I've played hard - and worked hard - my whole life.
I grew up in Washington, DC and spent my childhood playing all kinds of sports. At Harvard, I had the good fortune to have amazing mentors, combined with an extraordinary education and a rigorous introduction to service learning. Plus, I got to play rugby!
After college, I ran Harvard's Public Service Program for a year, taught swimming in remote communities along the Kuskokwim River in Alaska, and even worked briefly as a socially responsible stock broker. At age 23, not knowing any better, I launched the Museum of Children's Art, building interactive spaces where children and their families create, share and connect through art.
At 31, while pregnant with my oldest, I launched Playworks after an encounter with a principal who was frustrated by her recent experience disciplining three boys who'd gotten in trouble at recess. She was concerned that because of recess, these boys were coming to see themselves as bad kids. I realized that had I not gotten a chance to run around at school every day, I would have had a really hard time succeeding. And I could see how through just a few small tweaks in how school recess was structured, I could deliver an outsized impact on the experience these kids had at school.
Playworks has been my focal point for 22 years, but as our staff grew and the organization took on a life of its own, I felt ready to launch another social enterprise. After spending a year as a fellow at the Stanford d.school, I launched Substantial, a nonprofit that helps improve the substitute teaching experience for everyone. I recognized that substitute teachers were an enormously under-utilized resource who have the potential to deliver real value to students, teachers, principals and parents.
The latest chapter of my entrepreneurial journey has been launching Workswell, a for-profit subsidiary of Playworks that is helping corporations incorporate play, design and storytelling to intentionally design the work experience. . We believe that workplaces are ripe for a new approach to intentionally designing the day-to-day experiences that constitute culture, and that by thoughtfully designing these experiences, they can make measurable strides towards increasing employee engagement AND fostering more creative and productive work environments.