Meet our new scrum master: Kiley McElroy-Brown

Kiley McElroy-Brown

When Kiley told her father that she had a new position as the Concord Consortium’s scrum master, he asked if she would have to tackle people at work. He calls her the rugby master, but Kiley is used to bad dad jokes.

Thanks to recent training, Kiley is indeed a certified scrum master. For the record, SparkPlug Agility defines it this way in their training manual: “A Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum team and helps those outside the team understand which of their interactions with the team are helpful and which aren’t.”

Or in Kiley’s words: “I’m the liaison between the development team and the project team. It’s essentially project management from a different side of things. It’s about putting people first rather than products.”

Make sense, dad?

Kiley’s path to facilitating software development has not been so straightforward. At Bridgewater State University, she planned to study psychology, then switched to biology with a medical concentration. After a short stint as a lab technician at Athena Diagnostics in Worcester, she was accepted to the University of Massachusetts Boston with a teaching assistantship in biology. She says, “I was lucky to find a degree program that also allowed me to focus on education.”

After completing her master’s, she served as a lecturer at UMass Boston, but realized she didn’t want to be in the classroom as an educator. She credits her advisor, Brian White, for recommending that she look into the Concord Consortium. “My research focused on technology in education at the undergraduate level, so it was easy to put two and two together,” she explains.

She’s grateful that she stayed in the hard sciences because of her deep connection to the discipline, which initially landed her the job of project manager and research associate. But what really sparked her interest in technology was seeing the development of software from start to finish. She notes, “It was great to see the inception of an idea—of some awesome new thing we wanted to develop to make a difference in the classroom—then watch the evolution of that idea over time based on the different expertise of developers and project staff.”

In addition to being the scrum master, she continues to serve half time as project manager for our GeniConnect and Connected Biology projects, where her biology background comes in handy. Just last week, Kiley presented our Geniventure dragon genetics game at the International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in Lyon, France. While the conference was “amazing,” the best part for Kiley may have been discovering Google Translate. “It’s my new favorite app,” she laughs, “I would not have been able to order a single meal without it.”

When asked if she could have any superpower what it would be, she says, “Teleporting, so I could go back to France at the snap of my fingers.” Being the scrum master in our agile technology environment takes untold superpowers as we’re actively developing and researching educational technology innovations in over 40 projects. Though she doesn’t tackle anyone, that’s a lot to coordinate.