Demystifying Marketing Jargon: Understanding the Significance of SEO

You’ve probably encountered the term “SEO” in digital marketing numerous times. It’s one of those buzzwords that get thrown around a lot, but what does it mean, and why is it so crucial in a business setting? In this blog post, we’ll demystify SEO, shedding light on its importance and exploring the potential consequences of neglecting it in your business practices.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. At its core, SEO is the practice of organically enhancing your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s about ensuring your website ranks as high as possible when people search for relevant keywords or phrases on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Why is SEO Important for Businesses?

  1. Increased Visibility: Businesses primarily invest in SEO to improve their online visibility. When your website appears at the top of search results for keywords related to your products or services, it’s more likely that potential customers will find and visit your site.
  2. Traffic Growth: Higher visibility leads to increased website traffic. And more traffic means more opportunities to convert visitors into paying customers, subscribers, or leads.
  3. Credibility and Trust: Websites that rank highly in search results are often perceived as more credible and trustworthy by users. People trust Google’s recommendations so a top-ranking spot can boost your brand’s credibility.
  4. Cost-Effective Marketing: SEO can be a cost-effective long-term strategy compared to traditional advertising. While it requires an initial investment, it can lead to sustained traffic and conversions without the ongoing expenses associated with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
  5. Competitive Advantage: In today’s competitive online landscape, your competitors are likely investing in SEO. By doing so, you can also level the playing field or even gain an edge over them.

Consequences of Neglecting SEO

Now that we’ve established why SEO is important let’s discuss what can happen if it’s not part of your business practices:

  1. Low Visibility: Without SEO, your website may remain buried in search engine results. This means potential customers are unlikely to find you when they search for products or services you offer, resulting in missed opportunities.
  2. Loss of Customers: A lack of SEO can lead to declining website traffic, meaning fewer customers. Your competitors who invest in SEO will capture a larger market share.
  3. Wasted Marketing Budget: If you’re relying solely on paid advertising and not optimizing your website for organic search, you may spend a significant portion of your marketing budget on ads without reaping the long-term benefits that SEO can provide.
  4. Inconsistent Branding: SEO is not just about keywords and rankings; it’s also about creating valuable, relevant, and high-quality content. Neglecting SEO means missing opportunities to strengthen your brand’s online presence and reputation.
  5. Difficulty in Recovery: If you ignore SEO for an extended period, it can be challenging to catch up with competitors who have consistently invested in it. SEO is an ongoing process; playing catch-up can be time-consuming and expensive.

In conclusion, SEO is not just marketing jargon; it’s a fundamental aspect of digital marketing that can significantly impact your business’s success. By understanding its importance and the potential consequences of neglecting it, you can make informed decisions about incorporating SEO into your business practices. In today’s online-driven world, SEO is not an option; it’s necessary for any business looking to thrive in the digital landscape.


by Art Intelligenza


The Pitfalls of Wearing Open-Toed Shoes to a Zoom Job Interview

by Art Intelligenza

With a flair for the dramatic, please welcome smartdept.’s newest social media contributor, Art Intelligenza. Art will join us occasionally to give his unique perspective on all amazing employment-related topics. His first assignment – the open-toed shoe dilemma.


In the era of remote work and virtual interactions, professional and casual attire boundaries have become increasingly blurred. While the convenience of video interviews on platforms like Zoom has revolutionized the job application process, it’s important to remember that first impressions still matter. One often overlooked aspect of appearance in a virtual job interview is footwear. Specifically, wearing open-toed shoes can inadvertently send the wrong message and negatively impact how a hiring manager perceives you.

The Message of Casualness

Open-toed shoes are often associated with warm weather and leisurely activities. They can be comfortable and stylish choices for relaxed social gatherings or outings. However, wearing them to a job interview, even a virtual one, can convey a sense of casualness and lack of seriousness. In a professional setting, footwear is integral to one’s overall appearance, contributing to the impression of professionalism and attention to detail. Opting for open-toed shoes might suggest to the hiring manager that you didn’t put in the effort to present yourself in a polished and formal manner.

Hiring Manager’s Reaction

A hiring manager’s perception of your footwear choice can influence their overall impression of you as a candidate. While it might seem like a small detail, it can reveal your approach to professionalism and your understanding of appropriate dress codes. A hiring manager could interpret open-toed shoes as a need for understanding the importance of dressing appropriately for the interview, potentially signaling that you might not take the job seriously or may not be an excellent cultural fit for the company. This could inadvertently cast a shadow over your qualifications and expertise, overshadowing the valuable skills you bring to the table.

