Kyeasha Ward, Member Services Specialist, embodies the holiday season.
Anyone who knows anything about Kyeasha Ward knows this: “I like to get festive.” Balancing professionalism and care as a Member Services Specialist at the Board of Pensions, she is transformed by decorating for holidays, organizing celebrations, planning weddings … you name it.
“I love everything about event and party planning,” Kyeasha said. “I’ve planned and decorated a lot of parties, and I think I’ve done about 11 weddings.”
Kyeasha feels just as strongly about serving the Board, where she has spent nearly 20 years. More than a dozen of those have been in Member Services, now called Plan Operations. She started out as a temporary employee. “It was really supposed to be a week, but I’m still here,” she said. “I love everything that I do here.”
As a Member Services Specialist, Kyeasha holds various responsibilities. Her assignment sums up this way: Make sure that members’ information is accurately and completely filed with the Board so they are sure to receive their benefits. This can mean a phone call to a member or a presbytery to verify information. Occasionally, she conducts training for Plan Operations team members.
Recently, when a new affiliated employer joined the Benefits Plan, Kyeasha managed all aspects of enrollment for the 140 newly eligible employees. That included monitoring benefits elections and tracking the necessary dependent documentation.
Around this time of year, the holiday spirit and Kyeasha’s love of the festive meet. She organizes holiday decorating for the Plan Operations team, but she also runs the Board’s annual food drive and Toys for Tots campaign. Kyeasha helped with the drives when she first arrived at the Board, but she’s run them solo for more than 15 years. She contacts the charities for annual details, arranges for donation bins to be placed in Board stairwells, and then reminds staff that they are there. Sometimes, she even drives the donations to the drop-off site.
The spirit of Kyeasha’s grandmother takes hold at Christmastime. “She decorated every year, from the outside to the inside,” said Kyeasha, a native of Philadelphia, where whole blocks light up, competing for the attention of passersby. “People drove onto the street to see my grandmom’s house.”
Kyeasha can be forgiven for decorating only inside (which is good enough for her 7-year-old daughter, Kennedy, thank you). The Ward household is a busy one. Husband Brian makes specialty cakes, including for weddings. (He even made the clothing for the men in his wedding party, but that’s another story). “His very, very first big cake was a Mini Cooper,” Kyeasha said, for Kennedy’s first birthday. For birthday No. 2, he made her an airplane.
“I only taste the cake,” Kyeasha said, adding, “I might make some icing.” Her daughter Brianna, 17, has her own cupcake business — Bre Cupcakes & Treats. And her son? Brian, 21, has a business making balloon columns, arches, and animals for kids’ parties and other festivities, including, of course, weddings. Some of his animals are on the scale of Kennedy’s birthday cakes, like the dinosaur he made.
Both Ward men are self-taught. The elder Brian learned to make wedding cakes from watching Cake Boss, which follows the operations of Carlo’s Bake Shop. The younger Brian picked up the balloon machine his mother bought for a course she took in event planning. “I paid $400 for it and I’m glad it’s still in use 10 years later,” Kyeasha said. (She doesn’t make balloon animals but will deliver creations for her son.)
At the Ward house, festive is a family business, and everyone must work and learn to be independent. And that seems to suit Kyeasha just fine.