Jackie Asekhauno, who’s senior project manager of learning and experiences at SMPS HQ, took time out of her busy day to answer a few questions. Jackie calls Cary, NC, home and works remotely from there.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Herndon, VA. I loved growing up so close to the nation’s capital—dad was a retired military officer and worked at the Pentagon, which brought my family to the area. When I was really young, my family moved frequently due to my father being in the Navy, so finally settling down in one place was such a joy.
What was your favorite pastime growing up? If you could find me, I was outside coordinating a kickball, baseball, or basketball game with friends or riding bikes. I was terrible at sports (I still am!), but I just wanted to be social.
Tell us a little bit about your experience before joining SMPS. I’ve been working in the nonprofit space for over 20 years. I started my career at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and fell in love with volunteer and event management. From there, I spent a few years with the American Association of Anatomists as a meeting planner, which gave me experience in the scientific space. After relocating to the Raleigh-Durham area, I found a home at the American Camp Association and helped accredit summer camps and plan their events. Next, I joined the NC Association of Certified Public Accountants and spent about 15 years there, first working in chapters but then found my strength was content development. I loved working with volunteer committees to develop unique content to offer at conferences and identifying new speakers to deliver online learning programs.
Tell us about the Day in the Life of Jackie Asekhauno. My day starts with gathering the troops (okay, just my son, Liam, and my dog, Ginger) and heading out the door for drop-offs. While elementary school carpool starts early, Ginger gets dropped off at daycare first. That’s right, my dog goes to daycare most days. She’s a high-energy dog and has destroyed too many blinds so daycare has saved our relationship.
After carpool, I start my day at SMPS in my home office. Working from home was tough as first, but even as an extrovert I’ve been able to adjust to the new normal. I force myself to get outside to go on a walk or sit outside to eat lunch because otherwise I can get “in the zone” and never get up from my desk.
After work, I pick up my son from his grandmother’s house who lives a few blocks away then grab Ginger from daycare and head home. Fortunately, my son’s school has a no-homework policy, so I get to enjoy my evenings hanging out with him. He’s an avid video game player, and I often serve as commentator while he enjoys his hobby for a bit, or we head out to meet friends.
How would you describe your current role at SMPS? As the senior project manager within Learning and Experiences, I coordinate and manage the logistical aspects of several programs and events that SMPS offers, such as Amplify A|E|C, The Pinnacle Experience, and Chapter Leadership Symposium. This means working with committee volunteers, speakers, vendors, and staff to get these events to the finish line. My favorite days are being onsite for the events and seeing everything happen. It’s very rewarding and wonderful to work with such amazing members while witnessing a flawless execution of a year’s worth of preparation.
If you had to choose a few words to describe yourself, what would they be? For right now, they would be: work in progress. I’ve been focusing a lot on self care and mental health the past several years and I couldn’t be prouder of the progress I’ve made.
What’s your guilty pleasure? I’m 100% guilty of binging Netflix shows. If I find myself with time on my hands and don’t occupy my mind, it will race with to-do lists and that’s not how I want to spend my time. My viewing choices run the gamut: from reality cooking shows like The Great British Baking Show, oldies like Seinfeld reruns, Ozark (my favorite!), to documentaries like Our Great National Parks. I’ll pretty much enjoy anything to avoid my chores at home. If anyone is looking for a new show, feel free to hit me up for a recommendation.
Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they? This is a bit of a sore spot with me. I attempted to pick up a hobby recently and chose crocheting. I thought it would not only be relaxing but, ideally, you get a nice keepsake as a result—cool, right? I had no idea how to crochet and watched a few YouTube videos and was struggling, so I found a local yarn supply store that would provide a short series of private lessons. Well, after my three lessons ended, it was determined that I was the first and only student who couldn’t learn to crochet. To be honest, I just wanted to learn how to make a coffee mug coozie.
Where would you travel next if you didn’t have to worry about time or money? I would love to go on a guided African safari with my son. My son has always been an animal lover and being able to experience the national wildlife preserves in Kenya has always been a dream of ours.