Here, Charity Begins On-Site

Who: Lela Usry Severance, general manager and director of business development at
Sign of the Times: “I manage a team of 10 employees, all of whom have different skills and backgrounds than I do.”

What’s so new about the new economy? For one thing, traditional career tracks have pretty much been ripped up. For Lela Usry Severance, 32, general manager and director of business development at, a philanthropy startup, one of the biggest challenges of working in a dotcom environment is creating a cohesive team.

“Our site launched in July, and everyone has been working nonstop,” she says. “I can’t ask the people on my team to create a secure, caring, and thoughtful tool for the rest of the world unless I give them the tools to do so. When employees join, they receive a toolbox that I’ve put together. There’s Krazy Glue to represent the team sticking together and Tylenol for the headaches that we’ll give one another. Each week, I stock the tool kits with something new. The bigger symbolism is that the team is creating a tool-box for people who want to help other people in need.

“The trick to success is emphasizing the passion behind the company. When I hear my tech team discuss what’s happening in East Timor, I get excited.”