Advantages of Open-Toed Shoes

While open-toed shoes might not be the ideal choice for a virtual job interview, there are some scenarios where they could work to your advantage. In industries with a more relaxed dress code, such as creative fields or startups, wearing open-toed shoes could align with the company culture and show that you understand and respect the company’s values. Additionally, open-toed shoes might be more acceptable if the position involves working in a warm climate or in roles where comfort and movement are essential.

Navigating the Shoe Dilemma

When preparing for a virtual job interview, it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for closed-toe, professional footwear. This choice conveys that you take the interview seriously and understand professional dress codes strongly. Classic black or brown closed-toe shoes are safe choices that won’t distract the hiring manager from your qualifications and experience.

In conclusion, the pitfalls of wearing open-toed shoes to a Zoom job interview are rooted in the potential message of casualness they convey. While they might be comfortable and stylish, their presence can inadvertently weaken the overall impression you make on a hiring manager. To ensure that you project professionalism and attention to detail, choosing closed-toe shoes that align with the traditional interview attire expectations is best. Remember, in virtual interactions, every element of your appearance matters, and by carefully considering your attire, you can increase your chances of making a positive and lasting impression.

Nice work, Arthur! Way to expose the potentially dark underside of the Zoom interview. Hiring managers beware!

Allyship in the Workplace

June is pride month, a time for LGBTQ+ individuals to celebrate who they are and who they love as well as a time to remember the progress of the gay rights movement and consider what still lies ahead in the move towards equality. Even when it is not June, our LGBTQ+ coworkers should feel comfortable being themselves in the office year-round. In 2019, 46% of LGBTQ+ people reported hiding who they are at work for fear of making others uncomfortable or being stereotyped, among other reasons. For this pride month, consider if you are a good ally at work.

An ally is someone who is not a member of a marginalized group, but makes a conscious effort to support, understand, and stand up for those who are. There are several things you can do to improve allyship and inclusivity in your workplace.

1. Educate yourself

One of the most essential parts of being an ally is educating yourself about the experiences of LGBTQ+ people. There may be terms, pronouns, history, policies, and systemic discrimination you are unaware of. The Human Rights Campaign has a great online resource for those who want to become better allies. You become a better supporter and advocate when you are educated and aware.

2. Acknowledge your own biases

Bias is a part of human nature, but we cause less harm to others when we are aware of our implicit biases and actively resist them. One way to do this is to reflect on what prejudices and stereotypes you may be unconsciously harboring or even acting on. Consider what assumptions you are making about others and why, then work to unlearn them through education and mindfulness.

3. Show your support

Speaking of assumptions, we should not assume our coworkers’ pronouns or sexualities. It can put someone in an uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous position where they need to decide between correcting you or letting it slide and hiding who they are. Gender-neutral language can be a powerful tool in creating an inclusive work environment. Gendered salutations like “good morning ladies and gentlemen” exclude any nonbinary members of the group and are easy to replace with neutral phrases like “good morning everyone/team”. You should also avoid assuming someone has a husband/boyfriend or wife/girlfriend and use more inclusive terms like “partner”, “spouse”, or “significant other” if you do not know. If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, use they/them until you do know their correct pronouns. Another simple thing you can do to show you are an ally is to add your pronouns to your email sign-off. Doing this normalizes pronoun inclusion and shows your coworkers that you respect and honor pronouns.

4. Acknowledge your privilege and use it for good

Being cisgender or heterosexual comes with privileges as you fall within what society considers “the norm”. A good ally is aware of their privilege and acknowledges that it provides them with a platform that others may not have access to. There may be situations where it is unsafe or uncomfortable for LGBTQ+ employees to call someone out at work or speak up. Do not be a passive bystander if you witness discriminatory or homophobic behavior at work, and use your platform to stand up for your LGBTQ+ coworkers. Take action, be an active listener, vote thoughtfully on policies that affect equality, and educate others when given the opportunity.

These are just a few measures among many you can take to improve allyship in your workplace. For many of us, work is where we spend most of our time, and we need to make sure our LGBTQ+ colleagues feel not just safe, but welcome and celebrated.

– Morgan Gorecki, Senior Creative Account Manager at smartdept.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Hey! It’s Women’s History Month. And seeing as we are a Women’s Business Enterprise, certified by the WBENC, we thought it would be cool to ask a few of our Smarties to share their thoughts on women of historic significance that have been inspirational for them.

