Director of Strategic Initiatives, HuffPost
I received my PhD in 2015 from Princeton’s English Department, where my research focused on new forms of dialogue invented in the 20th century and used by writers and filmmakers to ignite social movements – including psychoanalysis and the civil rights movement. In the same year, I launched MK Impact, a consultancy that helps mission-driven organizations to achieve their social impact goals. I have worked with clients across several industries, from Wall Street to digital media. Most recently, I have helped to build the newly formed Impact section at HuffPost. I develop strategic initiatives and partnerships that enable HuffPost to take on long-term editorial coverage of key social and environmental issues.
Along the way, I have also become an evangelist for the relevance and the resilience of the humanities PhD in fields outside the academy. For-profit businesses and non-profit organizations are increasingly recognizing the value and competitive advantage of humanities training as well as the creative resources that training brings with it. Creative and interpretive skills are crucially important for building collaboration across industries and developing innovation, for translating complex ideas in compelling ways and forging unlikely alliances to address large-scale problems. There is a constellation of three skills in particular that my training at Princeton helped to hone: consensus building; knowledge sharing; and multidisciplinary thinking.
Leading precepts for a range of lecture courses at Princeton, on topics as diverse as American cinema and the American racial diet, sharpened my ability to find consensus in discussions of provocative or unfamiliar ideas. Developing my teaching over four years, with faculty and institutional support, gave me the opportunity to test pedagogic methods and, ultimately, best practices and platforms for sharing knowledge with diverse audiences from many backgrounds.
The most vital skill I cultivated at Princeton – and the one I have leaned on the most since – is multidisciplinary thinking, precisely because it creates the enabling conditions for collaboration and innovation.
Princeton has had a strong tradition of fostering and influencing debates in the public humanities. That custom, very much thriving during my time there, made it an ideal environment to discover the versatility of humanities methods and the need for those methods in bringing an integrated approach to tough problems, even those far afield from the academy. One of the great lessons modeled by my advisors and other faculty in the English Department was a fluid approach to method that did not presume fixed strategies or normative interventions for new problems. From my own experience, hybrid and interdisciplinary methods are not just an effective way of addressing new questions, but also fundamental to the value of the public humanities. That same training has often called me to question my own expertise, challenge assumptions, and tailor the process of solving a problem to the unique issues it presents, while remaining open to the creative impetus of contingency and collaboration.