20 Under 40: Maressa Surrett

Director of Technology and Digital Solutions
International Society for Technology in Education

Age: 38

“Maressa gives unceasingly of herself to her community. However, she is not one to take credit or to seek approval or gratitude for her work. Instead, she works quietly behind the scenes ensuring that every detail is managed, that the team’s needs are met, and that the goal is at the forefront of the organization’s collective mind. She seeks to bring people together for a common cause and does so with wit, intelligence, and compassion that results in improved outcomes for all she helps.”

Celeste Edman, Lunar Logic


As director of technology and digital solutions for the International Society for Technology in Education, Maressa  Surrett leads day-to-day management of the IT department and advises the executive team, while also leading web development, digital experience and data teams, and bridging visual design and programming. Surrett has a second identity in the music industry. She started a regionally-recognized record label and was a DJ mentor for young, female DJs. As a volunteer, she creates music for Eugene yoga studios. She also has volunteered for Friends of Trees and is a member of the Pacific and Asian Community Alliance, Oregon Asian Council board member and volunteers for the Oregon Asian Celebration.

Get to know them

Q: How has your community involvement impacted your work and life?

My community involvement and desire to take part in volunteer work began when I was 15 years old. I saw great value in what I could learn through volunteerism. It allowed me to begin exploring career opportunities early and taught me the importance of giving back to the communities I grew up in. I knew then, that community involvement would be a life-long venture.

Community involvement has given me a strong sense of purpose and appeals to my natural state of being a giver. It has allowed me to build incredible skills of collaboration, problem-solving, leadership, and leaves me with a feeling of happiness and humbleness. I have acquired life skills, and knowledge, which I can pass on to younger generations within the community. These all have contributed to who I am as a leader in the workplace, and in life.

Engaging with the community thrusts me into being an active community member. This has a long-term impact on knowing that I am a part of a positive movement within society. In early 2018, I joined a relief organization, www.trekrelief.org. As a group, we raised over $20,000 to be used for medical and school supplies in Nepal. We purchased the supplies in Nepal, and hand delivered them to a community in great need. This has forever changed the lives of some of the kindest, and humble individuals I’ve ever encountered. This incredible experience of giving back was a concrete reminder to embrace and appreciate the simplicities in life, and what can be accomplished through solid and organized teamwork, and collaboration.


Q: How would you describe yourself as a leader?

I’m a focused and results-driven leader, highly motivated to reach the goal post. I want to continually improve the process and seek opportunities for enhancements and efficiencies. All of which may emerge during the lifecycle of a project. I’m passionate about technology, marketing, and digital experience. I’m genuine and possess a high level of integrity in aligning with organizational needs and strategies. The challenges these can solve for people and organizations is powerful. Take for example the use of automation for communications, the roll-out of a customer-relationship management system (CRM) for lead capture, and business intelligence applications for efficient enterprise decision making. All of which I have been involved in implementing and leading.

I am an advocate for regular professional development and consider myself a lifelong learner.  I advise and encourage those on my teams and working around me to take advantage of professional development opportunities. I believe strongly, especially working in the technology space that my success hinges on the frequent learning and training that I proactively engage in. Each year I set at least one new professional development goal, and I read about 20 books a year, in addition to webinars and classes.

I value input and feedback from team members, colleagues, stakeholders, and my mentors. And I will provide expertise and guidance in my areas of responsibility to be the best partner and leader to those around me. With that said, mentorship is a priority of mine. I encourage the team members which approach me and know what they want out of a project, or their career. I enjoy coaching and developing others, based on their strengths, experiences, and goals. Relationships are typically the key to the success of a goal or project, and for this reason, I place a lot of value on them.


Q; How do you hope to develop your career trajectory?

My career has been centered around technology and web development since 2000, and I spent 8 years of this time focused on these disciplines within Marketing teams. I often overlook the journey, favoring the destination or goal. I think it is important to pause and reflect while maintaining a forward momentum. Enjoying the ups and downs, on the path of travel towards the destination, has been one of my greatest lessons.

I think it should be a priority for everyone to look ahead, both in the short term, and long term. While it may be difficult to clearly visualize what we want, putting some definition on a vision has served me well. Having a solid plan, and mentors have given me the boost when I have needed it the most.

I am enthusiastic about technology, marketing, and a good cause. Technology brings about opportunities to solve problems in endlessly evolving ways while keeping me challenged. This is highly motivating for me. Marketing and its increasing synergies with technology is fascinating, and I can’t wait to see over the next handful of years how the ideation of MarTech continues to emerge. Marketing has provided a beautiful union with the creativity it brings, alongside my technology background. I see myself continuing down the path of technology, partnered with marketing, in increasingly challenging leadership roles.