But more about me . . .
General Assembly asked incoming students to its User Experience Design Intensive to describe what brings us to the course.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who know what they want to be when they grow up, and those who don’t. Guess which I am.
I couldn’t even decide on a major. Luckily Goshen College let me combine three minors to graduate, so I walked with a degree in Art, Theater and Religion.
My first job was working as an art handler for the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. At the same time I was creating temporary, site-specific sculpture in public places. These were mostly small-scale interventions designed to surprise and engage passers-by.
In 2002 I took a documentary film course at George Washington University. It started me thinking about the Lumière brothers—filmmakers who documented everyday life at the dawn of cinema. I began making short films with minimal camera movement, live sound and no cuts—another kind of collaboration with people and their environment.
I moved to New York City in 2003 to direct Menno House, a residence and guesthouse in Gramercy that provides affordable housing for students and volunteers. Customer service and project management factored heavily: scheduling and receiving guests, vetting prospective residents, hiring contractors, and acting as housekeeper, bookkeeper and social worker.
In 2009 I became the first communications director for a small historical society in Lancaster, Pa. Rural Pennsylvania was a shock after living in New York, but I appreciated the chance to put a fresh face on local history. We launched new social media sites, upgraded websites and promoted dozens of events around the county’s 300th anniversary celebration. This brochure redesign was typical of the changes I implemented.
As a representative of Global Family from 2013–2015, I promoted the education program of an international relief and development organization. Twice a year my team coordinated with 40 country offices to collect stories from 100 education partners, which we edited and distributed to 2,500 donors in Canada and the U.S. I also made presentations to school, church and community groups across the U.S.
I’ve been working as a freelance photojournalist since 2002. Clients have included the Charles Demuth Museum, Estée Lauder, Mennonite World Conference and the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations. More images and stories are at PhotographerBrown.com.
Here and there I’ve dabbled in other things. The Low Brow Diner, below, was my two-year project to review Lancaster County restaurants — online at lowbrowdiner.blogspot.com. I designed the logo for that project and a few local organizations.
So my interests are . . . pleasantly schizophrenic? Or what my friend Ryan calls “well-proportioned measures of creativity, intellectual curiosity, and cross‐cutting interests.”
I will probably never have the discipline to take a deep dive into filmmaking. I don’t geek out on the latest marketing platform or design software. I walked away from visual art just when I was getting regional shows.
What I enjoy is solving complicated problems in creative ways, and learning the technical skills necessary to do the job well. I enjoy working with a team of people on a project with positive social impact.
User experience design is a chance to pull together my diverse writing, design and customer relations experience on a whole series of complicated problems with positive impacts. I’m looking forward to learning from teammates who bring their own diverse set of skills and experience.