location frequently to stock up on it for my husband and I.

How has Compass shaped your experience as a leader?

I have had the opportunity to explore more than just the typical accounting tasks and responsibilities. I work closely with one of the co-founders, and really appreciated the room that he has given me to grow and develop. I have learned to do what I need to do in my role, while also taking on additional responsibilities to learn something new. I am very thankful to be a part of a company that allows me to have a voice and that pushes me to keep growing and developing in my role.

Why is it important that we celebrate Women's History Month?

It is so important that women have role models that they can look up to, especially my two daughters. When Kamala Harris was elected to be Vice President, I asked my oldest daughter, who is four, what is special about Harris being VP. She said, “She is a lady, mommy!” And that is what it’s all about. My daughters, and all young girls, get to live in a world where the VP being a woman is normal. They get to see that you can be a mom, or the Vice President, or an athlete. That right there is empowerment.

With everything that RBG has accomplished for women in the pursuit of equality, she has become a role model to many. Who are your role models?

Of course RBG is up there on my list of iconic women, but on a personal level, my sister is very important to me. She is confident and assertive, and is one of my best friends. She doesn’t let anything hold her back or let obstacles get in her way; she will look at a challenge and just find ways to ‘crush it.’ Professionally, she is very successful, but what I admire most about her is that she will always take the necessary time for her friends and family. As someone who really struggles with that, I really admire that she always makes time for the people in her life.

If you were to give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be more confident with who you are. When you are younger, it can be challenging to feel comfortable in your own skin or to speak up for what you believe in. Now, especially in the media, we are seeing a push for women to feel more confident in their body and with who they are, but I just wish I had learned that as a young girl. So many people can influence you, and sometimes not always in a positive way. It is important to always remember who you are, and stay true to yourself.

What is something that you would like our customers to know about you?

Finding balance in our lives is so important. Especially now that I have two daughters and work full-time, I have learned that it is okay to define boundaries when you need to. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You can be successful in your life, while also taking time for yourself. And I encourage all of our customers to do that: take time for yourself, go for a walk and grab a cup of coffee!