Amber Rowher, Creative Account Manager at smartdept. says, “The first person that comes to mind is Dolly Parton. Aside from being an incredible artist who has found success across several music genres, she has always challenged societal norms of being a woman. To this day, she continues to speak out and support LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter. I think it is because of women like her that others today are given more opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

What? Are you not familiar with Dolly Rebecca Parton? Well, here’s a bit more. Dolly is an American singer-songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and businesswoman known primarily for her decades-long career in country music. Dolly’s career has spanned over fifty years; Parton has been described as a “country music legend” and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Okay, she’s got talent. But did you know that she also co-owns The Dollywood Company, which manages the Dollywood theme park, the Splash Country water park, and a variety of dinner theatre venues? Additionally, she has founded several charitable and philanthropic organizations, including the Dollywood Foundation, which manages several projects to bring education and poverty relief to East Tennessee, where she grew up.

Honestly, Dolly is excellent! Her philanthropic efforts are too many even to list. But here is something worthy of attention. In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Parton donated $1 million towards research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and encouraged those who can afford it to make similar donations. What would Dolly do (WWDD)? Now you know!

Rob Leinheiser, Creative Account Manager at smartdept. says, “As a theater lover, Aphra Behn is a trailblazer with a special place in my heart. Her plays are rich and epic, in the same style as Shakespeare and her Restoration contemporaries. Her greatest work, The Rover, is still widely performed today.”

Aphra Behn was born on December 14th, 1640. Yup! I had to bust out Peabody’s Way Back Machine for this one. But Aphra Behn’s contributions are substantial! And think of all the travel miles I accumulated during my research. An English playwright, poet, prose writer, and translator from the Restoration era, Aphra was one of the first English women to earn a living from her writing. As a result, she broke cultural barriers and served as a literary role model for later generations of women authors.

Aphra was one bad 17th Century lady, and her rise from obscurity caught the attention of Charles II, who employed her as a spy. Upon her return to London, she began writing for the stage. She ran with a coterie of poets and famous libertines and wrote under the pseudonym Astrea. Following her death, new female dramatists acknowledged Behn as a vital predecessor who opened public space for women writers. In 1915, a six-volume collection of her work was republished, and since the 1970s, Behn’s literary works have been praised by feminist critics and writers. As a result, Behn was rediscovered as a significant female writer.

She is remembered in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: “All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn… for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds… Behn proved that money could be made by writing at the sacrifice of certain agreeable qualities. By degrees, writing became not merely a sign of folly and a distracted mind but was of practical importance.

She died on April 16th, 1689, and was buried in the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey (hands down Joey Tibbiani’s favorite Abbey).

Sarah Zachary, Creative Account Manager at smartdept. says, “I think of RBG. She was insanely successful in her career, serving as a trailblazer in the US Supreme Court. She spent most, if not her entire, career advocating for gender equality and women’s rights and has been inspiring to so many women who want to make a difference in our country today.”

Yaazzz! Sarah knocks it out of the park with her choice of Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until she died in 2020. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Court after Sandra Day O’Connor. President Bill Clinton nominated her for The Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Byron White.

Ginsburg spent much of her legal career advocating for gender equality and women’s rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel. I could break the internet listing how RBG has contributed to reshaping our society. She authored significant opinions or is credited with influencing colleagues on gender discrimination, abortion rights, search and seizure, international law, voting rights and affirmative action, and Native Americans.

As a result of her actions, RBG has received more than 30 honorary degrees (not too shabby) and has been recognized as an inductee in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, named one of the 100 most powerful women in 2009, and was named one of Time Magazines’ 100 most influential people in 2015.

Thanks for peaking at some women who have inspired us here at smartdept. We encourage you to celebrate Women’s History Month with us by taking a minute to think about women (other than your Mom) who have inspired you.

Dolly Parton photo by: Eva Rinaldi
Aphra Behn image from: Ann Longmore-Etheridge
Ruth Bader Ginsburg photo from LBJ Library

Finding Your Niche

While having a general skill set to draw on is substantial, finding your niche in any field is crucial to securing unique opportunities and growing your professional network. Being an expert in one discipline opens doors to opportunities you might not have considered. Creating a reputation for your specialized skill set will help other professionals recognize your talents by word of mouth. When thinking about your career path, it’s essential to keep in mind what you want to be known for. Are you a graphic designer with a well-rounded portfolio? That’s great! But hiring managers want candidates that are not only versatile but also specialized. There’s no doubt you have the skills to excel in that Presentation Designer job you just applied for – but how will you stack up against another designer who has found their niche in presentation design?

