“I’ve always felt for people who don’t have the means or resources to do things for themselves. I try to give back as much as possible,” says Jonathan Sneddon, LAN III administrator for IT@ JH.
For several years following college, Sneddon was homeless in Dallas, and lived on couches and in his car for the better part of three to four years. Then, he moved to Las Vegas to think about the direction of his life. “You wouldn’t think it’s the place people go to retreat from chaos,” he says. “Fortunately, I don’t gamble and I had so many skills I could put to good use: hairstylist, makeup artist, personal stylist, executive assistant to several models, professional photographer, writer, graphic designer…the list goes on.”
When he moved to Baltimore in 2014 for an IT job, he discovered Johns Hopkins and thought it would be a great place to work. Aside from going to college for IT, he only had three months of information technology experience and couldn’t find many Johns Hopkins positions that fit his skillset. When he finally got an interview, Sneddon told the hiring manager that he wouldn’t be disappointed if he hired Sneddon. As a result, Sneddon has been here for almost four years now.
Sneddon is the lead LAN administrator III for nine locations, which he describes as being like a mini project manager. “There are five of us and we all have different specialties; mine are communications and organization and documentation,” he says. “I try to find out which ‘how-to’ documents don’t exist, and then I create them.” Over the past six months, he’s built a repository of 150 documents, including how to connect to printer drives and how to add another mailbox to your Outlook account.
When Sneddon isn’t working, he donates his time to United Way, particularly Project Homeless Connect. “Having been homeless, I understand the necessities that people need, even when all they want is a cellphone,” he says. “When it’s cold outside, I’ll hit up my friends for spare blankets and gloves and go pass them out. I try to give everyone just a little help and happiness so they know it’s not all bad.”
In the LGBT community, Sneddon manages a house of drag queens and co-produces three monthly shows. He also mentors a few other drag queens outside of the shows. “I’m the brains of the operation, and I like to be in the background, which is why IT works for me,” he says. “One of my drag queens is set to release an album in April, and I’m helping to manage the release: marketing, booking, scheduling, press kit… all of that.”
He says when he first started at Johns Hopkins, he really struggled with personal style and fitting into a professional office setting. “I’ve been dressing up in some capacity since I was a kid—makeup, sparkly shoes, jewelry—it’s second nature to me. Polo shirt and khakis are not me in any way, shape or form,” he says. “If you don’t feel comfortable, how can you succeed? My manager was fully supportive and told me that, by all means, I just needed to feel like myself.”
Sneddon is mentoring an intern right now from the Year Up program through Baltimore City Community College. He asked the intern if anyone in his class was working on the things he’s working on in his internship and he said no. “When he talked about the projects I’m having him work on like helping install new printers—his class was blown away,” says Sneddon. “I can only imagine being 19 years old and knowing there are tons of possibilities out there while also gaining the opportunity to achieve those possibilities.”