From Mastering CSS to Deciphering Complex Data


Born in Portland, Oregon, on February 1, 1982, Laura Pelofske grew up as the curious daughter of a Horticultural Scientist with a strong affinity for Fine Arts. During her childhood years, she took weekend classes at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Painting, Drawing, Art History, and Expression through Multimedia. She held multiple jobs from the age of 15 through 23, in retail, service, and customer relations. It was through these jobs that she learned to take initiative in order to be recognised for her efforts.

Choosing a field

In 2000, Laura’s interests ranged from Environmental Law to Book Arts, but she found her niche when tinkering around on her first website between school obligations. She wrote it line by line in a text editor. While it was popular at the time to use web development tools like Dreamweaver, and she learned about them in college, Laura was always most comfortable scripting on her own. By the year 2002, she already found tables cumbersome and welcomed the approach taught by Eric Meyer to take all the layout and style out of the HTML.

After graduating from The Art Institute of Portland with a BS in Multimedia & Web Design, Laura pursued a career path on her own, to complement her decision to have children and stay home with them in their formative years. She built websites for small businesses in Portland, finding them through Craigslist, friends, and through a connection to Choose Local. She encountered clients with a variety of needs and picked up knowledge where she needed it as she learned to theme WordPress, X-Cart, and Plone, as well as creating websites from scratch just like when she started.

A move to Engineering

As Laura’s children grew, she had more time to concentrate on the direction of her career, and decided to focus on Web Applications. She found a lead through a friend to apply for a position at Thetus Corporation, a company that needed a person with her theming expertise to make their Web Application visually and experientially consistent.

When Thetus rebuilt their primary application, Savanna, to replace the Flex based predecessor, Laura was ready to learn JavaScript in order to contribute to feature development alongside theming the application in ExtJS. She took the initiative and primed herself through Codecademy’s JavaScript course and hit the ground running. Laura soon earned the title “Front-End Developer” and worked as part of an Agile engineering team. Her manager remarked,

“She has functioned as a go-to person for CSS and design integration. Though we now do not have a role at Thetus for design integration, we still need people with deep knowledge in this area to advise the rest of the javascript developers when they come upon a task which is tricky or beyond their experience. Laura has filled this role competently and enthusiastically.”

Laura took the iniative in other areas as well.

  • Helped the User Interaction Team organize their UI Pattern library, and refactored the internal style guide to echo the application file tree and utilize the Design team’s language in the component classes.
  • As part of the above refactor, provided longevity to the styles by disconnecting them from ExtJS classes.
  • Used wireframes to communicate how the company could leverage Confluence to improve internal communication, with the right organization of content, which at the time was kept in several different locations. The company chose to move all their internal resources to Confluence as a single source of information.
  • Assisted Sales in integrating the company website with Salesforce, pushing contact form results directly to Salesforce leads.
  • Presented at optional Tech Talks on the subjects of Responsive Design and SASS.
  • Successfully prototyped a mobile app that captured image, video, time, and location data and pushed the content to Savanna.
  • Participated in manual and automated testing efforts.
  • Joined the Mentor program and onboarded two junior developers
  • Learned some Java to contribute the REST API when small changes were needed, like adding exceptions and creating endpoints to access user information for authentication in the SAAS environment.

In a world full of apps and startups, Laura hopes to work on projects that are differentiated by their creativity in solving problems, particularly in the area of removing drudgery from people’s lives. When machines handle the drudgery, people are free to communicate, innovate, and push collective growth further than ever before.