Hi, I'm Kate.
 
 

Left-Handed
Right-Brained Human-Centered

 
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I design and execute strategies that drive innovation, build community and help brands bring their purpose to life.

I’m a creative who finds beauty in measurement (just give me a Venn diagram, and I’m happy to take my seat in the middle). I’m also a social alchemist who finds joy making connections between people, ideas, and the resources necessary to bring ideas to fruition. I’ve led innovation sessions for companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500s, to develop and execute strategies aimed at launching new products and services, expanding market penetration and driving revenue and profitability. 

But mostly I like to be surrounded by smart people who share my enthusiasm to convert ideas to action. I co-founded Drink Tank, a pop-up design thinking innovation studio, to bring people together to co-create, collaborate and invent new solutions to familiar problems in a single evening. My work has helped to uncover insights and strategic business opportunities for clients including Braintree, LeoBurnett and Betabrand. We worked with Goose Island to re-think brand activation by creating "community pairings" in local markets. Our Parties with a Purpose got Chicagoans writing love letters to Lake Michigan in partnership with Alliance for the Great Lakes, designing green infrastructure with the Trust for Public Land in Oakland, creating a community art installation with local chefs, farmers and artists in Madison, and redesigning the lobster trap with designers, artists, engineers and scientists in Portland, Maine. (We made a nifty video recap you can check out here.)

These days you'll find me working with the talented team at Welcome Industries, an innovation studio founded the Designers in Residence at Segal Institute of Design at Northwestern. I work with clients across sectors to build and strengthen a culture of innovation. I'm am an Adjunct in human-centered design at Medill IMC and the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern. I've also served as design coach and instructor with The Experience Institute

I’m a Maine native, SF expat and global citizen, but Chicago is home. I'm a graduate of Brown University and received a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and Digital Media Management from Medill/Kellogg. In middle school I won the principal’s award for Pleasant Manners. (I know it’s rude to brag, but I just thought you should know.)

I’m a collector of good stories and great people, and I’m always interested to collaborate with bold thinkers, thoughtful leaders and creative innovators. Drop me a line, I look forward to meeting you.

 
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What I think: 

I believe that solving problems doesn’t need to be painful, and that sometimes an “ah-ha moment” is really a series of small discoveries, subtle indicators and validations from unlikely sources. And while strategy comes from the top down, game-changing insights often come from the bottom up. Companies need to create and protect a space in the middle: A time and place for multi-disciplinary teams to come together to collaborate, design ways to grow the business, improve the customer experience, make an impact, and feel heard.  

Companies who engage me say things like:

  • We know we need to foster a culture of innovation, but how do we start?

  • Engagement has plateaued: How can I energize the employee and customer base in a fresh way?

  • Our teams are siloed, we need to to create more open collaboration across the company.

  • Traditional focus groups aren’t cutting it: We need a new way to gain actionable customer insights.

  • I wish we could get a pulse-check from our internal stakeholders and customer base to ensure we’re on track before we continue to invest

 
 

 

 

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A chronology of relentless optimism:

We're all a culmination of our life experiences, often the ones you won't find on LinkedIn. Here's a highlight of some of mine: 

  • I worked for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games. As a member of the speed skating production team I helped manage long track logistics, live audience experience and broadcast. If you watched on TV and heard “Going for Gold” play twice in the background by mistake and you were like, “Awesome, I love that song!”, you’re welcome! That was me!
  • After my stint at the Olympics I headed to San Diego to work craft services for the Body By Jake infomercial. I loaded up my Jeep with bagels, skittles and peanut M&Ms (all the most delicious food groups), but apparently the fitness models were not impressed.  I was not asked back.
  • I successfully completed the Narragansett Half Ironman. (I even managed to outrun the slow-moving ambulance behind me.)
  • I dreamed up and pulled off a fair for more than 400 orphaned and abandoned children during my six months as a volunteer in Nicaragua. I rallied teachers, administrators and volunteers to participate and help me build a dunk tank, a plastic tarp slip-and-slide, and other games, all on a budget of $250 USD.
  • Once, when I was crossing the border to Costa Rica, I passed a long line that I thought was for the bathroom. Turns out it was customs, and I had illegally entered the country (only to be returned hours later by men with guns). Everything is obvious in retrospect.
  • During my single years in Chicago I maintained an anonymous comedic dating blog. At its peak I averaged 15,000 unique visits per month, and 5 free dinners per week with men whose moms still do their laundry.
  • I joined a Google-sponsored Everest expedition. We climbed to basecamp and the next day I summited Kala Patthar (because it was there, and I was close by). At 18,000 feet you wouldn’t believe the views: I saw stars, even with my eyes closed!
  • I’m an Auntie to two of the cutest patooties you’ll ever meet. (It’s a scientific fact.)

I also like to tell stories, sometimes on stage.