Yoast Care fund: An interview with Joe A Simpson Jr

Joe A Simpson Jr

Nominated by:
Sumner Davenport

We have another recipient of the Yoast Care fund and it’s Joe A Simpson Jr! He was nominated by Sumner Davenport for everything he contributed to the community. And he contributes a lot. Joe is a Front-End Web Developer and Graphic Designer specializing in WordPress solutions. During days he works at a top-five transit agency, fighting the good fight to ease the commute around Los Angeles County. Let’s find out what he does exactly:

Nominator Sumner Davenport: “When it comes to the worldwide WordPress community, there is one person who always jumps in to fill the gap when any need arises: Joe A. Simpson, Jr. (The A., we have learned, stands for Type A — a person with unlimited energy and, in this case, all for the good!).

Joe generously gives of his time while supporting a family and holding down a full-time job. He is an Active member in make.wordpress.org, Volunteer co-organizer of the first (hopefully annual) WordPress Accessibility Day, and he is the Founder of WordPress Santa Clarita Valley Meetup. His recent speaking topics covered Wapuu design (WordCamp LAX 2020), SEO (WordCamp Europe 2020), and Accessibility (WordCamp Austin 2020). He constantly makes himself available to help WordPress beginners and is an excellent team player. Joe brings warmth and enthusiasm to a distressed world and is a true inspiration to all that know him.”

Thank you for the nomination, Sumner! Now let’s find out more about Joe and his dedication to the community by asking him some questions:

Why WordPress?
You always hear the phrase, “WordPress Community,” but its meaning REALLY hit home for me 3 years ago. I first learned about WordPress around 2010, but not as much as I would have liked to — our Lead Developer wasn’t a fan of WordPress at that time, and it was just a tool I used. In 2017, I had a heart event (two 100% blocked arteries) and had a procedure resulting in a three-month leave of absence from work. During my recovery, I decided to only focus on doing the things that I truly loved during that time away healing.

When I initially found out about WordPress, it had such a positive impact on me, I thought, “let’s do WordPress again, but this time REALLY does it!” I zoomed in on learning as much as possible but, more importantly, unselfishly give back to his many people as I could while growing creatively, professionally, and personally. WordPress helped heal me both physically and emotionally, and I’ve been going gangbusters ever since.

Why did you start contributing? Share with us the first time you contribute?
Outside of WordCamps in WordPress Meetups, my first formal contribution to the WordPress Open Source project was at WordCamp US during its second-year in Nashville. That year I was most interested in finding out how video content and captions for WordCamps or other events find their way onto WordPress TV and volunteered for that team during Contributor Day. I learned the production and publication process — how to do transcriptions, upload files, submit for publication, and get final approvals.

Meeting Stephen and some great people that I’ve been in touch with ever since. I’ve also contributed to the Accessibility Team by helping organize the first-ever WordPress Accessibility Day (October 2-3, 2020) as the Volunteer Wrangler. There are so many great opportunities to get involved, and having people there every step of the way to support you makes it so much more fun.

Who is your WordPress hero?
Each year there were special people there each time I needed them. During my onboarding as a Community Deputy/Meetup and WordCamp Organizer, Courtney PK, Angela Jin, and Cami Kaos were so nurturing and supportive; locally, Stephen Harvey, Scott Buscemi, and Alex Vasquez took time to answer my hundreds of questions and gently moved me forward.

Connecting with speakers and attendees who took an interest in my well-being and success like Jen Miller, Francesca Marano, and Bridget Willard answered tough questions, shared experiences, and encouraged me. During the George Floyd flashpoint earlier in the pandemic, I’ll never forget how Francesca shared encouragement during a helpless and frustrating moment. The WordPress Community is so incredible.

What contribution or moment are you most proud of?
My most proud moments in the WordPress Community is seeing my efforts come full circle. Witnessing firsthand the energy, caring, and giving put into WordPress and resulting impact on other folks is so rewarding. There were two people that saw me present at WordCamp Orange County (June 2018), and both separately mentioned to me how it changed their paths.

The first gentleman said he was on the verge of disbanding his local WordPress Meetup when he heard my message of rebirth and positivity that day. The other immediately volunteered to help organize our very first WordCamp Santa Clarita, which was a celebration of all the local MeetUps north of Los Angeles.

Finally, a talented speaker and accessibility leader presented at our event and had such a good time, decided to help organize as a Speaker Wrangler the next year and eventually started her own Meetup. Giving back and helping others, especially these days, is so needed and transformative.

Where can people find you? Online, WordCamps, other meetups?
You can find me on social media platforms by doing the following: I love to talk about WordPress, Community, or hear about what you’re working on. Just use JoeSimpsonJr (one word, camel case, which is optimized for accessibility by screen readers) to connect. For example, on Twitter or Instagram, simply enter JoeSimpsonJr. Use @JoeSimpsonJr to tag me or send a direct message.

I’m on LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can search for Joe A Simpson Jr to find me. I also blog and share my community events calendar at joesimpsonjr.info and my WordPress.org username is joesimpsonjr.

Awesome, thank you so much for your amazing contributions, Joe! And to our readers: do you know someone like Joe, who loves contributing to our WordPress community? Nominate them for our Yoast Care fund to give them some well-deserved recognition. That way we can help them by giving them a gift of $500,- and an interview to say thank you for their time and effort. Go to Yoast Care page to nominate someone right away!