The Paideia School

An interview with Amanda Styles ‘96, Senior Solution Architect at Salesforce

Picture of Amanda Styles '96

First off, tell us a little bit about your background. What have you been doing since you graduated from Paideia, and where are you now?

I attended Paideia for my junior and senior years of high school, and even though that’s not a long time, it made a huge impact on me. Afterwards I went to Warren Wilson College near Asheville, NC and majored in Social Work. I also worked in the Development office as part of my work study, which set me up well to become a fundraiser. I worked for several nonprofits in Asheville and Orlando before moving back to Atlanta to work for Paideia back in 2004. I actually worked for Paideia longer than I attended! These days I live in Decatur with my wife, Megan, our 8 year old daughter, Addie, and dog, Grits.

With regards to your work at Salesforce, tell us about what led you to this path.

I had always loved the data side of fundraising - reporting, mail merges, figuring out how to raise more money based on people’s interests and what they had given in the past. Eventually I had the realization that I could focus just on that piece and move to enabling fundraising offices rather than making the asks myself. I was working at Atlanta Legal Aid as the Grants Manager when I first learned about Salesforce, and I requested donated licenses and set it up to track the grants and the capital campaign I was managing. I was hooked. My next role was Database Manager at Literacy Action, and then I became a consultant working with nonprofits.

What do you most enjoy about your time there?

I love that I get to help these national and international nonprofits to raise more money and have more impact. I also love that there is always something new to learn. The technology is growing all the time and I feel like I am constantly learning more about consulting and architecture, especially as a career changer. 

If you could go back in time and give the high-school version of yourself advice, what would it be?

Go ahead and be enthusiastic about the things that excite you. Everyone won’t understand, but it’s better to go deep in the things that you love and that you are good at. When I first got into the Salesforce ecosystem, I made the decision to go all in. I led the Atlanta Nonprofit Community Group. I went to Dreamforce. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to start learning, and I did a lot of Trailhead for training once it came out. It confused people, but it’s totally how I ended up where I am now. I wish I had realized back in high school that I didn’t have to (try to) play it cool.

Any favorite teacher(s) you want to give a thank you or shout out to?

It’s so hard to pick. I would say that Donna Ellwood’s Revolution and Society class has stayed with me and influenced me deeply even now. John Capute also made a huge impact on me - teaching me that I had something original to say and challenging me to really share that in my writing. And Kathy Brown’s AP Chemistry class was where I truly found community as a new student at Paideia, and I’m forever grateful.