Connecting with the Community

Beyond Pasadena’s tree-lined streets there’s a bustling network making things happen.

Claire Slattery is the Director of Performance at Speechless

I have been drawn to Pasadena for some time now. As someone who grew up in California’s Bay Area, Pasadena has always felt familiar to me; hints of the Oakland hills, walking corridors like that of Alameda’s Park Street, and the educated, yet down-to-earth crunchiness of Berkeley. I’ve never had much opportunity to go to Pasadena for work, but had always wanted to spend more time there.

The timing then was perfect when I learned of Innovate Pasadena’s (IP) upcoming Connect ’17. The organization was just starting to open its applications for interested event producers and contributors. I answered the universe’s beckoning and immediately requested a meeting with the IP team. Being a Los Angeles resident (your lowly neighbor to the south), the IP team took pity on me and generously put me in touch with Pasadena-based partners with whom I could collaborate on Connect ’17 events.

Before Connect ’17 officially began I attended an IP Collaborator Luncheon in Pasadena. I distinctly remember the room abuzz with open, welcoming individuals…all chowing down on, honestly, the best catered lunch (bento boxes) I’ve ever had at such an event. But beyond the fantastic combination of boxed flavors, there was an intermingling of interests, callings, passions all gathered in one room. It felt special being invited and included in something social before the Connect ’17 series began. I was able to form relationships that very day with the innovative, creative members of the Pasadena community.

Fast forward to Connect ’17. The first of two events was “Designing on Your Feet: Improv and the Creative Process.” Together with Innovate Pasadena — Design X, we hosted an interactive session where designers could learn, practice, and come away with new shorthand tools. Tools designed to help them more effectively collaborate, communicate, and champion their unique value add. It was a gorgeous day at the Pasadena Museum of History where approximately 30 community members showed up to experience an afternoon of active skill acquisition. The participants in the room were up to the challenge of trying exercises out of their comfort zone. In addition, it was a diverse crowd featuring individuals of different perspectives and backgrounds. This composition made the work even more rewarding for me and the individuals in attendance. At the end of our event, many participants came up to me afterward and thanked me for such an engaging and interesting session. I was so glad I could share Speechless’ Improv Thinking approach with members of the Pasadena community. However, I cannot understate nor take credit for the delicious cookies that were provided by Chuck Chugumlung of Innovate Pasadena — Design X. His was a crucial contribution!

The second event was hosted by Supplyframe and was a partnership with StartUp Grind of Greater Pasadena titled “The 3 Ps of Impactful Pitching.” It was an evening fireside chat conversation with StartUp Grind Director Aaron B. Wheeler and myself where we discussed the 3 Ps of Impactful Pitching: Preparation, Performance & Positivity. The conversation was followed by a Q&A and hands-on learning experience. Attendance at this event was, unfortunately, diminished by the Dodgers World Series game. The irony and timing of our event title was not lost on me. (Pitching…get it?) The night was a success in that shared ‘ah-ha!’ moments gave individuals the tools and techniques to make them more efficient, effective, and enthusiastic about pitching.

From the fantastic guidance and support of the IP team, to conversations with community innovation leaders I met at the IP Collaborator Luncheon, to the starting of relationships with Design X and StartUpGrind, I wholeheartedly enjoyed my Connect ’17 experience. IP really met its goal of helping community members (even adjacent ones!) network and connect to other like-minded people working on innovative and creative community solutions. Our Speechless logo is a Venn diagram and Connect ’17 truly helped me to find my overlap within the Pasadena community.

Speechless is a San Francisco-based company whose mission is to make public speaking more fun and less scary for everyone. To learn more about Speechless’ approach, current clients, and to work with Speechless visit

Originally published at on December 31, 2017.

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