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The Nine 2021: Jennifer Steinhardt

 Jennifer Steinhardt, SCN: The Nine 2021
(Image credit: Future)

Title: AV Account Manager and Marketing Specialist

Company: Audio Visual Associations

Location: Denville, NJ

Social: @NerdyGirlAV

Overtime: Steinhardt is an advocate for mental health and diversity. She has a mental health podcast, and is an active member of the AVIXA Diversity Council.

Why You Need to Know Her: Strong, beautiful, brave, candid, and open are words that have been used to describe Jennifer Steinhardt. The 33-year-old hopes to create opportunities for people and make the industry more welcoming for all. Some of you may know her as @NerdyGirlAV on Twitter, and others may recognize her from her podcast The Mental Mary Show, where she discusses mental health, diversity, and her personal struggles with autism, ADHD, and depression. She speaks candidly and believes no one should feel ashamed of their invisible diversities, pointing out that one in 20 people have some sort of neurodiversity. Her personal motto is “Be kind, be strong, and know you are not alone!”

Supporting versus Accommodating: Steinhardt is a proud supporter of the AVIXA Diversity Council, and says the industry is getting better at supporting people with diversities. “Neurodiversity is made for the AV industry because we have the tech to help manage it,” she said. “Accommodations are not what is needed. What’s needed is support for people with diversities. Some roles have been challenging for me, but asking for a shift or alternative solution makes it easier to deal with.”

Steinhardt spoke about ways to spread awareness without sharing too much personal information. As an example, she recalled a request for dimmer lighting in an office space. “At the time I did not have an understanding of why,” she said. “It was not until much later on that I had a fuller understanding, and I appreciate that struggle a great deal now. I’m grateful for the AV community and their support. The more we talk about it in a professional environment, the more we can help others shine!”

Band Geek and Sociologist: Like most of us, Steinhardt fell into AV. Her journey began when she made drum major for the marching band her senior year of high school. In that leadership role, she learned about finding ways to creatively teach, connect, and work better together—as well as how to work with different personality styles. That experience led to a master’s degree in sociology, for which her two main areas of concentration were gender identity, and retail relationships between shoppers and staff. She initially intended to use the graduate degree to become a teacher and to advocate for social change, but in a change of plans, the focus on retail relationships gave her insight into marketing and buyer personas that’s invaluable in her current role at New Jersey-based Audio Visual Associates.

Fluent in Software: “I speak software very well. Audio is more of a challenge for me,” Steinhardt said. She is grateful to work for a smaller, more agile company that does quality work. “Supporting people is what is important, and tech is the enhancement,” she added.

As for the future, Steinhardt plans to earn CTS certification, eventually CTS-D as well, as she sees herself in an engineering or programming function. “Ultimately I’d love to shift into more of an engineering role. That’s the path I see for me!”

Get to know the rest of The Nine 2021.