Officially, she’s the associate director of information technology and records in the Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement. But “Data Diva” is so much more on point. Since 2012, former dancer and music major Cameryne Kelley has been applying her lithe problem-solving skills to managing one of UNLV’s main communications tools: the UNLV database.
Overseeing a team of four full-time staff, Kelley orchestrates hundreds of requests for customized mail lists, data, and reports each year. If you’ve ever sent out mail or email using the university’s database of more than 200,000 names, addresses, and profiles, you’ve worked with Kelley — directly or indirectly.
It may seem like an unusual place for a music major to end up – Kelley is a lifelong dancer and flautist with a performing arts degree from UCLA. She’s worked in retail, the wireless industry, and at a K-12 school district. She’s been an operations manager, market researcher, and data analyst. But as she moved along her varied career path, she began to see the connection between the way we analyze and understand music, and the way we organize and distribute data.
Now, she still draws upon her passion for seeing the whole production, and her knack for understanding the importance of each step.
Biggest misconception about your job
What most do not realize is that my job is so much more than entering, updating, and maintaining a database.
Our constituent database is utilized by all our staff in the Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, as well as staff across campus who support the work we do. My team maintains information on alumni, friends, and potential friends of the university. Information can include how engaged an alumnus/a was while a student, contributions to scholarships and programs to enhance the education of our students, as well as who volunteers to support UNLV.
Since my area is the hub of information to help support the work of what fundraisers and communicators out in the field do, I need to have a really good understanding of what they are trying to accomplish to be able to provide the tools they need to help them do their job. Not only do I oversee the recording, receipting, and acknowledging of donations to the university, but my role also has a big marketing component. You need data to help drive decisions, but you need to have a concept of what the needs are to gather the data in support of those decisions.
For example, development staff will come to me to talk through a project and ask for guidance on the best way to facilitate it with the use of data from the database.
This is where the consulting piece of my job comes in. Once staff members started to see that there was someone here to help them, the collaboration efforts started to increase. This was one of the front-line sales and marketing skills I had developed from my previous jobs. I think this has made me more successful in what I do today.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you
I am also a baker. I have a family recipe for rugelach, and when I was in Vermont I started my own business making them. I marketed them as “Little Jewels,” and I went to bed and breakfasts and sold them. Once I had an order for 75 dozen!
Best advice you’ve ever received
The phrase “work smarter, not harder.” I really try to go by this. Also, I have this book called QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller. It helped me learn to ask the right questions to figure out exactly what a person needs when they ask for help. It may not be exactly what they said.
What people can do to make your job easier
Two things stand out that are pretty simple. Ask questions and be open when my group or I ask questions. We ask a lot of questions to ensure we are processing the correct information for you, and we want to do right by our donors and constituents as well.
What you thought you’d do when you grew up
As a child I wanted to be dancer or a musician. I was a dancer first. But those can be challenging worlds to make a living, and can be short-lived. Life starts to happen when you get older. I knew I wanted to have a job where I could make a difference and have an impact with the company I worked for.
But I still dance. I teach Zumba! I even led a Zumba class here on campus after work once. Everybody had fun.
Your guilty pleasure
Only when I happen to stumble upon the show, I watch So You Think You Can Dance. I enjoy seeing how the dancers grow throughout the competition.
Your favorite spot on campus
All the green spaces on campus as well as the music building. I love when I hear students outside practicing. It reminds me of my college years. Sometimes I can hear students playing their instruments from my office.
An object in your office and what it represents to you
I do calligraphy and make a calendar every year that incorporates an inspirational phrase with some artwork. I give these out as gifts and the keep the original in my office. It brings the creative side of me into my office. My office is pretty colorful. I have been making these calendars for about 15 years now.