New Powerhouse Team Member

Christina P. brings quite a diverse background to the Powerhouse team. Originally from south Louisiana, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy from Grambling State University in December 2000. After two years of working in the field, she found herself in debt like every recent graduate, so she enlisted in the Coast Guard as an electronic technician. Two years into her first tour, she met her husband, and for 18 years, they were co-enlisted.

After 20 years in the service, it was time to retire. During Christina’s transition, she participated in the SkillBridge program, where she discovered a passion for grant writing and research. She is attending Grand Canyon University to obtain her MBA in business analytics to be a better asset to clients.

In her personal life, she loves her husband, her motorcycle, her 14-year-old dog (her study partner), and the great outdoors.

2024-03-07T09:30:37-05:00March 7th, 2024|Powerhouse News, Spotlights|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Amanda Thurn

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Amanda Thurn

Time flies when you are having fun. And from celebrating Powerhouse’s 10th anniversary, to sharing the goodness, to getting prepped for the holidays, we have been having a blast! The celebration continues as this month we shine a spotlight on the amazing Amanda Thurn.

Amanda has the distinction of being one of the first Powerhouse clients to also become a Powerhouse freelancer. Amanda worked for two of our nonprofit clients, The Children’s Hunger Project and the Space Coast Basket Brigade, and it was, as they say, meant to be when six months ago Amanda brought her talents to Powerhouse itself. (more…)

2022-11-07T13:28:25-05:00November 7th, 2022|Spotlights|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Jessica Bertsch (and Powerhouse Planning) – The 10th Anniversary Edition

In honor of Powerhouse’s 10-year anniversary, we asked the team, “What comes to mind when you think about your experience at Powerhouse?” and these are their responses.

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Jessica Bertsch (and Powerhouse Planning) – The 10th Anniversary Edition

While our “Spotlight” blog series isn’t 10 years old yet, we’re excited that Powerhouse Planning is! So, in honor of our 10th anniversary, we’re shining the spotlight on Powerhouse’s “oldest employee,” our founder and president, Jessica Bertsch. We recently sat down with her to reflect on the first 10 years of Powerhouse, lessons she’s learned, the way ahead, and why she chose Powerhouse Planning as the name we’ve all come to recognize as synonymous with successful, remote team solutions.

PH: Ten years is a significant accomplishment. Overall, when you reflect on the first 10 years, what are your thoughts?

Jessica: The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a lot harder being an owner than it is an employee! Seriously. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The benefits of freelancing are so worth it. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before, but it’s dreamy. Getting to work with people who chose Powerhouse, especially since you are all what I categorize as people who are overqualified and underutilized. Getting to recognize that talent and cultivate it on behalf of our clients makes me happy.


2022-09-26T14:51:52-04:00September 19th, 2022|Spotlights|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Emily Anderson

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Emily Anderson

Emily Anderson, one of the newer freelancers to join team Powerhouse, has been with us for the last nine months. As one of our marketing specialists and grant writers, Emily is currently working on behalf of two of our clients. In the short time she’s been with Powerhouse, she has impressed all of us with her support, exceptional work ethic, and talent.

That feeling is mutual, according to Emily: “My favorite thing about Powerhouse? The people most definitely! I work with an amazing group of people that I have come to admire and look up to so much.” She goes on to say that she learns so much from everyone at Powerhouse and feels privileged to work “with such a kind, driven, caring, and intelligent group of people.” What can we say? Emily fits right into that definition!

When she’s not working on behalf of her Powerhouse clients, Emily loves to challenge herself or find a new adventure. For example, her first job in high school was working in a tobacco field. “I was challenged to go into the tobacco fields and work,” she explains, “so I accepted the challenge and technically that was my first job.” Emily is all about the adventure, the challenge, and the discovery of new things about herself and the world around her. “I love having fun,” she says. But even more than having fun, Emily loves spending time with her friends and family. “They’re the most important things in my life,” she says. That connection to others, and deep desire to see others happy, is what sparks her enjoyment in helping others. “I just enjoy watching them grow and succeed,” she says.

Emily and her new husband got married just the two of them at the courthouse in 2019 (“Yes, we’re COVID people,” she says with a laugh) and then had the big family wedding in 2021. (We’re not kidding when we say she’s a family person.) This outdoors-loving couple lives in the city but right next to a park they take full advantage of along with their dog. When not outdoors, they enjoy cooking and trying new things. “You might find us playing real-life food ninjas in the kitchen when it comes to cutting fruit and vegetables,” she says by way of explaining that while they have no children themselves, they act enough like children to feel like the family is complete.

Emily is passionate about the work/life balance that Powerhouse strives so hard to achieve. She believes that when you work remotely it’s important to create boundaries. “One thing I do,” she explains when asked about maintaining a positive work/life balance, “is I have my ‘work hours’ and my ‘no-work hours.’ I make time to sit at my computer and work, and I schedule time to spend with friends and family. Create boundaries and don’t feel guilty for not always being readily available to work.” She points to some fantastic free resources one of our clients, HelloHealth, provides designed to help achieve positive work/life balance as well as the free resources Powerhouse has created.

