portrait of young woman, employee Shanna Davidson

I love this company,” says human resources administrator Shanna Davidson. Although Shanna has only worked for Applied Development for less than two years, she’s grown from the administrative assistant to the HR administrator. She’s also been on the front lines of what we do here at AD. During this time, she’s also provided non-technical reader services to a low-vision employee at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). She credits her growth in the company to AD’s unique corporate culture, and hopes to continue her professional career growing with Applied Development.

Shanna felt drawn to Applied Development because we are a woman-owned small business. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in American Studies, where her concentrations were Social Justice and Women and Gender Studies. She also participated in a Young Women’s Leadership Program. Seeing a female owner and CEO as a recent college graduate “really impressed and inspired me,” she says.

Starting as an administrative assistant, Shanna credits her growth in the company to the unique corporate culture co-founders Kimberly Citizen and Biffrey Braxton create. “They were eager to hear what I was interested in and what I liked most about the projects I was working on,” she says. “Then, they delegated more tasks to me that were based on those interests.”

Kimberly has shared how much she values growth from within and supporting employees, and Shanna has seen that during her time with AD. Shanna says that both Kimberly and Biffrey take an interest in their employees and want to see them growth. In her case, “They’ve encouraged me to pursue more HR-oriented tasks because of my interest in it, and because of the company’s needs with the current stage in our growth.”

Kimberly knows from personal experience that mentoring and encouragement contribute to professional success, and it pays off for employees too. Shanna says, “I love working for a company that invests so much in their employees, whether that’s the Professional Development Program or mentoring opportunities that Kimberly and Biffrey support.”

Shanna was familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and compliance as part of her social justice studies. But at Applied Development, she’s been able to put that knowledge into practice. During her first year at AD, she worked on a contract to provide non-technical reader services to a low-vision employee at the USDA.

“Working on this contract provided me insight into the need for accessibility as a standard,” she says. At AD, we champion the rights of all individuals to work and communicate effectively. Working with the low-vision employee, she realized how significant our diversability programs can be for an employee. She saw “how many websites are not compatible, how much standard office equipment isn’t compatible, or how there is technology and equipment that is compatible, but it’s not the version that places use.”

Shanna also used her knowledge and skills to go above and beyond the job description to further the employee’s ability to use technology. “As a millennial, I’m pretty tech-savvy,” she says, and was disappointed that the employee couldn’t access all of the features of a smartphone because of a lack of tech accessibility. “When we started working together in November 2017 she was using a flip phone, by December 2018 she was on her second Samsung Galaxy 8 phone,” Shanna says. With Shanna’s guidance, the employee learned ways to update and enter contacts, calendar events, text and call, and download apps.

Although Shanna doesn’t know what her next stage in growth will be, she’s excited for what her future at AD holds. “It was important to me when I was interviewing here to find a company that I could really grow in and put my roots in, and I feel like the leadership mentoring, company culture, and corporate structure at AD have really fostered that,” she says.