Valeria Villanueva

The Women Entrepreneurs and Innovators at Yale on Tuesday hosted National Public Radio’s creative director in digital media, Liz Danzico, who spoke at multiple events on campus, including an hourlong public event in the evening, during which she discussed her career in design and technology.

Danzico’s visit to campus was sponsored in part by WE@Yale, a new initiative which aims to increase the number of women across Yale who launch projects or ventures. During her Tuesday visit, Danzico spoke at a breakfast for women and femme-identifying individuals, and she later met one-on-one with School of Management students before speaking at the public event — which was moderated by Ariel Hudes SOM ’18 — in the evening. Co-founder of WE@Yale Jennifer McFadden said the group was “super excited” to host Danzico.

“She’s a designer and the creative director of NPR, [and] her job touches on HR, operations, on creative content on everything, so she really has this broad organizational view of how to run a 21st century fast-moving creative organization that is very valuable,” Hudes said. “And then, something that was a great surprise to me today was that she was willing to engage with me and with my classmates who are also founding ventures at SOM in a very tactical level about our projects.”

During the public event, which was attended by 20 students and faculty members, Danzico discussed the transition from running her own studio for seven years to working as part of large teams at NPR and the School of Visual Arts in New York. She said that learning to mobilize a large group of people took some adjustments but that she now could not “imagine working another way.”

Since 2009, Danzico has served as the chair and co-founder of the Interaction Design MFA program at the School of Visual Arts. The graduate program is designed to encourage students to think creatively about product design — a point Danzico emphasized throughout the event.

“How do you make something and put it out into the world so people can talk with you about it?” she asked the audience. “How can you talk to someone about something if you’re not speaking the same language? So making something helps you and attracts you to people, we put this thing out in the world and let it attract the conversations it wants to attract.”

Danzico stressed that, in her capacity as the creative director of NPR, she needs to be able to communicate specific ideas to different people across the organization, as well as help others figure out how to communicate their own ideas effectively.

“How to inspire people to have this culture of making is what takes up a large part of what I do,” she said. “It’s generative in a different way. It’s creating the possibility for being generative.”

The tech and design expert also spoke to the importance of following a passion, saying she sometimes spends more time developing her side projects than on her full time job.

Jessica Alzamora ’18, who attended the event and is part of Design for America, which focuses on approaching social service projects through human centered designs, said she was encouraged by Danzico’s talk.

“A lot of what was talked about today was about design and side projects, and I think Yale culture focuses on clubs and doing things outside of school and [the event] spoke a lot to that and to being creative and how to focus on the user when designing and thinking and being creative about things,” Alzamora said.

Rachel Carp ’19 agreed that Danzico’s express support for side projects was “a cool thing to encourage.” Carp, who produces podcasts and is interested in working at NPR, said that hearing Danzico speak fuelled her curiosity about how “design intersects with podcasts in the newsroom.”

Danzico emphasized that a multidisciplinary approach is useful when creating tools to connect and help people, and that her work builds on what those before her have achieved.

“We are all learning from each other, it’s a matter of keeping your eyes open and evolving from there,” she said.

WE@Yale was launched last month with the support of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale as well as the School of Management.

Chloe Glass | chloe.glass@yale.edu