Visualizing the Importance of Alumni Giving for Scholarships and Innovation

(Above: video of sketchnotes of speakers at Colorado College Across the Country Alumni event)

Scholarships are a critical steppingstone to opportunity to students who don’t have the financial resources to pay for college. Giving capable students the opportunity to get a top flight education doesn’t just help them, it helps all of us by making their skills and passions available to the community. To this end, my alma mater, Colorado College is trying to increase the amount of scholarships it can provide to capable young people who need financial assistance to attend. I was invited to an alumni event in Denver to use my visual storytelling skills to capture what the college is trying to do to boost investment in scholarships, and to give current scholarship students the opportunity to share the incredible work they are doing with alumni. I created the video above by taking notes on my iPad while students, and the faculty and administrators who introduced them, spoke live to a multigenerational crowd of Colorado College Alumni.

Before and after the talks, I did visual interviews with alumni who attended the event. Talking to them reminded me why I loved my experience at Colorado College so much—-the variety of interests and experiences really struck me.


Here are a couple of CC alumni who are busy making a difference in the world. Angela Cobian is an elected official and community organizer in Denver, and Meghan Holseth is working as graphic designer making communications materials for folks like Angela.


Cristina Garcia grew up in an economically strapped town in Colorado, identifying with her native and Latinx heritage. She was one of the scholarship recipients who spoke at the event. Her involvement in student organizations led her to participate in protests to protect native land out of state and then led her to work to create a more welcome environment at Colorado College for students with indigenous heritage.


In the two years since David Mulcahy graduated from Colorado College he has rapidly climbed the ladder at the mutual fund where he works. Colorado College helped him develop the flexibility and discipline he needed to excel at work in multiple roles.


Professor Jane Hilberry talked about how to help students become change makers through an approach she is developing with students and other CC faculty and staff to give them a structured experience to allow for experimentation and mutual support to take the kind of risks needed for innovation.


Colorado College scholarship recipient Annie Bronfman talked about how meaningful and powerful her learning experience has been, particularly when she and her classmates gave up their cell phones for several days to immerse themselves in the creative process.


Jack Wold, Colorado College Board of Trustees member stressed how important alumni support is to support Colorado College’s well deserved #2 ranking in the US News Most Innovative Schools list.

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The event took place at the History Colorado Center. After the scholarship students spoke, we projected the digital sketchnotes above the mixing and mingling crowd. This was a wonderfully crafted experience that made me proud to be an alum of such a curious, humane, and powerful learning community.

Sidewalk Visual Voter Interviews


I hit the streets with the Catalina Cruz Campaign yesterday. Catalina is running for the 39th New York Assembly seat, to represent the extremely diverse neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst in Queens, NYC.  To see what issues are on Voters' minds, we did visual voter interviews on the sidewalk on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens. I love this interactive form of visualization where I interview people and then reflect what they say into pictures and words. We learned a lot about peoples' concerns. Pedestrian safety was a big one.



Catalina Cruz (left) joined me with some of her volunteers. The voter in Green, Dona Teresa, had a lot of issues she was passionate about. I was proud of this one because it was entirely in Spanish, and I was able to do it! Thanks to Barbara Van Scoyk and Maria Daniels, my excellent high school and college Spanish teachers!


Some issues were wider ones, like treatment of immigrants, and some were hyperlocal, like prostitution under the elevated train in our neighborhood. All in all, it was a very successful event, in addition to learning about voters' priorities, we generated a lot of attention from passers-by, we created powerful collateral that can be used in electronic communications, we projected an innovative and caring image (which in my experience reflect reality as regards the candidate) and we had a great time.

Visualizing Backyard Democracy

 Supporting the candidacy of Catalina Cruz with visual listening

Supporting the candidacy of Catalina Cruz with visual listening

The country is politically energized in these months leading up to Autumn election season. Even local races that normally fly under the radar are getting a lot of attention. My neighborhood (Western Queens) is particularly active---we recently elected Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary, and we have a number of first time female candidates throwing their hats into the ring. I was happy to support the candidacy of Catalina Cruz with visual listening at an event she held in the backyard of the Elmhurst Memorial Hall with dozens of neighbors who reflected the immigrant diversity of our little piece of NYC---Burmese, Colombian, Chinese, old, young, we came out to support a former Dreamer who earned her citizenship and practiced public interest law to make a better New York. Politics is the interface between the community and the government, and I'm happy to be able to support people I think will be effective advocates, like Catalina Cruz.

 The gorgeous mosaic of Queens, NY. Facing the crowd Catalina Cruz (Democratic Candidate, NY Assembly , Margaret Chin (NYC City Council, District 1), Shekar Krishnan (New Visions Democratic Club), and Daniel Dromm (NYC City Council, District 25).

The gorgeous mosaic of Queens, NY. Facing the crowd Catalina Cruz (Democratic Candidate, NY Assembly , Margaret Chin (NYC City Council, District 1), Shekar Krishnan (New Visions Democratic Club), and Daniel Dromm (NYC City Council, District 25).

Colorado College and the Arts Event

Enjoyed making this quick and dirty video out of the sketchnotes I did  at a Colorado College alumni event in NYC. Note, you've got to turn up the volume in the lower right corner to hear the soundtrack. Best seen fullscreen on a tablet or monitor.

The event showcased news about the new Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, as well as a panel about creativity by three prominent NYC based CC alumni, Nancy Nagel  Gibbs, Marc Webb, and Gareth Saxe.


Great view from the 40th floor of the NY Academy of Sciences where the event took place!

Subway Series-Art Opening Featuring Work by Jonny Goldstein and John Kitses


John Kitses and I are going to have a two person show based on our subway sketches at E77 in Jackson Heights, Queens. The opening is 6-9PM on March 16. Come celebrate art and the NYC subway system with us! E77 is a creative space in Jackson Heights which combines art gallery, music venue, and restaurant/cafe. The owners are architects, and one of them is a painter, so it's set up to display visual art. 

We're calling the show Subway Series. In this case, it's not a series of baseball games between the Mets and the Yankees, it's a series of artworks based on drawings of people on the New York Subway. 

John and I use different approaches. He starts sketching in pencil, and then lays ink down over the graphite. I work directly with ink, using whatever marker I've got with me. Above is a sample of John's pencil sketching.

I'm going to color prints of my drawings and collage them onto painted textured canvas. John will be showing his inked sketches.

RSVP at the Facebook event here.

Bonus: My birthday is a few days after the opening so I'll be celebrating that too1