Talisha Lewallen is the CEO and Co-founder of WP Connects an organization that seeks to connect United States military personnel to careers in WordPress.
Talisha is also an award-winning Cherokee Nation Basket Weaver, a mom, wife, and farmer.
She has several family members who served or are already serving the US Military and noticed they struggled to to enter civilian life including re-entering the workforce.
Through a connection with Post Status Publisher and Owner, Cory Miller, she started WP Connects.
Today, we learn more about Talisha Lewallen and WP Connects.
What is your WordPress origin story?
My WordPress Origin story starts with COVID. I own a farm in Oklahoma, and when COVID started there were concerns about food shortages. I told my husband that we didn’t have a food shortage, because farmers had beef, chickens, and pork, we needed to make it accessible to the public. I did some research on what licenses I needed. Then I called Cory Miller and he helped me get my first website up and running. Now I have created 3 WordPress sites, and I have gotten involved with the community. There is no going back for me. WordPress is amazing and the people are even better.
What do you like doing when you aren’t doing WordPress things?
Outside of WordPress, I like to do a variety of things. From Camping to working on our farm. I am also an award winning Cherokee Nation Basket Weaver, which can be a bit unique. I love to do anything artsy to almost anything outdoors.
What is your goal and purpose for WP Connects?
Our Mission is to help U.S. military personnel who are leaving their career as soldiers (“separating”) to obtain and grow great WordPress careers. We at WP Connects help these men and women obtain the training, tools, mentorship and connections to succeed within the WordPress community. After completing WP Connects training, our job placement program will help our trained professionals obtain employment with our partnered employers.
What prompted you to start WP Connects? What is that story?
I have several family members and friends that are serving or have served in the United States military. I have seen their struggles with returning to civilian life. The majority of them have amazing skills that do not always translate on a résumé. However, that has never meant they are lacking or not able to work in the corporate world. Their career start looks different than people who went to college, technical schools, or started their own businesses. Cory Miller met a gentleman who helps military members start their next chapter in their lives. Cory brought me into the conversation and now here we are with WP Connects. We genuinely want to help WordPress obtain more amazing people, as well as help these amazing people find their next career path. I can’t think of a better community to help these individuals than WordPress.
What kinds of companies and people do you need to help WP Connects?
We need individuals who can volunteer a few hours a week to help mentor the men and women who are taking our training course. This is an 8-10 week commitment.
We are also searching for companies who want to hire trained individuals. Our SkillBridge program trains individuals while they are also working in an internship. We are looking for companies to partner with us and reach out a helping hand to these former soldiers who have a lot of skills and heart to give to your company.
Can you explain more about SkillBridge and how it works?
SkillBridge is a program by the DoD (Department of Defense) that allows separating service members to start training for their next career in their last 180 days of contracted service. Our SkillBridge Course is 12 weeks long. Companies will interview potential candidates. Once selected, the candidate starts a WordPress-specific training course for 20 hours a week, and the other 20 hours of the week they are in their internship.
You have an Apprentice Program. How is it different from SkillBridge and when does it start?
Our Apprenticeship Program is run through the states of Oklahoma and Texas. The apprenticeship program will be similar to SkillBridge. The main difference is the service men and women are no longer in the military, therefore not receiving their pay or benefits. We are still working out the details of what this fully looks like. However, we are hopeful to have this program ready by the end of August 2022.
Wrapping it up
You can learn more about WP Connects at their website, wpconnects.com. You can also follow WP Connects on Twitter.
Thank you Talisha for taking the time to answer some questions about your new project.
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