Hello! I'm Emily. I am a possibility whisperer, an explainer, and a helper. I love complexity, collaboration, a-ha moments, and chocolate.
I'm a UX researcher & designer who loves formative research, product strategy, service design, synthesis, ideation, concept creation, rapid prototyping, and guerrilla testing. I believe strategy, research, design and execution all go hand-in-hand because you can't nail the solution until you really understand the problem, but trying out a solution can be a great way to understand a problem better.
» knows a ton about winter tires because she once considered buying some
» has at least 27 tabs open at all times
» always tacks a fun day onto a work trip
» has friends who worked at the White House and friends who have lived in a van
» hikes over the hill instead of taking an Uber
» says what everyone is thinking
» has that thing that someone needs in her bag
» wears toe shoes
» gives (great?) advice to coworkers
» people constantly ask "how do you know that?"
Experience Designer & Researcher, Strategic Design
Nov 2015 - June 2016
UX Designer & Researcher, Epocrates Search (mobile)
Sept 2015 - Jan 2016
UX Design & Research Graduate Intern
Carnegie Mellon University
Graduate Student & Research Assistant
Sept 2012 - May 2015
Communications & Digital Consultant
Sept 2009 - Sept 2103
Communications & Digital Director
Mar 2004 - Sept 2009
Visit Linkedin for a detailed history
Masters of Design, 2014
Carnegie Mellon University
Communications Planning and Information Design
+ interaction design + behavioral science
Continuing Education Coursework, 2011
Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design
+ sketching + comm design
Continuing Education Coursework, 2009
Massachusetts College of Art & Design
+ industrial design
Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, 2004
+ communications, + ancient greece + social sciences
Visit Coursework page for a detailed history
I've been a researcher and designer all my life, but I didn't get to begin calling myself an official "Designer & Researcher" until fairly recently...
I was raised just outside Baltimore, Maryland. As a child I loved to ride my bike, create artwork and play outside. In elementary school I wanted to be an artist. In middle school, an animator. I attended a visual arts magnet school where sculpture, printmaking and photography were my favorite courses. In high school I developed an extreme sense of duty, and decided that the best way to serve and have impact would be to become a political operative and Navy pilot. I played varsity sports, managed student government, and lead my Navy youth unit.
I chose to attend Boston University for college, and each semester I had a hard time choosing classes because they all sounded fascinating to me. I ended up focusing on political science, communications, and ancient Greece. Imperfect eyesight dashed my fighter pilot plans, but my desire to change the world through political communications remained steadfast. I interned on Capitol Hill, the State House in Boston, and on political campaigns. After class and between work I attended study groups at the Harvard's Institute of Politics and occasionally wrote for the student paper. I landed my first full-time professional campaign job before I even finished college, managing fundraising events and legal compliance on a campaign for Governor.
After graduation I became the rare student who actually puts her political science and communications studies to direct use. I continued to work my way up in the political ranks, working on campaigns and advising legislators on communications, digital, policy, and strategy. In between political stints I served as a communications advisor and website manager for small businesses and non-profits.
After reaching the pinnacle of political campaign work, serving as a key aide on a Presidential campaign for a candidate I really believed in, I was ready for a change. I was tired of always being reactive and playing it safe, and I didn't like the direction in which professional politics was moving.
So I chose to leave a successful career at its apex, and forge a new way forward. I began actively searching for something that would satisfy my drive to make positive impact on the world, while keeping my sanity and optimism intact. While I considered my next big move, I lived as a digital nomad, freelancing while traveling throughout the US and a bit beyond.
As I explored more, it became increasingly apparent that design was my perfect career match. It would allow me to combine my inherent curiosity, creativity, and drive to solve problems, with all I'd learned from my previous work strategizing and crafting messages for an audience. I began to study it more seriously, taking courses at Mass Art and Emily Carr and reading every design book I could get my hands on (Change by Design and Cradle to Cradle were two favorites).
I was extremely grateful to be accepted into Carnegie Mellon University's renowned Masters of Design program in 2012. My studies at CMU focused on interaction design, but I also had a chance to study design strategy to better understand business considerations, and psychology and decision science to get an even deeper understanding of what makes people tick. In my thesis project I looked to bring these three areas of study together, and tackle the kind of wicked problem design for which CMU is famous, using a design lens to explore hiking safety interventions at the Grand Canyon.
That work, as well as a summer spent interning at IBM Design in Austin confirmed that I had made the right career move: I loved collaborating with other smart, creative, and driven people to imagine and make things that matter.
After graduating from CMU I joined healthcare IT disruptor athenahealth, serving as part of their inaugural San Francisco-based design team. Alongside alums from Frog, IDEO, and top agencies I worked to design better digital tools and services for healthcare providers. I served for a year and half as UX designer and researcher for Epocrates, the top mobile app for Doctors. There I worked on projects to increase engagement, developed new features including a search engine, and helped spearhead and manage the app's shift from read-only reference to dynamic, algorithmically-powered tool.
I was then promoted and selected to join the Strategic Design Group within athenahealth. The SDG works on projects that go beyond the traditional bounds of in-house design, and aligns more closely with strategic and organizational work undertaken by firms like IDEO and McKinsey. It combines the outsider perspective and creative design methods of a consultancy, with the in-depth knowledge, commitment, and access of an in-house team. This unique pairing gives the SDG an extraordinary capacity to help Athena identify and prototype the next big software and service business opportunities.
Unfortunately, a change in corporate strategy led to the closure of the San Francisco office where I worked. I decided to take some time off to help out family back east, recharge, and focus on some side projects before diving into my next full-time position.
What's next? You tell me... :)