Four months ago, I published a letter on our blog commemorating our agency’s five-year anniversary. I signed off, “here’s to the next five years.” Life and business can change on a dime, and none of us knew at the time that a very different sign-off would be coming soon. Here it is.
We’ve always known that Casual Astronaut and Highway Twenty share a lot in common — from our client niches (health care, education), to our approach (focused on content marketing, belief in great design), to our values (equality, opportunity, respect for our teams, clients, work, community) — and our teams know each other professionally and personally (Kyle’s kid and my kid went to preschool and elementary school together). We’d talked casually about collaborating in some way, but the right opportunity never seemed to arise, until now.
I can’t imagine a better partner than Casual Astronaut or a better opportunity for my clients and team. Casual Astronaut’s founders and team members are thoughtful, experienced, and wildly talented. Over the past month, we spent many hours together and by phone, talking through goals, values, approach — ensuring alignment and planning our combined future. Each step of the way, I felt more proud and more certain. I am honored that Casual Astronaut chose to invest in my business and combine our reputation and legacy with theirs.
For my team and clients, the work we’ve done, the relationships we’ve built, and the culture we’ve honed will live on and become stronger. Becoming part of Casual Astronaut’s team is an amazing professional opportunity for my team members who are making the move. For our clients, it will mean more capacity, more expertise, fresh eyes and ideas, and even better work.
For me, the future holds another major and exciting change. I’m overjoyed to share that I’ll be shifting back into international development and public health and taking a full time role leading marketing and communications for PATH, an international NGO and leader in global health innovation. There are very few places I’d leave Highway Twenty for. PATH is one. The organization’s work is truly groundbreaking and is focused largely on saving lives and improving health, especially among women and children. PATH works across vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations to develop solutions — like female condoms, self-injectable birth control, a mobile app that monitors donated breast milk, and next generation tools to prevent, detect, and treat malaria and other diseases. I’ve been inspired by PATH’s work for more than a decade, since meeting some of their brilliant team at the 2006 International AIDS Conference. My new team is enormously talented and it’s a privilege to be asked to join them. Taking this role feels like a powerful full circle moment, not only for my career, but also because I’ll be joining PATH’s team in Seattle, my hometown.
I’ve been avoiding writing this letter for weeks now. How do you sign off, for the last time, from the business that you started, named, built, grew, financed, carried, lost countless nights of sleep over — a business that challenged and expanded your career, taught you so much, and introduced you to lifelong friends and peers?
In my five-year anniversary letter I carefully listed and thanked each of our clients, team members, partners, and my closest friends and family. You are all the reason for our success and you each have my deep, lifelong gratitude.
My experience starting, building, and now selling Highway Twenty has been one of the most challenging, and at once, rewarding experiences of my life. And I would do it all over again.
All my gratitude,
— Carla Sandine