As my career has evolved, I find that my experiences as an art director/graphic designer, counselor/coach, and writer in the nonprofit sector have come together around a common theme of “information architecture” — capturing and bringing structure and hierarchy to information — in words, visually or both — for maximum clarity, accessibility and communication.
For the past 15 years, I have worked as a consultant to nonprofit and educational organizations including American Public Media, the University of Minnesota, Bush Foundation and Saint Paul Public Schools. Together, we have clarified goals, set strategy, and secured over $10 million from major corporate, foundation and government sources to support local, national and international initiatives.
More recently, I have teamed up with a group of researchers to help them articulate and communicate insights around consumer goods and services for clients like Best Buy, 3M and General Mills. Whether it’s brand strategy, a grant proposal, or new product ideation, the goal and process are the same — what do we want to communicate, and what is the clearest and most interesting/effective way to do that?
I began my conquest for clarity as a graphic designer/art director for Detroit advertising agency, the Ross Roy Group; then, as catalogue art director at Conran’s Design Group (NYC); and then, as art director for in-house publications at Tiffany and Company (NYC).
Later, as part of my early work in the nonprofit sector, I founded and ran Artworks Children’s Foundation, a pilot project designed to build civic, social and philanthropic awareness in children using their artwork as a medium for involvement in social change.
Artworks Children’s Foundation – “Children helping children through art” – young artists donated their artwork; we gave them Artworks Dollars (backed up by corporate sponsorships) and asked them to select one of five children’s’ charitable causes (food shelf, adoption services, clothing bank, homeless shelter and Project Headstart) to which they would like to donate their $$$.
Artworks kids helped hundreds of children in the Phoenix and Cleveland metropolitan areas in need of food, clothing, shelter, medical and educational support as well as provided scholarships to enrichment activities that were otherwise out of reach.
Galleries of the young artists’ work are on display at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and The Cleveland Clinic. The Artworks organization project also provided funding to youth outreach programs at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and the Walker Art Center.
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Counseling (MC) degree from Arizona State University. Professional development activities include coursework in nonprofit management at Case Western Reserve University; educational strategy through Project Zero at Harvard University, Graduate School of Education; and, facilitation through the AIGA at the Minnesota College of Art and Design (MCAD).
Just for fun, I developed what I call a “vanity app” — an iPhone app called ‘Big Bling’ based on a personal interest in faceted jewels that was sparked during my Tiffany days. While I have since discontinued the tech updates and other administration associated with the project, here are a couple details and thoughts on the app and experience:
Big Bling app — The Big Bling app featured six cuts and colors of big sparkling gemstones (diamond, sapphire, emerald, ruby, amethyst and aquamarine) that, when selected, twirled slowly on the full iPhone screen.
The app was initially going to be called ‘Zen Gems’, as gazing upon the slowly turning facets had a calming, mesmerizing/meditative effect. I ended up going with ‘Big Bling’ however, because I rarely pass up an opportunity to use an alliteration, and ultimately, the intent for the whole thing was to be simple, sparkly and fun.
On the experience — As a generally tech-challenged person, I worked my way up the deceptively steep learning curve on this entrepreneurial endeavor with the help of an exceptional animator (found him on YouTube — he lives and works in rural Germany) and a very patient developer/programmer, to ultimately bring the app into the iTunes Store. The venture was a phenomenal, multi-faceted learning experience; it touched on coding, mobile technology, online commerce, networking, and on the fascinating and evolving dynamics of connectivity through the Internet.