Freelancer of the Year Finalists
Denise is an agile worker who builds relationships and has helped build brands over the last 10 years. She consistently gives 100% of herself to her work. Denise has a passion for team-building and skill-sharing that extends into everything she does. She openly shares her time and bridges connections between teams that might not regularly collaborate otherwise. Her tremendous knowledge of the media landscape provides a strong foundation for tactical and strategic decisions. Above all, Denise has been named an amazing teammate and a positive influence on everyone she comes in contact with.
Stephanie is an independent marketer and businesswoman who has solidified herself in the Houston-area sports industry as a go-to for all things publicity, marketing, PR and charitable foundation development. Even throughout the pandemic, she maintained stable business relationships and was able to grow her business outside of her incredibly impressive sports network. Not only has she worked with regional charities, she, along with her family, have created The Belton Foundation. The goal of their foundation is two-fold. They focus on education by providing thousands of dollars worth of college scholarships each year. Additionally, they give back to other charities whose focus is on cancer awareness. She is currently expanding her client list to some incredible up-and-coming brands. Regardless of the client or business need, Stephanie’s life’s work always includes a mission to help others.
The last year for Erica has been a test of patience, resilience and self-confidence. She is attracted to potential and gives (nearly) her all to going above and beyond. She is ambitious and highly motivated, and that has been both an opportunity and a challenge for her. She comes in with determination and drive, and her persistence becomes a tool to get $#!T done. Her aforementioned “attraction to potential” led her to a notoriously challenging company; she decided it was best to “date before getting married” to another company for fear of another burn. And so she updated her website, created some capabilities materials, and relied on one of her greatest strengths — relationship-building and networking. Since then she’s been able to dust off some old skills, has learned some new ones, tried her hand at launching a new business, joined networking organizations, and was featured in a couple of industry media outlets as an “entrepreneur.” While all of this was happening, she was also able to take a step back and really hone in on where she wanted her career to go.
Amy is an incredible writer. After years in corporate marketing, a relocation for her husband’s job combined with the arrival of her first child nudged her to break into freelancing (before freelancing was mainstream.. circa 2007!). She quickly built a portfolio of clients who adored her and depended on her for the amazing writing that she provided. She grew her portfolio and continued to run a very successful business. In 2018, Amy joined We Are Rosie and became one of the first Rosies! She is now taking junior Rosies under her wing on her current project with one of We Are Rosie’s big computer software clients.
Germaine is a global networking event pioneer and recognized 3x by BizBash Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards amongst the top event producers worldwide. He has hosted business networking events in over 40 major cities in 4 countries, and used the events to market positivity and people coming together worldwide. He is the author of “The 40 Laws of Networking”, which is the largest global collaboration on any book in publishing history, with entrepreneurs, multimillionaires, serial networkers, government leaders and business professionals in 130 countries as contributors. He also authored “50 Seeds of Greatness”, where contributors in 106 countries joined him. He continues to use his global platform as an entrepreneur, event producer, and author to unite humanity to create a better world for all. He has been able to assist thousands of professionals with visibility, marketing materials and advice, and opportunities to create their personal brands and advance their professional careers.
Shandice had the honor of sharing her story on the We Are Rosie website last year and feels like this is her full-circle moment. Every word she wrote back then truly embodies why she applied for the Liberation Award. She has named We Are Rosie a special part of her independent journey, where she has also met one of her best friends, and is continuing to learn and grow as an individual.
Tasha is a (mostly) recovered workaholic. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Tasha learned there is more to life than work. Although, she sometimes still forgot this lesson. There was the stress-induced insomnia when she worked at the Embassy of Afghanistan that landed her in the psych ward. And the regular 10-12 hour days when she worked at a top-three global ad agency. Freelancing was Tasha’s path to liberation. Dreaming of being a digital nomad, Tasha quit her job in 2019 to travel the world while starting her own branding and marketing strategy consulting business, Duraca Strategic. After some literal and figurative bumps in the road, Tasha replaced her corporate salary within four months (you can read about it in Insider). She now makes six figures working less than half the hours of a traditional 9-to-5 job. Tasha did all this while traveling through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Germany – oh, and a US cross-country road trip. Three years and one pandemic later, Tasha has her motorcycle and scuba licenses, has learned to surf, and has had so many firsts: deep-water soloing in Vietnam, swimming with sharks in Hawaii, and hiking a volcano in Indonesia. She even launched a side project, Duraca Travels, to help others gain the confidence to pack up their laptop and see the world. This year she had her first press trip and got her first byline in Travel + Leisure!
