Research. Technology. Public Engagement

About

I’m a design researcher and entrepreneur who has worked at the intersection of human rights, social impact and technology for over a decade. I spent 9 years as a researcher and campaigner on a wide-range of human rights and social justice issues, namely refugee and migrant rights in North Africa and North America (Amnesty International) and examining the impact of technology on freedom of expression. Most recently, I was the 2nd hire at Smart Nora, a sleep and health technology company. The research I conducted informed the design of the product, to our communications and marketing of it.

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experience :

  • Remembering Refuge, multi-media and oral histories archive and website, supported by the National Geographic Society

  • Smart Nora, Inc.

  • Amnesty International

  • Research & Insights, Consultant

    • Global Centre for Pluralism

    • Canadian Council for Refugees

  • Together Project

  • ASL19, Social enterprise promoting Internet Freedom in Middle East

  • cStreet Campaigns

  • Africa Middle East Refugee Assistance

+More on LinkedIn


Researcher

  • Leading research initiatives: from conceptualizing research questions, developing plans, conducting secondary research and interviewing experts, to analyzing data and presenting compelling story to stakeholders.

  • Designing, implementing and analyzing primary qualitative research. Experience with:

    • User Interviews

    • Diary studies

    • Contextual enquiry

    • Beta testing

  • Build & plan structure for end-to-end research

  • Facilitate sessions between cross-functional teams to surface actionable insights, regulatory considerations, and marketing.

Project Management

  • Trello

  • Basecamp

  • Slack

  • Google Drive Apps


Education

Languages

  • French | Basic Proficiency

  • Taiwanese | Native Proficiency

  • Mandarin | Basic Proficiency

I’m a multi-disciplinary researcher and strategist who works at the intersections of technology, storytelling innovation and public engagement. I use design thinking to surface insights about people, culture and systems. My analysis and insights have gone into innovating products and solutions in technology, health and public sector services:

  • Innovating consumer technology in the sleep and wellness market

  • Building digital products and services for Internet censorship circumvention technologies

  • Creating custom-crafted campaigns to inspire passion and incite action

  • Business strategy: Taking a product from ideation to prototype, to mass production, designing customer experience & services, and building a company, Smart Nora, awarded by Shopify’s Build a Business, selected by Oprah, carried at Harrods in London, UK.

  • Digital storytelling and public engagement: With grant support from the National Geographic Society, I’m building a multi-media and oral history site of the US-Canada border as told and experienced by people from Central America and Haiti seeking asylum across the continent. My project collaborators are Dr. Julie Young, Canada Research Chair of Critical Border studies in Geography (Lethbridge) and Johanna Reynolds, (ABD), in Geography.

  • Incubating a Community of Practice for Communicating Migration Policies. Strategizing research, leading interviews with experts in business management, communications, linguistics, cognitive behavioural scientists, public opinion specialists, and strategizing next steps to incubate to aid migration policy leaders and refugee integration specialists to improve communications and innovative storytelling.

  • When I'm not at my 9-5, I'm guest lecturing at OCAD University's Graduate course on Human Rights and Design or working on Oral History projects.

Longer story…

Most recently, I led the development of a nation-wide community engagement initiative with the Canadian Council for Refugees. Previously, I worked at Amnesty International Refugee and Migrant Rights division leading its program on preventing deportations. My experience with research and advocacy in the field of migration includes working at Africa Middle East Refugee Assistance in Cairo, Egypt.

In addition, I have advised organizations worldwide on communications and the effective integration of technology to support human rights goals, such as the development of community networks and digital tools to monitor online information controls in the Middle East. I was part of the team that produced and programmed the first live-streamed global conference on human rights and technology on Iran, with panelists including Alan Eyre, the first Farsi-speaking US Representative, BBC Farsi, the Deputy Director of Google.org, and Dutch MEP, Marietje Schaake.

When I am not at my 9-5, I am guest lecturing for courses on Human Rights & Design, emphasizing decolonizing understandings of human rights. This is with the MA in Inclusive Design at the Ontario College of Arts and Design University in Toronto.

Design Thinking Practice

Whether it’s civic design or consumer technologies and services, I bring my experiences from public and private sectors into the work. The insights I seek always strives to understand the broader implications of any product or service, for the people and the larger communities using and experiencing them.

I am particularly interested in civic design and using collaborative and participatory methods, influenced by post-colonial theory, to understand, to explore and to build strategies together for better presents and futures.

Approach

For both civic design and consumer technologies, my approach to design research is rooted in the belief that the design researcher is a facilitator, respectively seeking to understand how peoples’ needs and values interact with physical (buildings, hardware products) and non-physical objects (digital interfaces) and systems. Everything influences our values and preferences, from politics, economics, and race, to gender, history and culture, we are the sum of our experiences. As such, a design researcher must learn to find insights from the most unexpected places and know when to draw from them to help teams make better design decisions.

From my experience building product, I know how insights from design research can address business requirements and people’s needs and how good design can help satisfy both.

I view process and design documentation as critical tools for research, product design and development stages. Not just deliverables for clients, design documentation can provide roadmaps for future innovations.