Here are some tips for finding your niche and refining your expertise over your career.

Focus on your strengths

Think about your professional experience so far – what have you excelled at? Are you a responsive and clear communicator? A leader with the insight needed to manage others. An organizational wizard who can wrangle an excel spreadsheet like no one else. Knowing what you’re good at is the first step to finding what you should be known for being good at. If you’re unsure, ask your co-workers or former supervisors to weigh in – sometimes, it’s hard to see where our strengths lie!

Just because you’re good at it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be challenging!

It can be easy to settle into our regular responsibilities, especially if we’re good at them. But clocking in and running through the motions daily will leave you in the dust. Innovations mean jobs are constantly changing and pushing you out of your comfort zone is essential to ensure you are staying competitive in your field. Take every opportunity to try something new; you might find a new skill you possessed all along. Use these opportunities to keep learning and growing, and soon enough, you will be taking on challenges others wouldn’t know where to begin with.

It’s never too late for a change

Maybe what you’ve been doing so far doesn’t light that fire in you anymore- that’s okay! We are constantly changing as humans, and sometimes we need an external change to keep up with our development. It’s never too late to try something new, and with many online resources, it’s easier than ever to change specialties or fields. Try taking that UX course you saw an ad for, or maybe watch some videos on digital marketing trends. Don’t be afraid to explore your interests because your niche will reflect what you’re most passionate about. Once clients and employers see that passion, they’ll know they can trust you with their vision and feel confident that they are in the hands of an expert.

By Rob Leinheiser, smartdept. Talent Acquisition Specialist

Pronouns: More Than Just Grammar

International Pronouns Day takes place every year on the 3rd Wednesday of October. This year Pronouns Day is October 19th. International Pronouns Day takes place each year with a straightforward goal; to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. That’s amazing because it’s one of our goals at smartdept., too. With that in mind, let’s look at what Pronouns are, why they are essential, and how we can use them in the workplace to create an inclusive and welcoming environment.

What is a Pronoun?

That’s a great question! Thanks for asking. Personal gender pronouns are those a person identifies with and would like to be called when their proper name is not used. The goal is for all people to decide how they want to be addressed. Some examples of commonly used Pronouns are:

  • she/her/hers
  • he/him/his
  • they/them/their
  • zi/zir/zirs/zirself
  • hi/hir/hirs/hirself

Being referred to by the wrong pronouns mainly affects transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Why are they important?

Another great question! Referring to a person by the Pronoun of their choice is essential to human dignity. At smartdept., we use them because it allows us to see the whole picture of a person. Referring to people in our environment by the Pronoun of their choosing normalizes non-binary and transgender identities in the workplace and creates a safer environment for everyone. Additionally, it shows our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and allows us to respect our candidates, clients, and others.

How can we use them?

Ding, Ding, Ding! Five Stars! We should all consider including our Pronouns in our email signature and incorporate neutral language in greetings. If you are not sure how someone would like to be addressed, it’s okay. Just Ask. Try something appropriate like, “My pronouns are _______. Are you comfortable sharing your pronouns with me?” And if you make a mistake and someone corrects you, say “Thank you” instead of “I’m sorry.”

For ideas on how to participate in #pronounsday and for additional resources, please visit


By Haley Stowell, Sr. Creative Account Manager

Hispanic Heritage Month: Literature and Art

The smarty team continues to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with more influential views on Hispanic culture.

Creative Account Manager, Haley Stowell, enjoys the writing of Sandra Cisneros.  Known for work that experiments with literary forms which investigate emerging subject positions, Cisneros, herself, attributes her style to growing up in a context of cultural hybridity and economic inequality. Sandra is the only daughter in a family of six brothers which often made her feel isolated. Additionally, the constant migration of her family between Mexico and the United States made her feel as though she was always straddling two countries, while never really belonging to either culture. As a result, her work deals with the formation of Chicana identity, exploring the challenges of being caught between Mexican and Anglo-American cultures, facing the misogynist attitudes present in both these cultures, and experiencing poverty.

Cisneros has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the Ford Foundation Art of Change fellowship in 2017, and is regarded as a key figure in Chicano literature.

In Haley’s Words…

“I admire her bold prose which lends itself to exemplifying the stories of Latinx individuals that are truly felt and understood across cultures.”

