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Meet Kerrigan Baron, finding joy in technology while bringing a true self at work

A headshot of Kerrigan with a design that reads: Kin+ Kerrigan Baron

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.

While finding the right company and role does involve considering your skills and responsibilities, it's equally important to find a community where you can flourish and be your authentic self at work. For Kerrigan Baron, they’ve found all of that and more at Kin + Carta. Beyond cultivating a supportive environment for their team and pushing for excellence with clients as Senior Technical Director, MACH and Composable Technologies, Kerrigan is an active member of Kin + Carta’s Pride+ affinity group.

The group operates under the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness (IDEA) program, and focuses on making Kin + Carta more inclusive for all, which includes new policies like Transitioning at Work. Kerrigan is driving real change for clients, employees and communities. Learn more about their experiences below.

Kerrigan on stage
Kerrigan speaking at Contentful Storylines

I was born and raised in rural North Carolina, and while I loved many things there, I encountered a significant amount of racial and gender discrimination. I desperately wanted to move to somewhere more accepting, and college was the perfect opportunity to do so. Upon turning 18 I moved to Atlanta to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology. I loved my time there and remember it fondly as the place and time when I fully came out.

After ten years, I moved to Boston because I was eager to try something new and to live in a northern city. It was there where I met my wife, and together we found our way to where we live now — Northampton. I love our little community, as we are surrounded by the Berkshires, the Connecticut River and a beautiful valley. And over the past few years Northampton has become a vibrant queer community. We recently had Pride kick-off after everything took a pause over the last few years. For Pride, they shut down the entirety of Main Street and have installed a permanent rainbow crosswalk. It’s in Northampton where I’ve found a place where I want to thrive. Recently, this safety encouraged and enabled us to become foster parents.

Kerrigan and their wife celebrating Pride
Kerrigan and their wife celebrating Pride

It’s funny to remember how I got into technology. How it started? Well, I had always wanted to be an astronaut, but nobody tells you how to become one. So, I thought it through and decided that I would go to Georgia Tech, study aerospace engineering, apply for NASA, and shortly after become an astronaut. It’s as simple as that, right?

Not really! I went through most of the way through my aerospace engineering degree, but then I realized that my chances of becoming an astronaut could be hindered by my asthma. This was a really sad realization, as I didn’t see myself sitting at a desk doing calculations for the rest of my life. To figure out what to do next, I thought back to what brought me joy, and for me, that was computers. When living in rural North Carolina, it was computers that were my only access to the outside world. Through computers I found wonderful rainbow people, different cultures, and things I had never seen anywhere else. I followed this joy and went on to get my certification in information technology management, jumped right into SEO, and later started working with CMS implementations.

Through computers I found wonderful rainbow people, different cultures, and things I had never seen anywhere else.

I wanted to work in headless CMS technology, specifically in MACH — an acronym for microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native and headless. It's a development technique and technology set that allows for flexibility, scalability, and future proofing. Upon searching for opportunities, Kin + Carta appeared, and it’s now been two years since I joined the team. It’s here that I’ve found a company that gives me the opportunity to work within MACH, flexing my skills on this emerging technology, while also supporting me as I build and grow alongside supportive and collaborative teammates. The way my fellow Kin work together is amazing. I’d best describe it as transparent, loving, and caring.

Kerrigan and the Kin + Carta team
Kerrigan and the Kin + Carta team

The mindset of everybody at Kin + Carta is to do their best in every way. And by doing so, they bring a very true and honest self to work. It's not something where I'm only doing the work asked of me. Rather, I’m always in a consulting mindset, doing what’s best for my clients while also questioning, “Is this the best long-term option? Does this make sense? Is there a better way?"

I see this come to life on projects all the time. Most recently, we worked on a technical strategy and road mapping project for an international veterinary clinic. They had lots of options and paths for a three-year project, and every single person who touched the project came to the table with a different viewpoint on which path was best. However what was consistent was that every team member kept us on track to question and finally align on how we can execute better for our client. This mindset permeates all of our projects.

Kerrigan with some puppies
Kerrigan creating empathy through puppy snuggles for their recent client

One of the most important areas I focus on in my role is making sure everybody feels safe and that they can communicate while on the project. The team is not set up with me dictating what we do. It’s also not set up so that team members are worried about what they can say, do, or ask. Rather, if I'm doing it right, everybody's voice is equally heard.

I see this same mentality across the culture of Kin + Carta. One of the things I most love is the affinity groups, especially Pride+. Being involved with this group has been so core to my experience, as on my first day I remember joining the group after only being a part of our company for a few hours. Since that day in that group I have found an incredible community, filled with very supportive and caring Kin focused on action.

We’ve enacted a lot of changes that can be seen through new policies. It's not from marketing coming down. It's from our group coming up, and working with marketing. And we are vocal, both inwards and outwards. Nothing is just one way across our company. That's what I think is important and the differentiator here. There must be real effort put toward the community. It can’t be about the perception of pride. It must be about the people of pride.

Nothing is just one way across our company. That's what I think is important and the differentiator here. There must be real effort put toward the community.

As somebody who's nonbinary transmasc, I'm so proud of the Transitioning at Work policy, which many members of the LGBTQIA+ community worked incredibly hard on. It's a policy to help give guidance and a path forward. Everything you need is there, because by the time you're transitioning at work, you've already done many transitions in terms of self-discovery, understanding, and social transitions. This guideline is meant to show dignity and respect to those going through so much at once.

The policy doesn’t simply tell people to go talk to Employee Experience. Instead it describes how you speak to people, what your protections are, and what your safety net is. It also reinforces the fact that you deserve respect throughout the entire process. It's a tool for anybody who is experiencing the difficulty of trying to transition and be themselves authentically at work.

We’re also having Kin + Carta-wide discussions, and there’s plenty of education going on. Last year I gave a whole discussion about anti-trans laws. Just a year later, those bills have increased exponentially to over 500. At the time, the anti-trans laws were something our Kin hadn't heard much about. But because we had those discussions, our teams are more knowledgeable about the situation.

Now our big focus is around Strength in Solidarity, meaning that we achieve harmony through education and by pushing forward together. Everything that we’ve said as a company around wanting to support our trans siblings, changing our logo to the trans flag, and hosting discussions around anti-trans laws all came from the Pride+ affinity group with the intention of bringing us all together in solidarity.

Because I’m so passionate about creating safe communities, I also run a YouTube channel called DaintyTank. It's an LGBTQIA+ gaming channel, and it's geared towards others within our community who want to find someone who is from the community to just talk and play gay trans inclusionary games together. It’s a small channel, but it matters because I get comments saying ‘Thank you for this’, ‘I needed to hear this today’, or ‘I'm glad you said that it was okay for me to be this way’.

Now our big focus is around Strength in Solidarity, meaning that we achieve harmony through education and by pushing forward together.

There is not an exact moment that made me, me. There's just every moment that’s made me, me. Every piece, every part from the world. From North Carolina and the discrimination I faced there, through to making the space to find out who I am in Atlanta. It’s all been a journey of finding out who I want to be and defining who I want in my community. All of these pieces, every single moment, has been an experience that’s led me to today.

And that's the piece — that’s what’s most important to me. There's no exact moment. I’m never going to be finished until I'm in the grave. I am a beautiful and wonderful experience.

Want to work alongside individuals, like Kerrigan, who value creating a safer world?

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