Ashlee is grateful every single day that freelancing on the side has now turned into running her own business. Independent marketing allowed Ashlee to be with her husband in Senegal while waiting for his green card before returning to the US — while also balancing her diagnosis of diabetes with her pregnancy. She’s now able to run her business full-time AND be present with her babygirl. She’s so thankful she doesn’t have to sacrifice caring for her health and household while still impacting and contributing to meaningful work. Her life isn’t perfect, but it’s exactly the life she wants and she is perpetually grateful that the balance is hers to find on her own terms and schedule.
Amelia is a strategist-innovator, a writer-photographer-linguist, and a career-and-life-chameleon. She is many talents in one human. Amelia has been an “independent” even while serving in more traditional roles during her career. Her Italian roots make her what some call a “Renaissance woman”: equally well-versed in ancient Greek and Eastern philosophy, as in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She has delivered as a consultant at corporations and more recently in academia at Emory, where she co-founded the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Within the Atlanta (and Southeast!) ecosystem, Amelia is well-known for being a “node” of connections among multiple sectors and silos, creating an invisible network and opening doors for corporate intrapreneurs and under-represented founders alike. Through this, she facilitates cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration across multi-disciplinary projects. Her dedication expands to a wider network than her immediate sphere of work as she loves helping people in different places cross bridges! From building an innovation practice ground-up at Accenture to launching a center for entrepreneurship at Emory University, starting something-from-nothing is her mode: and that is where her “multi-hyphenate” skills are tantamount: from visioning-strategizing-
Passion is Christina’s superpower in everything she does, and 2022 has been the year of focus for Christina in all of the multifaceted things she cares about. To name a few:
- She teaches digital marketing to universities and also works in digital marketing specializing in resuscitation quality improvement education for hospitals and healthcare systems with the American Heart Association.
- Acting! She’s appeared in various commercials, podcasts, livestreams, and feature films throughout the year.
- Certifications! This year she pursued and received her account-based marketing and Pardot certifications, all remote while working from home.
- She began working with one of her dream clients, TED, by crafting copy and wireframes.
- She decided she wanted to be a pianist and began taking piano lessons.
- She completed a triathlon.
Rodney has finally found his liberation, so to speak. In a career that has spanned over 30 years, Rod has been a founder, journalist, publisher, author, TV writer/researcher, professor, and even a personal trainer. But after hustling and reinventing himself half a dozen times, Rod had found frustration in the on-going cycle of feast or famine. Even though his last 10 years were primarily focused in the healthcare sector, the industry’s pandemic-induced pivot dried up many of his long-term clients. He was ready for a change. We Are Rosie was that change. Now writing for Big Tech, Rod is thriving as a contractor. In just a few months, he has already had one of his headlines featured on a premier product homepage. His multi-hyphenate days likely aren’t over though. Since moving to the mountains of North Carolina in late 2021, he has been dreaming of owning a letterpress and setting up shop in his basement. And there’s a half-written children’s book in his desk drawer that he’s determined to finish.
Kaytee is not only an independent marketer on a flexible talent team, but she’s also:
- A mom of two kids (ages 4 and 7)
- A skilled and seasoned art director
- A spin instructor
- A yogi
- AND she still is able to pursue other entrepreneurial endeavors that combine her love of creativity and fitness.
Kaytee is used to bringing an incredible number of solutions to every creative challenge she faces. It’s a part of her very nature to always ask “what else can we do?” and “how else can we approach this creative conundrum?” while going above and beyond to offer creative problem-solving that sparks conversation and moves her client’s business forward. It’s no surprise that this multi-solution-oriented woman is loved equally by her clients and her fellow Rosies. Because she is so open to new ideas and is willing to try them, she’s made a huge impact on every single thing she touches. People just love working with her. PERIOD.