Haley’s Pick…

Sandra Cisneros penned one of Haley’s favorite books. A coming-of-age story called The House on Mango Street. Check it out!

Read more about Sandra Cisneros here.


Eryn Briscoe, Talent Acquisition Specialist at smartdept., admires the work of Mexican Painter, Frida Kahlo. Frida is known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at La Casa Azul, her family home in Cayoacán. Inspired by the country’s popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Often mixing strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. Kahlo has been described as both a surrealist and a magical realist.

Kahlo is known for painting her experience with chronic pain. She contracted polio as a child and was injured in a bus accident at the age of 18, which caused her lifelong pain and medical problems. It was then she returned to her childhood interest in art.

In Eryn’s own words…

“I think I admire Frida because of her exclamation, I paint the flowers so they will not die. I love that philosophy! Seeing art as a way to own the unknownable, to protect the things and people you love against the cruelty of time. Also, the fact that she’s a woman of color in a patriarchal society, is very impactful.”

Eryn’s Pick…

Check out, Diego and I. In this painting, Frida’s great anguish over Diego Rivera is revealed after his affair with Maria Felix nearly resulted in their divorce.

Read more about Frida Kahlo here.


Credits: “Sandra Cisneros” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Photograph of Frida Kahlo’s 1949 oil painting Diego And I via Wikipedia. Header photo: crop of Emmy Star Brown painting.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on Humanities

The smarty team continues to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with more influential views on Hispanic culture.

Creative Account Manager, Morgan Gorecki, would like you to take some time to learn about Sylvia Rivera. Born on July 2, 1951, this Latina trailblazer was a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican trans woman who pioneered LGBT activism, fighting for trans rights. Raised in New York City, Sylvia was abandoned by her birth father and became an orphan after her mother died by suicide. Living on the streets before her 11th birthday, Rivera was forced to work as a child prostitute before she was taken in by a local community of drag queens who gave her the name Sylvia. Together she and Marsha P Johnson (who allegedly was the first person who threw a brick in the Stonewall riots) created the “Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries” (STAR) organization that provided a home for trans people living on the streets in the 1970s in NY as well as offered organizers a space to discuss issues facing the transgender community in NY.

In Morgan’s Words…

I admire Sylvia on many levels. As time goes on, the trans community has become more and more accepted, and it is clear the work Sylvia had done in the past was the catalyst to this. She had paved the way for the LGBT community to walk; feeling much more normal than our past histories have depicted. In hindsight, Sylvia has saved so many LGBT lives with her efforts not only at the Stonewall riots, but her legacy lives on as the world continues to move in a more positive direction.

Morgan’s Pick…

Check out the book, The Stone Wall Reader, an anthology chronicling the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s and the activists who spearheaded it.

Read more about Sylvia Rivera here and here.


Rob Leinheiser, Talent Acquisition Specialist at smartdept., admires the work of Jacob Padrón. This Mexican American is the artistic director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT. He is also the Artistic Director of The Sol Project and a co-founder of the Artists’ Anti-Racism Coalition. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University where he studied Theatre and Communications, Jacob also attended the Yale School of Drama studying Theatre Management.

Padrón was raised in Gilroy, California. During his youth, he attended a production of “La Virgen del Tepeyac” put on by El Teatro Campesino. He soon joined the company and was a member throughout his teenage years. After graduating college Jacob volunteered with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, providing support for those living with HIV/AIDS. Before his role at Long Warf Theatre, he worked as an associate producer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, and a producer for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. Padrón was named “one to watch” by American Theatre Magazine.

In Rob’s own words…

“I love the theatre scene in New Haven, where I live, and it has been made even better the last few years with Jacob Padrón’s artistic leadership at Long Wharf Theatre. Jacob is a talented producer who has dedicated his work to lift new and exciting voices, reckoning with the legacy of racism in American theatre, and fulfilling Long Wharf’s mission statement of creating theatre for everyone.”

Rob’s Pick…

If you’re local to New Haven (and even if you’re not, join or support the Long Wharf Theatre because “theatre is for everyone.”

Read more about Jacob Padrón here and here.


Credits: Sylvia Rivera with STAR banner by Roseleechs – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0; header photo: crop of Emmy Star Brown painting.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on Arts and Culture

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, smartdept. has asked a few of its smarties to share whom it is that they admire from this richly talented and diverse community.