Another work passion project Emily has discovered is working with nonprofit clients. In her time with Powerhouse so far, Emily cites working on grants for Camp Cranium as her favorite: “Being able to find grants for such a great cause really makes it worth every moment we work on the project. Being able to make an impact and help really means a lot to me.” Which may be why she says that one of her favorite things about Powerhouse is our grant library, a resource those who work for our nonprofit clients have access to in order to save on research time and streamline the grant-writing process. “Powerhouse sets you up for success at every turn,” Emily states. Still, her absolute favorite resource at Powerhouse is the people. “The women at Powerhouse are a great resource for any project and bring their past experiences and current to the table,” she says. Emily just adds to that collective knowledge.

As we always do, we asked Emily if there was anything others might not know about her that she could share. Most often, we get fun trivia or unbelievable personal history anecdotes, but Emily shared that she’s lived with a chronic condition for over 20 years, which can be extremely challenging. But after only a short time with Powerhouse, she has felt comfortable sharing her journey with us, which, she says, “has meant a lot to me.” That, right there, is exactly the kind of work culture we strive to cultivate every day, and we’re honored Emily is a part of it.

Want to know more about how Powerhouse can help your small business? Contact us today or visit our website. Want to see if you can bring your skills to our dynamic team? Check out what a Powerhouse career could look like for you.

2022-06-14T20:24:46-04:00June 14th, 2022|Spotlights|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s AJ Bengoa

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s AJ Bengoa

This month we’re shining the spotlight on one of our talented graphic designers and grant writers, AJ Bengoa. AJ, short for Anne Jeanene (she’s named after her mom), will celebrate her first year with Powerhouse in August. While she works on graphic design and grant-writing projects for Powerhouse, AJ prefers to identify what she does as “making other people, and companies, look and sound better. And I love research and data!” That last bit is probably why she’s so good at what she does.

AJ’s favorite thing about working at Powerhouse is “the camaraderie and positivity of all the people! At first, I thought, this cannot be real all the time, but it so is . . . Everyone is so kind and supportive. It warms my soul just thinking about it!” This atmosphere, unique for in-office companies and virtually unheard of in fully remote companies, is why AJ believes the sky is the limit for Powerhouse. “[Powerhouse President and Founder] Jess has created the perfect environment for thriving employees, and the only limit is what the employees are willing to pursue. With this team, the possibilities really do end with what we can dream up,” she says.

As someone who prefers to focus (and talk about) anyone other than herself, it was hard to pin AJ down to any self-description, but she finally said, “I believe I’m a generally positive person, and my kids say I don’t ever give up and I always finish what I start even if it kills me. Though clearly nothing has yet!” Speaking of her children, AJ was quick to brag on hers. Son Akiva is a trombone and piano player who composes music and participates in competitive fencing. He’s also, according to AJ, “one of the best fiction writers I know. He’s just so good, and he’s placed top in the state for his storytelling two years in a row, so it’s not just my biased opinion.” Daughter Ainara is also a musician (percussion being her instrument of choice), a poet, and an accomplished dancer. “She spends at least nine hours a week in the dance studio both taking and assisting classes of all kinds,” AJ adds.

Married to her husband, Alex, since 2004, AJ loves that their family spends time camping, hiking, and participating in all kinds of water sports. Her priority is family time, so the whole family will load up the beach buggy and head for the beach (a whole two blocks from the house) or toss the appropriate toys from the garage into the camper to head out for destinations a little farther from home. When not playing out on the water or going camping, she and Alex hang out in a home office that would make many of us envious. With a Cricut, two 3D printers, an engraving machine, a laser cutter, welding tools, jewelry-making tools, and a heat press, they’re pretty set up to tackle any of the creative outlets they enjoy.

AJ is proud of her extended family, too. While happy to point out that she is descended from the McCoy side of the famous Hatfields and McCoys (she has great stories to tell to anyone who is interested), she’s most proud of her father, Clyde McCoy, and his part in the Civil Rights movement. “He gave up his position as a minister because he came down on the opposite side of the Civil Rights movement from his congregation. Instead, he spent his time sponsoring the black students’ council at the University of Cincinnati when they needed a sponsor and working as the campaign manager for the first elected black mayor of Cincinnati,” she states. Her mom was the first person in the state of Kentucky, and one of the first in the country, to learn to use computers when they were first developed by IBM. “She was the only professor in the business department in the late 1960s willing to learn,” AJ says, “so she learned and then taught others how to use and program computers for the next 40 years. She taught me a few things over the years, too,” she adds with a smile.

That computer savviness must run in her blood because AJ does great things for Powerhouse in the graphic design department and is always willing to lend her creative mind to developing ideas for other projects. Her creative talent combines seamlessly with her computer knowledge, but she still says her favorite Powerhouse projects are “all the amazing products my fellow designers create. It amazes me how many other things and what a variety of talents are accumulated under the Powerhouse umbrella.” She’s hoping to continue to be under that umbrella for a long time. “I’ll be transitioning to an empty nester in five years and Alex will retire a few years after that, but I’m hoping to still keep on with Powerhouse as we travel the Americas in our camper,” she says.


