Denice Mitchell is the latest addition to Team Torsh, joining the company this summer as our newest Manager of Business Development. Denice brings with her a wealth of experience in the education sector. A native of Lake Mary, Florida (outside of Orlando), she has called New Orleans home for nearly ten years. Denice has been very busy these last few weeks learning the ins and outs of TALENT, our teacher professional development platform, and chasing new business leads. Despite her hectic schedule, we were able to catch up with her to ask her a few questions.
Welcome, Denice! We are so happy to have you onboard. I am curious...How did you learn about this opportunity at Torsh?
I saw the job description posted on LinkedIn. And then a person familiar with the company reached out to me, and put me in touch with James Jackson, a fellow Teach for America alum and Manager of Business Development at Torsh. The timing was ideal. I had been at my former organization for five years and was contemplating a transition.
Once you learned more about the role, what convinced you that this company and this role would be a good fit for you?
I’ve spent over a decade working in education -- as a teacher, instructional coach, director at an educational nonprofit and then in fundraising and development for that same nonprofit. I wanted to gain business sector experience and work in a new field, while maintaining a professional connection to social innovation, education and community outreach. Torsh was the perfect fit because I'm working in a new space for me -- tech and sales -- but I am able to apply my experience both as a fundraiser and an educator.
Considering your background in education, would you say that Torsh’s overarching mission to improve student outcomes was a factor in your decision to join the company?
Absolutely. That’s a mission that really resonates with me as an educator, Teach for America alum, and former director of an AmeriCorps program. What I'm doing now is "sales for good" basically. I'm still supporting the development of students and teachers, but in a different way than I was when I was teaching or doing direct services or doing development within the nonprofit world.
I know it’s only been a few weeks, but what do you like about Torsh thus far?
I like Torsh’s "startup" feel, the growing team, and how how we are constantly learning and changing. Also, I like how inclusive the atmosphere is here. Our CEO (Courtney Williams) has an awesome vision for how we can continue to evolve our services and the company. In my short time here, I've witnessed how creative and agile Torsh is, especially in how we respond to the needs of our customers. So far I’ve sat through three development meetings and I can literally see how we put client needs at the center of our updates.
What are your initial thoughts on TALENT?
TALENT really stood out to me as a great product -- a powerful tool that can help teachers improve their practice and in turn, make them better for their kids. I wish I had TALENT back in my teaching or coaching days! So, I truly believe in what I'm selling and how this technology can enhance educational experiences and outcomes.
You grew up in Florida and went to college at Spelman in Atlanta. So what brought you to New Orleans?
I’m a Florida native but I’ve always been attracted to NOLA. My grandfather is from here. It was a big part of my mother's upbringing, and I visited a few times when I was in college. My senior year at Spelman, after conversations with a Teach for America recruiter, I knew I wanted to work in education. I intended to move to Washington DC or New York City. At the time, NOLA was emerging as a center for education reform. And it's such a unique and fun city to live in, especially fresh out of college! I made NOLA my first choice and got placed here. The rest is history and I've lived here for nearly a decade.
What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE to travel -- both domestically and internationally. I genuinely enjoy creating experiences, experiencing a cultural exchange, and seeing what's similar and different about the places I visit. My family is really important to me and none of them live in NOLA, so I frequently go to New York, Atlanta and Florida to visit them. I have three nephews --15 years old, 12 years old and 15 months. They are the coolest kids on the planet and I like to spend time with them when I can. I just got back from a trip to the Caribbean with 18 family members!
When you aren’t jumping on a plane or taking a road trip, how do you keep busy here in town?
I like playing tourist in my own city. Living in NOLA, I'm also never short of visitors whether it's for Mardi Gras, Essence Festival or any time of year. NOLA has so many restaurants and events that I've either still not been to, or that I like to frequent annually. My friends and I like getting together to go to events and festivals and trying out new "foodie" spots. Coolinary New Orleans and Restaurant Week are highlights of my year. Also, I love music. I go to concerts often and like to sing (occasionally in public -- I’ve even sang at a few weddings before!)
Do you see yourself staying in NOLA for the long run?
I'm a NOLA transplant and like to think that I've evolved into a local over time (always a topic of debate amongst other transplants and natives!) I've thought about moving before, but I just can't. I travel pretty often and still feel like there's nowhere like NOLA in the world. I've settled down here, have a great network of "framily" (friends who are like family) and have truly have made it my home.