One of our founders, Michelle Pairitz, would like you to know about Judithe Hernández, an artist, educator, muralist, pastel artist, and painter. Judithe is a pioneer of the Chicano Art Movement and a former member of the art collective Los Four. She is based in Los Angeles, CA, and previously lived in Chicago, IL.

Judithe Hernández in 2010 via Wikipedia

Judithe first received acclaim in the 1970s for her mural work. Her artistic practice shifted over time and now is centered on works on paper, principally pastels, which frequently incorporate indigenous imagery and the social-political tension of gender roles.

In 1974, she became the fifth and only woman member of Los Four, the influential and celebrated East Los Angeles Chicano artist collective. Additionally, she was later part of the art collective, Centro de Arte Público. As early as 1970, Hernández was involved in the initial efforts of Chicano artists in East Los Angeles. During a time in which she was the only female at meetings who was not a girlfriend or wife but an active artist participant.

In Michelle’s Words…

“I identify with and admire Judithe Hernandez on many levels. I, too, am an Artist who similarly produces large works and expresses my point of view through my work. As a professional, I consider myself a trailblazer, like Judithe. Starting a niched staffing resource more than twenty years ago involved imagination, courage, and a multitude of risks. Still today, smartdept. is one of just a few creative, digital, and marketing-niched staffing resources certified as a women’s business enterprise.”

Michelle’s Pick…

Check out Summer, created by Judithe in 2013 as a portion of the Santa Monica Metro public art project transcultural depictions of sun-related mythology.

Learn more about Judithe Hernández here and here.


Melissa Imbrogno, Senior National Account Manager at smartdept. admires the work of actor, rapper, composer, playwright, and filmmaker Lin-Manuel Miranda. Known for creating the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights, and the soundtrack of Disney’s Encanto, his work has earned him three Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, two Laurence Olivier Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, an Annie Award, a MacArthur Fellowship Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Pulitzer Prize.

Miranda in March 2022, via Wikipedia

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Miranda made his Broadway debut in the 2008 musical In the Heights, starring, and writing the music and lyrics. A critical and commercial success, In the Heights, won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Original Score, and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, and was adapted into a film released in June 2021. Miranda is perhaps most recognized for writing the script, music, and lyrics for the pop culture phenomenon Hamilton in 2015. It earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for a record 16 Tony Awards, winning eleven.

In Melissa’s own words…

“Lin is an amazing writer and performer and has inspired a whole new demographic with his release of Hamilton. He took something that’s been the same way since the beginning of time and flipped it on its head. He is a minority, embraces his culture, and has inspired and taught so many.”

Melissa’s Pick…

Disney’s Encanto because the musical style is immediately recognizable and the impression it leaves on you is unforgettable.

Learn more about Lin-Manuel Miranda here and here.


Credits: Judithe Hernández in 2010 via Wikipedia; Miranda in March 2022, via Wikipedia; header photo: crop of Emmy Star Brown painting.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month…

For the first week of Hispanic Heritage month, smartdept. is highlighting the life and career of Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Pirate, Roberto Clemente.

Stick to what you know, right?

Clemente played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball, all with the Pirates. Among his player achievements are 15 All-Star games, 1966 NL MVP award, 4-time NL batting champion, 12 consecutive gold gloves, 3000 career hits, 2x World Series champion, and a World Series MVP.

Oh, yeah, and he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and 6 months after his untimely death Baseball waived its standard 5-year waiting period and inducted him into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1973). His induction made him the first Caribbean-born and Latin player to receive enshrinement.

But in my opinion, that’s not even what makes him special.

Roberto Clemente was a tireless humanitarian, spending his off-seasons focused on charitable causes. His efforts both on and off the field lead Major League Baseball to rename its Commissioners Award to The Roberto Clemente Award given to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team.

So, it was no surprise that when Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, was affected by an earthquake on December 23, 1972, Clemente immediately went to work arranging emergency relief. But he learned that because of corrupt officials in the Somoza government, the aid packages that he set up were not being delivered. On New Year’s Eve 1972, he decided to accompany the relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure the delivery of the much-needed aid to the survivors. The Douglas DC-7 cargo plane he chartered had a history of mechanical problems, an insufficient number of flight personnel, and was overloaded by 4,200 pounds when it crashed immediately after take-off into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde Puerto Rico. There were no survivors.

If you investigated it, you would find endless examples of selfless acts performed by the late Roberto Clemente. One that sticks out for me happened on the day of his passing and was quite possibly the last selfless thing he did.

Tom Walker was a pitcher who pitch parts of si