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 life. I’ve worked with companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500s, to design brand experiences, programs and services that connect and inspire people. But mostly, I just like to be surrounded by smart people who share my enthusiasm to convert ideas to action.
As the founder Drink Tank, a community-powered innovation studio, I bring people together to co-create, collaborate and make the world better, one neighborhood at a time. My work has helped to drive social impact and create strategic business opportunities for clients including Grubhub, Goose Island, Braintree, LeoBurnett and Betabrand.
These days you'll find me in the classroom. I teach Design Thinking & Doing to undergraduates at Northwestern University, and serve as a Faculty Advisor to Business Innovation Labs, a joint offering between the Kellogg School of Management and the MMM program at the Segal Design Institute. I am also on the teaching team for the LEAD program offered through Stanford GSB, where I coach executives to design stories with impact and lead with levity and purpose. I introduced and led immersive courses in marketing innovation for Northwestern IMC graduate students at the school’s San Francisco campus.
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.
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, connect with users, and design ways to grow the business together.
What I do:
Design and conduct user research
Frame strategic opportunities
Prototype, test & refine concepts
Anchor solutions in user needs and business context
Communicate the innovation story to internal and external audiences
Develop a roadmap for innovation across the company
And guide internal teams or student groups to do all of the above
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 did a half iron man! It was 15 years ago… but STILL! (I even managed to outrun the slow-moving ambulance behind me.)
When I was a volunteer in Nicaragua I dreamed up and pulled off a fair for more than 400 orphaned and abandoned children. I hitched-hiked to Managua (please don’t tell my mom) to get the materials to build a dunk tank, a plastic tarp slip-and-slide, and other fair games, all on a budget of $250 USD.
I illegally crossed the Costa Rican border because I thought customs was the line for the bathroom. (I was eventually returned by men with guns.) Everything is obvious in retrospect, I guess.
During my single years in Chicago (there were lots of them) I wrote a 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 was lucky enough to join a Google expedition to Everest Basecamp. It was beautiful, and it was life-changing. And I still smell like yak dung.