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Meet Morgan Sweet, a parent’s biggest advocate

Design with a headshot of Morgan which reads: "Kin+ Morgan Sweet"

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

Kin+ is a series that uncovers the experiences, stories and lives of the people who make our collective “Kin” exceptional.

At Kin + Carta we commit to continuous evolution in how we’re creating a best place to work. And, we believe that our collective Kin being a part of this work makes it all the more better. 

Curious to know what that looks like in-action? Meet Morgan Sweet, one of our Chicago-based Kin. Morgan got her start in UX Design with Kin + Carta, and in her career she’s had the opportunity to work with clients in the financial and agriculture industries. It was after Morgan became a mom that she drove meaningful evolution for Kin + Carta’s parental benefits. Now she’s a leader of our parent’s affinity group and as a UX Design Strategist she works to ensure what we are building for our clients meets their business goals, all while focusing on the best user experience.

We are honored to share with you some of Morgan’s story. You’ll be inspired by the incredible evolution she’s driven across Kin + Carta.

Design with a headshot of Morgan which reads: "Kin+ Morgan Sweet"
Photo by Jess with Our Days Photo and Film

Family is very important to me. I’ve been married to my husband, Chris, for eight years now. I’m a mom of two fur babies — the cutest little french bulldogs, Lido and Dex, who are the biggest troublemakers around. And I have two human babies — my daughters Esti, who is four and a half, and Sia, who is one and a half. 

Esti and Sia are amazing, and they’ve each taught me something different. Esti is equal parts clever, silly and sweet. She has extreme dedication to anything she puts her mind to. She does yoga at school and each Wednesday when she comes home she spends the whole evening trying to perfect the pose she learned that day. From her, I remain reminded to try new things. Sia is our fearless, funny little one. She has taught me to not take life too seriously, and to push myself to try new challenges, even when by society’s standards I might not be ‘big enough’. She’s only one and a half, yet she can keep up with her big sister as she confidently jumps into every new challenge in front of her.

I am proud to have my own individual identity, but it’s my family — and more specifically, Esti and Sia — who have shaped me into who I am right now, and I love that so much.

Esti and Sia smiling to the camera at a park
Esti and Sia, after a day with family at the park!

Being a parent has made me a better friend, partner, and human, and it has stretched me in more ways than I could have even imagined. Overall, parenthood has taught me patience. And it has also taught me to give people - like my team - the space to grow into themselves as a designer, as a leader, as a consultant.  It’s okay if they don’t follow in my exact footsteps, rather I’ve learned to provide enough coaching to guide them down a great path that’s right for them. This is the same mentality I use in how I approach parenting — letting my girls grow into their own people, with their own journeys.

Esti and Sia smiling at a public place
Esti and Sia posing together for a picture.

It was through Esti being born and my experience of becoming a mom that I became impassioned to advocate for parents across Kin + Carta. At the time, in the US our parental leave offerings were pretty limited — we were given six weeks of paid maternity leave and three weeks of paternity leave. This made sense for where we were as a company as many people didn’t have children, but our people were growing up, and it was becoming time to reevaluate our policies. So myself alongside my friend and sidekick, Alyssa Mikev, began the quest and we started internally. We asked a bunch of folks what they would want to see change within Kin + Carta’s parental offerings. Leave time was a consistent topic, and it was something we definitely knew we needed to expand to make sure that our policies evolved to best fit the expectations of our employees. Alyssa and I created a pitch and took it to our leadership team. It was amazing to see how open they were to our ideas. Instantly, the firm doubled our maternity and paternity leave from six and three weeks to twelve and six weeks. 

We knew, however, that there was more work to be done. Since then, an affinity group was formed to continue advocating for parents at Kin + Carta. Now, in the US, we have provided equal paid time off for all parents, no matter one’s path to parenthood. This has made the parental leave policy more inclusive, which has been a rewarding and exciting policy change to be a part of.