As always, we asked AJ to tell us something not many others know about her, and we just had to laugh at her response, given her avowal that she is a water sports addict. “I’m scared of ducks!” she says. A bad early childhood experience was compounded by having to cross a bridge surrounded by “quacking, pecking, sharp-beaked, feathered swarms” every day in college. Ironically, her son’s first word was “duck” and he still has a soft spot for them—“Mainly the rubber duckie variety, which I don’t place in the scary category, but still!” she laughs. Luckily for AJ, there aren’t any real ducks associated with Powerhouse (that we know of), but the next time we all get together via Zoom, we may just have to bring out any rubber duckies we have floating around our home offices. All in the name of continuing that positive camaraderie we all enjoy so much, of course.

2022-07-09T13:53:29-04:00June 14th, 2022|Spotlights|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Crystal Toy

Since the beginning of any year is a time to start fresh, explore all the possibilities open to you, and focus on new ventures, we thought it only fitting that our first team spotlight should fall on Powerhouse Planning’s newest employee. Crystal Toy has been with us for just two short months, but she’s already made a vibrant impact on all of us. As one of our dynamic social media specialists, Crystal has come onboard running, ready to absorb everything she can and turn it into amazing content for our clients.

As a Coast Guard veteran, Crystal goes “all in” with anything she does. Her commitment to serve our nation as a member of the Coast Guard lasted 15 years and is something she’d still be doing if she hadn’t put her family’s needs first. With her husband also being active-duty Coast Guard (with 16 years and counting), and two young children to consider (who have already moved five times in their 8 and 7 years, respectively), Crystal decided it was time to find a new way to serve.

Which is why she’s glad she found Powerhouse. “I am happy to be working with a company that has a demonstrated desire to support the military community by contracting diverse teams of (mostly) military spouses and veterans,” she says. Diversity and the opportunity to learn and broaden one’s horizons attracted Crystal to military service in the first place, so to find a company that continues these opportunities while still helping her feel connected to the wider military community she loves was a definite bonus in her opinion. “Plus,” she adds, “I also love the consistently warm, uplifting, and professional culture that Powerhouse upholds.” Finding all those elements in one company that also allows her to work remotely and achieve the work/life balance she and her family needs equals a perfect fit.

Crystal describes herself as “creative, enthusiastic, and outgoing,” which are all characteristics we’ve immediately noticed about her in the short time she’s worked with Powerhouse. She’s quick to share any opportunities for professional growth she comes across; always works to find the new, best approach to our clients’ needs; and enthusiastically supports those she works with, whether she works with them closely or not. It’s just who she is, she says. “Having operated in countless volatile, complex environments during my time in the military, I have developed a keen ability to think outside the box while maintaining a positive, forward-moving mindset.” She’s also learned the intangible benefits that come from encouraging and uplifting those you work with. When you build a team you can trust, one that’s built on positive energy, the possibilities are endless.

Having made the shift from military to remote work, Crystal has had to figure out how to maintain a positive work/life balance. “I relentlessly prioritize and schedule self-care,” she said. “I live by the mantra that you can’t pour from an empty cup!” She suggests that you take ten minutes and make a list of all the things that bring you joy. Then add those to your calendar and make a pact with yourself that these items are non-negotiable. “Tell everyone that you are not free during these times. This includes family and friends,” she stresses. “Prioritizing your needs will give you more energy to give back to others. Your family will thank you.”

When she’s not working, Crystal prioritizes her family and self-care time by doing as much outdoors as she can. “Playing sports, hiking, snowboarding, it’s all in there,” she says. Travel is important to the family as well. “We love to travel. We love to cruise. And we love Disney World. Being stationed in Cape Canaveral, Florida was fantastic because we were so close!” she says. Her new position with Powerhouse means she can capitalize on family time and self-care, even if she isn’t currently anywhere near Disney World.

Crystal is excited for the future of Powerhouse, feeling that we’ll grow our nonprofit support services in the next five years. It’s something she’s looking forward to because supporting those who are supporting others is what she’s all about. Being so new, she hasn’t figured out if there’s one service Powerhouse offers that she likes more than others, but what she loves most is “Powerhouse’s ability to provide a vastly diverse package of services suited to any client’s needs. There are so many robustly talented freelancers at Powerhouse,” she adds. “I really don’t know that we have a limit on what we can do!” She is, in true Crystal fashion, exuberantly excited for what 2022 holds in store for Powerhouse. “This is going to be a great year!” she says, and we’re inclined to agree.

As always, we asked Crystal to share something about herself we might not be aware of, and she laughed a little, since she has only been here one month. Still, she didn’t disappoint. She shared that she spent over a decade playing competitive travel ice hockey, even playing in a few Coast Guard national tournaments. More surprising than that? At only 5’ 2” tall, she played defense, which is not common for such a short individual, she assures us. We’re not surprised. We might not have known Crystal long, but there’s certainly one thing we already know: She’s passionate about the things she loves and she’s always all in, no matter what. That kind of passion is exactly what Powerhouse is all about, and we’re excited to see how Crystal channels hers for our clients.

2024-01-26T13:39:52-05:00March 11th, 2022|Spotlights|