“Ava DuVernay and the Rise of the Auteurpreneur”
American University | March 24, 2018
28th Annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference

This research examined how director Ava DuVernay is changing the Hollywood film industry as an auteur and a businesswoman. She is an “auteurpreneur” who has united her art and occupation to create new economic opportunities for women and people of color at every stage of the filmmaking process, which has directly influenced how marginalized social groups are represented on screen. Critical analysis of DuVernay’s directorial techniques, including framing, voice, pacing, and use of graphics/statistics, as well as her business ventures in production, distribution, and marketing reveal that her creativity is also a source of economic and social activism. This research offers “auteurpreneur” as an original term that illustrates the evolution of the role of the director, which is now defined at the nexus of film, business, and social activism and exemplified by DuVernay and her storytelling.

“Empathy in the Age of Emotional Intelligence: What Businesses Can Learn From Emily Dickinson and Frederick Douglass”
American University | March 24, 2018
28th Annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference

This research explored how empathic lessons inherent in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the nonfiction and fiction of Frederick Douglass can be applied today where emotional intelligence in business falls short of achieving human connection. Authors of the American Romanticism era often critiqued relationships as inauthentic experiences of false facades that hid true feelings, resulting in a blindness and failure to see others truly. This is common in business, where corporate structures encourage managers, employees, and clients to negotiate “value” in a capitalist system rather than have authentic interactions that embody culture and express individuality. This lack of humanness can be remedied by literature, where language, character, scene, plot, and subtext build capabilities for empathy and connection. This research illustrates how the narrative empathy required of Dickinson’s and Douglass’s work can also promote creativity and innovation in business.

“Designing the FuturED Experience”
Design Management Institute | September 29, 2015
40th Anniversary Design Leadership Conference

Experience is who you become in your environment. As a recent graduate of Philadelphia University’s (now Thomas Jefferson University) Strategic Design MBA program, I was crossing into a new phase of my professional career as an innovation strategist for Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, D.C. It was as if by design, the two parallel paths of my journey — education and career — had suddenly merged and become one.┬áThe SDMBA program provided me with an opportunity to grow quickly, if not divergently, and used design principles to help an already creative person understand the complexities of business. The executive-style program used a cohort model comprised of industry professionals that convened every other weekend to design their research and test their abilities in a solo and supporting style of practice. The rigor of work with real clients on style and brand strategies, business model innovations for alternative revenue streams, as well as intrapreneurial ventures within our own companies, contributed to our holistic learning. But perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned was the ability to imagine new futures. Two years of transformational change will have an exponential return on the marketplace. That is the relationship between the Future of Education and the Future of Work. I was lucky to be standing at the bridge between the two. It was where the Future had met itself and said, “I know you. And I need you.”