Kasia has spent this year navigating how to replace her full-time income. She’s pivoted many times and finally landed on a freelance business model that works for her. She runs a company named Narrative where she helps SaaS startups create content that helps them rank in Google and increase their customers (without spending a ton of money). She finds this work extremely rewarding. Pivoting has gotten her to where she is today and she’s finally making the impact she wanted to.
Jocelyn spent seven years working with Chick-fil-A, as a full-time consultant via annual contracts. But when the COVID-19 lockdown hit, what had been reliable and stable work was suddenly gone. Jocelyn was left to consider other options. She filled the gap by taking on freelance project-based work as well as long-term part-time contracts, including with We Are Rosie. But the transition wasn’t always easy or comfortable. More by necessity than choice, Jocelyn forged ahead. She took on new projects and launched her business, Jocelyn Designs. Along the way, she discovered two keys to thriving independently in an unpredictable economy: embracing diversity of projects and developing flexibility as a personal strength. Still, income stability is only one of the benefits Jocelyn has found in her new approach to independent working. “I’ve learned to pivot more quickly and easily than when I was in a full-time contract role,” she says. “It’s given me the opportunity to show up in different ways for different clients and do certain types of work I didn’t previously have access to.”
Cathy is a first-generation American on both sides. Her dad was a Polish refugee and her mom was a Swiss immigrant, both uneducated going back generations and part of the migration after World War II. They met on a blind date in Hollywood, at the Moulin Rouge club on Sunset Blvd. For decades, Cathy was scared of her own shadow and ashamed of her own story. She spent the early 90’s working as a Casting Director in the upper echelons of network TV. Some of her credits include Frasier, Arrested Development, According to Jim, and many other shows and pilots on NBC, CBS, ABC, The CW, and Fox. She also served as NBC’s Manager of Casting, overseeing many pilots including “The Office,” and holds a degree in theatre arts from UCLA, where she graduated magna cum laude (in 4 years!). What a pivot from that bashful little one at the beginning of her story!
Jasmine is currently on a We Are Rosie project working with a social media client. She is an amazing project manager that is adept at multitasking organization, learning new skills and being a resource of support, advocacy and expertise for her teammates. Jasmine is always ready to help with her knowledge, kindness and patience. She has made her team’s experience smoother and has allowed space to be vulnerable and learn.
Olivia "Olive" La Estrella
Olivia is a role model of resilience who’s used grit, strength, and self-belief to emerge from hardship and thrive as an independent marketer. In August 2022, when Olive accepted the freelance position through We Are Rosie, they had $5 in their bank account and didn’t know how they were going to pay rent on September 1st. Olive had just experienced a grueling divorce and had taken time off from their marketing career to focus on their mental health which caused financial strain. Thanks to Olive’s resilience, strength, and self-belief, they went from not knowing where their next meal would come from to having all bills on autopay and a nest egg in the bank by October 2022. Because Olive earned their master’s degree in Business Administration in 2019, they knew that it was only a matter of time before their hard work would pay off. Their hard work truly paid off, and Olivia is now thriving as an independent marketer.
Jessica never shies away from talking about how becoming an independent marketer and freelancer has empowered her to change her life after spending over 16 years as a digital marketing professional, mainly in the agency world, where she worked with all kinds of clients, including big brands like McDonald’s. She left behind everything that was no longer serving her and took back her life, her last name, and opted for a change of scenery by relocating. She now has the freedom to work in a way that she wants to. She is incredibly inspiring and a survivor.
Altimese is dedicated and hardworking. She is extremely organized and focused on continuously learning and developing best practices to manage routine activities both efficiently and effectively. She went through a divorce last year, and those around her saw her literally come out as a strong and beautiful woman. She is a mother and an advocate for women to thrive in the best version of themselves as they operate businesses. She is also a strong believer in creating a community free of race, religion, caste, or creed.