Faces of BIIN: Mollie Fitzpatrick
Faces of BIIN: Mollie Fitzpatrick
If you moved across the country to a new town, how would you find like-minded people? What if meeting folks through work was not an option, since the organization you worked for operated entirely remotely? And what if a global pandemic made it even more difficult to safely meet people in your new community?
These questions were not hypothetical, but very real for Mollie Fitzpatrick, when she and her husband Caleb moved to the Bryan/College Station area in August of 2020. Mollie had grown up near Louisville, Kentucky, attended college in Virginia, and begun her career in marketing, employed by a small agency that worked with non-profits in Nashville, Tennessee. She then switched to a new role, as creative director at a marketing agency that works with e-commerce brands and operates remotely – long before the pandemic made this more common. In 2020, shortly after Mollie and Caleb were married, he got a new job as a coach for an intensive youth hockey program located in College Station. And so the young couple packed up their belongings and moved to the Brazos Valley, in late summer 2020.
Mollie’s job as creative director was completely mobile. But with Caleb gone long hours at hockey practices and games, what could she do to meet like-minded people and feel more grounded in their new home? This is where BIIN comes in. As Mollie recalled,
Coming from the Midwest to Texas, it felt like culture shock at first. I had come from a very conservative environment in college, and I knew that was part of the environment here. But I wanted to find some more progressive avenues — places where my values aligned and where I would want to spend time doing things outside of work. I knew it would be tough to meet new people in the midst of a pandemic, but by looking for volunteer opportunities, I thought I would at least start to feel more connected to the community. And that’s how I found BIIN online.
After filling out a volunteer application, Mollie reached out to Director Jaimi Washburn, and soon met with her and staffer Janet Morford via Zoom. Even though BIIN had not identified a need for a volunteer in marketing, Mollie suspected that her skills might be useful. In the fall of 2020, as BIIN worked to keep operations and programs going remotely, Jaimi and Janet were supervising two marketing interns. Seeing Mollie’s skills and interests, they were eager to get her involved. As Jaimi explained:
I don’t really know how to use social media, so when I learned that Mollie was a professional marketer, I jumped at the opportunity to get her guidance. She has been meeting with me and the marketing interns weekly for over a year. She gives us great feedback, has terrific ideas, and is willing and very capable of doing anything we need. For example, she redesigned BIIN’s brochure and business cards to have a more professional look. She has created several short promotional videos that we would have never been able to do without her.
No casual volunteer, Mollie has effectively led the marketing team since January 2021, and plays a crucial role in training and mentoring the interns assigned to it. From the start, she has engaged them in strengthening BIIN’s messaging on social media. As she recalled,
We asked ourselves, “What should BIIN be doing on social media that we were not doing?” At that point, there was a lot of donation messaging going out, but not enough storytelling. We realized that we needed a better balance. So we set ourselves a new goal of two content-related posts per week: one sharing client stories and the other one providing an update on current events or a local resource.
Mollie has worked with the interns to invigorate BIIN’s social media presence in other ways as well. They created a series dubbed “BIINtern Takeovers,” featuring short videos with glimpses into a day in the life of a BIIN intern. They expanded the reach of BIIN’s posts by translating content and key parts of BIIN’s profile into Spanish. In this, the help of fully bilingual marketing interns Yovanka Gonzalez and Leslie Gonzalez has been crucial. The team also worked to amplify BIIN’s position as an organization that provides reliable and helpful information related to the COVID pandemic: “When people see BIIN’s name next to these announcements, it helps them know who we are and what we stand for,” affirmed Mollie.
BIIN’s responses to the inequities revealed by the pandemic were, in fact, part of what drew Mollie Fitzpatrick to the organization in the first place. As she says,
After that first conversation, I knew that this organization was special. I could see that in how hard the pandemic had impacted immigrants, and how few resources were available and accessible to people whose first language is not English. I also saw how much BIIN was doing to bridge the gap, with the BIIN CARES Fund, by translating and providing information about other resources to people in the community. I am really excited to help tell BIIN’s story!
Mollie appreciates the spirit of teamwork that prevails among BIIN staff and interns, even as they work remotely. “I enjoy being creative: problem solving and thinking through how we can better tell BIIN’s stories to the community,” she explained. “I also love working with the interns — when it comes to answering their questions, leading brainstorms, helping them come up with new ideas, or figuring out how to implement their ideas. Many of them have been part of the B/CS community longer than I have, and they know how to connect with students their age.”
Several of those who have worked with Mollie were also eager to point out all that they have learned from her. Molly Robbins, a 2021 TAMU graduate who now works in marketing for a tech start-up, said that working with Mollie helped her realize that she “really enjoys creating new content and being a resource to [her] community.”
Leslie Gonzalez, Fall 2021 marketing intern, praised Mollie’s “vast understanding of social media” as well as her “willingness to share her knowledge with the people around her. She really takes time to listen to our questions and concerns, and to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
For Director Jaimi Washburn, it is this combination of professional skill, initiative and the ability to coach others that makes Mollie Fitzpatrick a remarkable volunteer:
Mollie can professionally create anything and has a terrific eye for design. She spends a lot of time behind the scenes creating graphics, making videos, cutting videos, designing marketing material, and making radio spots. After the BIIN office moved, people were having trouble finding it. Mollie thought a video would be helpful and volunteered to make it. It was a brilliant idea! I also really love working with her. She is so fun, bubbly, patient, and kind. Her enthusiasm and smile are contagious.
After witnessing her skills and commitment to the organization, Jaimi asked Mollie if she would consider serving on BIIN’s board of directors. Along with other new members, Mollie was elected and began serving on the board in September 2021, at the same time as she continues to meet, week after week, with the marketing team.
Mollie Fitzpatrick has now lived in the Brazos Valley for more than a year and has gradually built a circle of local connections, in part by becoming deeply involved in BIIN’s work. From this vantage point, she feels more at home in the B/CS area, and also all the more convinced of the importance of BIIN’s mission. As she explained,
I wish that more people understood how vital immigrants are to everything that is B/CS, and saw how they could welcome immigrants as neighbors. I wish that more people knew about BIIN and what it does in the community. I want people to know how much BIIN does, especially for an organization with such a small staff and a small budget — to know that it does so much with volunteers. I also really want to help raise more awareness of immigrants in our midst. Ultimately, it’s about making time and space to listen to someone: what led them to move here, what struggles and triumphs they have faced. I want people to stop scrolling and just read this person’s story for five minutes, and think about it.
Thank you, Mollie, for all that you have done to increase this awareness and to bring the message of BIIN’s work and impact to broader audiences. We are so fortunate that you moved to central Texas, that you found BIIN, and that you have chosen to share your many talents and generous spirit with all of us. We are so grateful to have you on board!