As a collective parent’s affinity group, we also focus beyond policy work. Recently, we hosted a global workshop which served as a big brainstorming session for all parents to get involved. We spent the time talking about the expectations we have from Kin + Carta and ideating what future events we could bring to life to cultivate stronger community. This was one of those great opportunities to hear creative, new ideas from people all across the organization. It reinvigorated me in so many ways.

Morgan with Esti and Sia in a park
Photo by Jess with Our Days Photo and Film

Becoming a parent changes so many things about your life, and becoming a new parent at Kin + Carta, for me, was extra special. Not only have I been able to contribute to work that’s impacting all parents across the firm, I’ve also just seen how my daughters have become an extension of who I am at Kin + Carta. I remember the first Halloween event that our social committee had planned that I was able to bring Esti to. This annual in-office tradition invited families and kids to dress up and trick-or-treat around our Chicago office. Chris brought Esti into our office, dressed as Amelia Earhart. It was so fun that day seeing my friends and my coworkers take her in and show her around. Later that year, at our holiday party, Esti actually won an award for being “Best Dressed”. This made my night! I had never won an award at a holiday party before, but the fact that my daughter received one was just the coolest thing. This reminded me of just how great the people of Kin + Carta are. They love my kids just as much, if not more(!), than they love me, and that’s been wonderful to see across the company.

Morgans daughter dressed as Amelia Earhart with her two french bulldogs Lido and Dex
Esti dressed as Amelia Earhart with her trusty planes — Lido & Dex.

Seeing Kin + Carta’s parental benefits and support systems evolve throughout my time here has been rewarding. It’s been amazing to see how receptive people are for advocating for change. That first conversation we had where we took ideas to leadership, just went so well. I loved to see just how open they were to hear from our Kin and to better understand what could be done to be the best workplace for all.

Some of my current favorite parental benefits offered in the US include:

  • Equal time off of 12 paid weeks for all parents. Our new, inclusive policy is great for all parents, no matter their path to parenthood.
  • Flexible, or unlimited, PTO. This isn’t necessarily a benefit focused on parents, but it does allow you to take the PTO you need, when you need it. This has been a huge help for various spurts of time off needed during school closures lately. My family has been through multiple quarantines, so this is one benefit I’ve definitely relied on. 
  • Office spaces with a devoted space for chest-feeding parents. For the Chicago office, in particular, we have a wonderful group of people who ensure that the lactation room is stocked with water and snacks. I often even utilized the device chargers that were made available to me there, because, of course, your device is always sure to run out of charge at the most inappropriate time. 
  • Social and affinity group slack channels to informally connect with one another. We often share cute pictures of our kids, funny stories, or even ask for advice. One of the best things about these virtual connections is that our channels are global. This means I’ve been able to chat with parents, no matter how close or far apart they are from me. We’re all experiencing the same things, together, at some point so I love this opportunity for connection.

We’ll always be able to do better, but the progress we’ve made so far has been incredible and I’m excited to see how we continue to grow.

Esti hugging Sia on a couch while smiling
Photo by Jess with Our Days Photo and Film

Now, I’ll be honest here — working from home and being a working parent right now has been a challenge. But I will say that over the past few years I’ve learned to give myself grace. During the days where I have my kids home I proactively add in some flexibility to my schedule. My kids need attention, and in those moments I need to shift my priority to them. My clients and my team have been supportive with this, which makes me feel very fortunate. The flexible time off policy at Kin + Carta has allowed me to take additional time off in these tough situations — even a few hours here and there has been helpful throughout the day to make sure I’m appropriately focusing on being a parent and also working. And I’m still learning, every day, how to best do this. 

We’re kind of living in the impossible right now. Nobody is expected, and nobody was designed, to be able to balance it all. For any parents out there, I’d remind you to give yourself grace! Being a parent is challenging. We weren’t designed to balance it all so you need to find what priorities make you the happiest and what makes you feel the best at the end of each day. And if you find yourself with the energy and the ability to advocate for improvements, take the chance. That’s the best you can do.

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