She has been working with Joomla since 2005 and started to organize Joomla events in 2009. A proud mama and a proud New Yorker, as she defines herself. We talk about Laura Gordon, and in this interview, we know her a little more.
Thanks for participating in this interview, Laura! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m originally from New York, which I’m proud of, yes, a proud New Yorker! I currently live with my husband and two adult children in East Brunswick, NJ. Our boys are attending college. One attends the University of Connecticut and is studying Material Science Engineering, and the other is a Freshman at the University of Massachusetts in the Business School. I also graduated from UMass Amherst; I’m a proud mama. Currently, I’m pursuing my Masters of Business Science in UXD through the Rutgers MBS Program.
My husband is an accountant, but he spends a lot of his spare time running the only Roller Coaster Teen tour, ThrillCoaster Tours, where he takes kids to amusement parks for the summertime. We have been running this business since 2005. Personally, I love to exercise, go on great Roller Coasters, spend time with my family and friends, and take walks with our dog, Luna, who we adopted in May 2020. She is a true pandemic doggie and does not know how to be alone!
How did you get involved with Joomla and the J! Community?
While being a stay at home mom, I started building websites in 2004; I was introduced to Joomla when I built my first nursery school website for my son’s nursery school/program. That then evolved to building websites for public libraries, synagogues and small businesses. I attended my first JUG meeting in NYC with Mitch Pirtle, Mark Simko and Gary Mort in 2005.
While in New York, I helped to coordinate several JoomlaDayNYC events in 2009, 2010 and 2011. I also started running JoomlaCamp events in 2009 and ran one every year until 2019, as 2020 got cancelled for COVID. I have attended and presented at several Joomla conferences, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this amazing community.
In 2017 I participated in the JET program and attended the Joomla World Conference in Rome, where I passed the Joomla Administrator Exam for Joomla 3. Thus I became a representative and helped to proctor other Joomlers to take their exams as well.
What do you do for a day job, and if this includes Joomla, how?
I currently work for Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, with the School of Arts and Sciences in New Brunswick, NJ. My team and I manage over 120 Joomla websites. Each department in the school has its own Joomla website. We train department representatives to manage the content of their website and constantly improve how the websites work and store information for each department.
Do you use Joomla in other ways?
I use Joomla for most of my website needs, especially for my small private clients, where I still maintain websites for them over the years. I have been teaching Joomla to teens over the past year virtually as well.
Are you involved in the Joomla community, apart from in your official position?
I coordinate the Joomla User Group of NJ, and I just ran JoomlaDayUSA, the first country-wide virtual and the first JoomlaDay for the entire USA. I volunteer on the Educational and Outreach Working Group and the Volunteer and Engagement Team, and the Joomla Events Team.
How did Joomla change your life?
I have always been in development and project management, but I was never formally taught how to build a full website that was more than an ‘informational site’. For my first complex website, I used SOBI2 as a complete directory structure to store information about over 2,300 books in 300 different categories. I couldn’t believe that I was actually able to do this myself, teach a user how to manage it, and create a system that was intuitive and simple to use.
Over time using Joomla has been more than the product itself, but it has given me opportunities to meet developers worldwide. I have found in my career over the past 25 years in Information Technology that you are only as good as the community you are connected with, and none of us can do anything alone. Joomla puts that thought into reality each and every day.
What did you learn and/or gain personally from being a J! Volunteer?
Knowledge and Friendships. I learn every day from others as a volunteer, but more importantly, I have formed friendships that I know will continue over the many years to come. From running my first JoomlaDay NYC event in 2009 (some may remember the ‘tkchokie’ place in NYC), I’m still connecting with people from back then. More recently, I was honored to run JoomlaDay USA, where I was so humbled to see an event that got pulled together from a team of 9 volunteers, a team of 20 speakers, and a team of 15+ sponsors… we were able to run an event that included registration of over 200 people, the largest Joomla event that the USA has ever put together, that by itself gave us all a satisfaction that anything can be done!
Do you have a memorable Joomla-moment?
There are big moments and small ones. Some ‘larger’ fun moments were at Joomla World Conference in Italy, putting together the ‘spaghetti bridge’ or at Joomla Forum for the Future when we all gathered together to take a photo, then the singing karaoke at night after dinner. And the ‘bar nights’ after some of the JoomlaDay events, such as JoomlaDay Florida.
Some of the most important moments were at each event that I have attended when I would sit privately with a fellow Joomler to talk about ‘what can be done with…?’ I treasure the times when I sat with friends such as Marc Dechèvre, Andrea Gentil, Elisa Foltyn, Brian Teeman, Roland Dalmulder, Vic Drover and so many others over the years. More recently these conversations have happened virtually with Patrick Jackson, Benjamin Trenkle, SD Williams and others from our virtual teams. We would just sit, chat about Joomla and chat about the Joomla community. Each time I would be more motivated to do something new, to try something out that I didn’t think of from before.
Lastly, when the JdayUSA Team put together our ‘JoomlaBunch’ video for JDayUSA, we had so much laughter, and trust that what we were doing was going to not only be worthwhile for ourselves but something groundbreaking for the entire community. That team provided a humbling Joomla moment.