Jennifer Bagaglio is the Chief Operating Officer at Service Year Alliance, an organization founded in 2016 to make more paid, national service opportunities available to young people.
Service Year Alliance works to make a year of paid, full-time service a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans. A service year provides an opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service.
“I reached out to BELAY in the fall of 2020,” Jennifer recalls. “We had been introduced to BELAY probably a year prior to that by one of our partners, [but] we weren’t totally sure if a virtual model was going to work for our organization at the time when all of us were pre-pandemic, going to an office every day.”
“So it was always in the back of my mind, but not something we acted on until we were all remote, and all of a sudden the playing field was leveled in a lot of ways.”
“I reached out specifically because I was going on maternity leave in a few months and was looking for someone who could keep a lot of the day-to-day items that I work on — especially related to finance and administration — up and running.”
“We started an engagement with the intention that I would come back from leave and this person would fully integrate into our operations team, which is what we’ve seen happen.”
And that ‘fully integrated’ person is BELAY Virtual Assistant Alyssa Pence.
“We got into a groove pretty quickly upon my return,” Jennifer says. “When I got back on board, we definitely tried to standardize a lot of things. We were checking in, we were doing one-on-ones weekly, and I was able to set clear guidelines and expectations for how we were going to use a person like this.”
“She manages all of our daily agendas and our weekly items, and she’s fully integrated with our senior team to manage their calendars. What I tried to do was make sure she was getting enough guidance from other people on the team so that she could be helpful to them.”
Alyssa primarily works on organizing finances and working closely with their external accountant.
“We ramped things up over the last four or five months,” Jennifer explains. “[Alyssa] does all of our inputs for the monthly close every month – so [reviewing] everyone’s timesheets, reviewing our revenue, reconciling it against our cash account, making sure that any invoices get processed, making sure vendors are properly in our system.”
“She also manages our internal team’s daily agendas and our calendars. She also has been working on overhauling our digital filing system to build a structure that works for us.”
“Because we had a start where I wasn’t there at the beginning, I would imagine it took a bit more time to make sure that she felt comfortable with us and with me,” Jennifer says.
“Making sure I was being an advocate for her with the team built a lot of trust between Alyssa and myself.”
And, as an added bonus, Alyssa’s kind personality fits in well with the culture of Service Year Alliance.
“She is the kindest person we’ve ever met,” Jennifer laughs. “We often say that to each other. She is a very, very kind person and wants to be helpful in whatever way she can, and that’s definitely a big part of our culture.”
“We often define ourselves as a caring culture, so I think her personality and orientation toward wanting to help others obviously fits in with how our team approaches things.”
With Alyssa taking over many of the finance tasks, Jennifer has been able to crawl out of the weeds.
“Having someone else prepare things – and having me be the person who’s reviewing instead of the person in the weeds – has given me a very different perspective,” Jennifer says.
“It’s helpful to be the person who’s seeing things at a level a little bit higher than some of the day-to-day items. It’s helped me think differently about how other people might be viewing them.”
“On the finance front, that’s definitely been incredibly helpful.”
Looking forward to what’s next, Jennifer is excited about giving Alyssa more responsibility in her role at Service Year Alliance.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Alyssa continue to grow,” Jennifer says. “I have noticed over the last few months [that] I’ve been able to put more and more on her plate.”
“And this is true with any employee, right? After they’ve been in a role for a little while, you can really start to give them more and more. I’m excited to see where she goes next.”
“Alyssa is wonderful, and we’ve had a great experience.”