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Meet Our New Community Coordinator: Raelyn Couto

Meet Groundwork’s newest Community Coordinator! Raelyn is a New Bedford native with a diverse career background. From navigating personal lines insurance to flourishing in the nonprofit sector’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space, and most recently working as a content & UGC creator and social media strategist, Raelyn brings a unique blend of experiences to our team. We’re thrilled to have her contribute to our community and embark on this new chapter together at Groundwork. Read on to learn more about Raelyn’s past experiences, hobbies, and inspirations.

What led you here? Give us a short summary of your life journey up to this point.

I ended up at Groundwork because I was craving being back in my community. Being a New Bedford native (currently residing in Fairhaven), I love connecting with the people in our city and surrounding areas!

I always say “in a past life,” I worked in personal lines insurance at both agency and corporate levels. After a couple of years in college, I was still unsure of what I wanted to pursue and ended up in insurance. Although insurance was a stable career and something I was good at, I wasn’t passionate about it. I decided to leave the insurance world and become self-employed.

I’ve pivoted a lot throughout my self employment. I started as a social media strategist, helping small businesses and entrepreneurs elevate their social media branding and presence. I then shifted into more overall coaching, helping folks with mindset, confidence, business strategy, social media strategy, and more.

When 2020 hit and the pandemic happened along with the Black Lives Matter movement sparking up following the murder of George Flloyd, my business shifted yet again. Suddenly I became a bigger voice in online spaces, being asked to talk on podcasts, being featured in online articles, etc. I found a passion for the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space and decided this was a career path I wanted to take. 

I ended up joining a local nonprofit as a racial, equity, diversity, and inclusion facilitator. I created and facilitated several workshops, and was able to partner with both large and small organizations in our area. I was quickly promoted to Director of Mission Impact, so along with facilitating, I also oversaw the areas of social justice, health & wellness and advocacy at the organization. The best part of that time was being able to be IN my community. I was able to network and collaborate with so many individuals and organizations. After some time, I started to crave more of a work/life balance, and transitioned into my next role.

I worked remotely as an equity, diversity, inclusion and justice associate consultant for an agency based out of Washington DC. This was a job I was very passionate about, however after my experience in the nonprofit space then moving into this, I started feeling burnt out emotionally. When you work in the DEI space as a marginalized person, you put a lot of your own personal experiences into your work. Although I loved DEI, the emotional labor started to take a toll, but I still stuck it out because I loved my team in the agency. However in March of 2023, the agency I was working at did a massive company-wide lay-off that I was unfortunately part of. (perhaps the universe’s way of telling me I was done?)

After being laid off and with my 30th birthday coming up, I felt lost. I felt like I was starting all over. After spending some time grieving the loss, I decided that I was going to do more things that made me happy. I did (and still do) some DEI work on a contracting basis, so I have the autonomy to say no to things if it feels unaligned for me. I also started doing more work in social media, partnering with big name brands in creating content (I’d love to partner with more local businesses!). I also took advantage of the time to start figuring out what hobbies I enjoy. 

On a whim, I decided to audition for Little Theatre of Fall River’s production Rock of Ages, and to my surprise I got in! For context, I danced, sang, and did theater for years, but I hadn’t performed since 2013 (other than karaoke). This sparked my joy for performing again, and soon after the show I enrolled in dance classes. Another hobby I loved in the past and came back to was reading. I am happy to say that in 2023 I read 57 books! 

Now, here I am, at Groundwork! After attending Content Camp in 2019, I always stayed up to date on the happenings here. When I saw the job post I didn’t hesitate to jump on it. I know how much Groundwork values community, and after working mostly remote for a while, it was something I realized was also important to me. I still freelance as a consultant, facilitator, social media strategist and content creator, but I am happy to be part of the Groundwork team here! 

What are some of the things you’ve learned working in the different environments you’ve worked in up to this point?

As you can see I have a very multifaceted career journey. Something that I took from all of my experiences (whether it be negative or positive), was honing in on what core values are important to me when it comes to a career/job. For me it’s community, belonging, creativity, collaboration, and trust. 

What excites you about working at Groundwork?

I’m excited about continuing to foster the amazing community here at Groundwork. This is a community where everyone is welcome regardless of background, and where we can grow together. I’m looking forward to getting to know our spaces, our members, taking advantage of all the learning opportunities here, and contributing to the growth!

What inspires you right now? What are you listening to, watching, or reading?

I’ve gotten back into reading, dance, and theater which has been inspiring me a lot creatively. Reading wise, I’ve been really into fantasy books, then usually read a romance/rom com in between as a palette cleanser. I’ve been enrolled back in dance school and take ballet, jazz, and starting up contemporary classes soon. I was recently in Little Theater of Fall River’s production of Rock of Ages, and hope to continue to be part of local theater productions! After attending only local theater productions (love PPAC), I finally went to my first NYC broadway show and saw one of my favorite musicals- Wicked!

I love almost any genre of music, but in these winter months I’ve been listening to a lot of Folklore and Evermore (yes, I’m a Swiftie). As far as movies, I tend to gravitate to either a rom-com or anything Marvel related. I recently started watching the Morning Show on Apple TV and so far I’ve been loving it!

What skills or experience are you looking forward to sharing with our members?

As you can probably tell from sharing my journey, I bring a diverse set of skills from my past experiences that I’m excited to apply to my role here at Groundwork. But I will say, I’m more excited about engaging with our members, learning more about their perspectives and valuable insights they can share!