08/31/2022

Cupcakes and comedy and community, oh my! Meet Alyson Stoner-Rhoades, operations manager extraordinaire

By Kimberly Mass

decorative image of Alyson baking

Image by Julianne Medenblik

This is a story about cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes—the kind covered with frosting, crowned with sprinkles, and filled to bursting with even more frosting. In this case, the frosting is comedy, the filling is a deep sense of community, and the sprinkles are the spark Alyson Stoner-Rhoades brings to her role as 2A’s operations manager.

Like the first bite of a cupcake—from the side? from the top?—this story could start just about anywhere and still end up somewhere delicious. Let’s eat!

Goodness baked right in

While Alyson grew up cooking for her family, she learned to bake from scratch (croissants and cookies and yes, cupcakes) at her first job at Specialty’s Café and Bakery. She also learned about the food supply chain, sustainable farming, and the joy that comes from sharing quality food carefully made with the wider community.

Alyson’s experience at Specialty’s prepared her for her next position: store manager at Cupcake Royale. There she learned to do, as she put it, “just about everything,” including baking the store’s signature cupcakes. With its focus on sourcing sustainable ingredients, giving back through donation matching, and serving as a community gathering place, Cupcake Royale was a perfect match for Alyson’s growing skills in operations management and community building.

The perfect mix

Following a brief stint with the Seattle Storm where she further flexed her community building muscles (a job she got in part due to her work with the Storm while at Cupcake Royale), Alyson landed at 2A as operations manager. While she makes sure the computers work and the bills get paid, where she really shines is in our company’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts. “I never want people to feel that they’re not supported,” she shared. “Whatever I can do to help people who need a boost is something I’m going to do.”

In the kitsch-en

Baked into everything Alyson does is her wicked sense of humor and love of comedy. From intellectual humor to observational humor to potty humor, she loves it all. In fact, her husband proposed to her right before going to see John Mulaney at the Paramount here in Seattle and a couple of years later surprised her with a signed copy of an album from that tour. “I know it’s cliché, but laughter really is the best medicine,” Alyson said. “There’s magic in humor, and just being silly is beautiful.”

She makes it look like a cakewalk

While there’s also magic and beauty in a perfectly crafted cupcake, it’s the kind of beauty that lasts only for a moment. For Alyson, the operations management work she does at 2A has a much greater and more meaningful impact on her and the team: “Operations just kind of fell into my lap, but it comes naturally to me. I really like helping people and leaving situations better than I found them. People are what make a business, and it gives me real joy to take care of the things they need.”