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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 4 months ago

Standing O: Sara Hale uses technology to help Sea Turtle hospital

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Hale, the co-fouder of Coastal Cloud, provides real-world experience for students.
by: Paige Wilson Community Editor

Sara Hale, the co-founder of Coastal Cloud, an information technology consulting company that’s based in Palm Coast, is one of Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland’s biggest inspirations.

Hale uses cloud-based solutions through her business to help Flagler County Schools students get real-world experience and to foster growth at the Sea Turtle Hospital at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience.

“I’ve always had a passion for marine life, and also boating and being on the water,” Hale said. “It’s what brought us to Palm Coast to begin with.”

“I am not sure how Sara manages it all, but even more perplexing is how she seems to have the time of her life while doing it. I have watched her invest her time, intellectual capital and energy into the interns she has hired and the student portal she has built to give all students in our community work-based experience.”

- MILISSA HOLLAND, Palm Coast mayor

Hale joined the Whitney Lab Board of Directors about four years ago, soon before the opening of the Sea Turtle Hospital at 9505 N. Oceanshore Blvd., St. Augustine. Through her management partner position at Coastal Cloud, Hale has done pro bono work to promote the hospital and help the staff manage and grow its volunteers.

“I’m so impressed with the talent that’s here, and to get to see them in action is amazing,” Hale said.

Jessica Long, the senior director of advancement at the Whitney Lab, credits Sara Hale and her husband (the other co-founder of Coastal Cloud) with the board’s impressive strategy and the hospital’s growth.

With promotion and social media marketing done by Coastal Cloud, about 600 guests were present for the opening of the sea turtle hospital, when only about 250 were initially expected, Long said.

“Not everyone on our board is a business person,” Long said, noting that Hale owns a business. “They come to it with a lot of different backgrounds. [Hale] has really helped us. I’ve noticed in a lot of the meetings, she keeps us very organized and on-task, even though she’s not the chair. … She sets a very good example for her peers.”

Hale’s dedication to education shines through in both her work at the Lab and with Flagler Schools. Coastal Cloud collaborated with the district’s Classrooms to Careers (Flagships) program, which features different focuses of study — from teaching to law and justice to culinary arts to a fire academy — at Flagler County Public Schools, to create an online Classrooms to Careers portal, linking the divide between students and the real-world businesses and organizations around them.

Sara Hale. Photo by Paige Wilson

“The goal is to get our high school juniors and seniors — and actually more of the students — to get work based experiences, whether it’s through job shadowing, an internship, a company tour, a classroom lecture,” Hale said. “But it’s really getting real-life work experience brought to the students to ultimately help them make better choices or figure out what career they want to do.”

As a mother of three children who attend Flagler Palm Coast High School, Hale sees the value in providing additional opportunities to students to jumpstart their careers.

“I think there are amazing kids in this community that need to be shown what options are available for them,” she said.

This spring, Coastal Cloud is hoping to utilize its interns to promote the flagships to local businesses, in the hopes they’ll offer their own services and opportunities to Flagler County students.

Coastal Cloud itself provides internships to teach youth about salesforce.com and other IT fundamentals in a professional setting.

“Last year, we were going to hire three to four interns to sort of help us roll this out, but I was so amazed by all the students we interviewed that we hired all 12,” Hale said.

The business, which was founded over five years ago, is currently looking for new interns for the spring of 2019.

With 150 consultants, Coastal Cloud ready to keep inspiring positive change in the community. Hale said it was built with the idea that employees need to be able to rightly balance work and personal life. The business utilizes video technology for meetings and provides flexible schedules for employees.

“What was important to me when founding it was to create the company that I would have wanted to work for,” Hale said. “I had been in a large IT-consulting company and traveled for seven years straight and that wasn’t very conducive to balancing what other priorities people might have in their lives.”

The business is 44% women, which is above industry standards and is something Hale takes pride in.

Mayor Holland, who is also Coastal Cloud employees, said, “I am not sure how Sara manages it all, but even more perplexing is how she seems to have the time of her life while doing it. I have watched her invest her time, intellectual capital and energy into the interns she has hired and the student portal she has built to give all students in our community work-based experience.”

Paige Wilson won three Florida Press Association awards in 2018 and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2017. Previously, she worked for publications including the Orlando Sentinel and UCF's Pegasus magazine....

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