Meet Our People

Natalie Gardner

Executive Assistant and co-leader of the Coalition employee resource group

Natalie Gardner joined Pure as a receptionist and quickly created a network, connecting with everyone from customers to C-level executives. Now she’s an executive assistant and co-leader of the Coalition employee resource group.

What is Coalition’s mission?

Natalie: Coalition’s mission is to advance Pure’s efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive employer. Coalition initially focused on Pure’s Latinx and Black and African-American groups, but we later realized that we have significant Asian and Pan-Asian groups that weren’t as visible or vocal at our events. So we worked to expand in that area, and now we have a leadership board and several councils, including Pan-Asian, Latinx, and Black and African-American.

To share a sense of what we’re all about, earlier this year we held a seminar so people could learn more about Black Lives Matter, and we also held an intersectionality event for Pride month focusing on people of color and the transgender community. These were great opportunities, not only for people who identify, but also for those who want to be allies. We also collaborate with other Employee Resource Groups, like Pride or Women@Pure, to clarify boundaries and have the hard conversations that really help move us forward.

How did you get involved with Coalition?

Natalie: When I was still a receptionist, one of the founding members reached out to ask if I was interested in joining the Coalition team. I thought, why not? It ended up being one of the best decisions I've made. I went on to become a co-lead, something I never imagined I would do.

Why is the work you do with Coalition important to you?

Natalie: In my professional life, I’ve hit walls. People have told me my hair wasn’t “correct” or my tone was off, or even that my outfit was all wrong. I grew up in a town where I was the only black girl in every class—I was always the one that stuck out.

When I came to Pure, I was scared it would be a repeat of my past experiences. But the culture here is so different. I’ve found a safe place where I can really express my personality and my style—I wear my hair natural now. The comfort to truly be myself, with no shame, has changed how I work every day. And my main goal both in my regular job and through Coalition is to provide that feeling of belonging to others, to help people build roots. 

I’ve also seen firsthand how creating welcoming spaces can have a profound effect. When I was 18, my sister, also a woman of color, came out as a queer—and my dad came out as gay. That was a major disruption for my family. 

But through that experience, my mom started an amazing personal journey. She went back to school and earned her master’s degree. Today she’s a medical social worker. My dad has flourished living his own truth, and my sister has developed into an amazingly strong woman, working as an assistant dean while getting her Ph.D. My brother has been an incredible support for us as well as his own family. Creating space for people to become their true selves serves everyone. I want to help create that at Pure.

Do you see challenges at Pure that Coalition can help address?

Natalie: Pure hires a lot of people from diverse backgrounds. I want to not only focus on how we get the right people to join Pure, but also how we get them to stay even longer. Coalition has been working with HR and the diversity and inclusion initiatives to examine this in more detail by looking at our own experiences: Why have we chosen to stay here? Were there things that almost made us leave? We want to communicate our findings to each other and with hiring managers and the peers of our future new employees.

What’s your favorite Pure perk?

Natalie: All the free snacks!

Favorite podcast?

Natalie: Every Thursday I listen to The Read, which I absolutely love. It’s hosted by two fierce queer black people who are just amazing.

If you could have lunch with anyone in history, who would it be?

Natalie: I would invite the Obamas, Kanye West, and Amy Poehler—I love her so much. I’d ask Kanye what’s really going on with him, and he could play us some music after our meal.

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