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Ethnographic thinking—freed from the constraints of the ‘ethnography as tool’ perspective—asks not just what consumers want, but why the organization is solving for that particular challenge in the first place.

Beyond the Toolbox: What Ethnographic Thinking Can Offer in a Shifting Marketplace

















I'm an anthropologist and strategist committed to exceptional product, service, and systems innovation. My experience includes structuring and managing nationwide and global scale initiatives that infuse the entire innovation and design process with awareness of cultural contexts and customer needs. I thrive on systemic challenges and see collaboration as a critical component of impactful innovation. My approach includes adaptive methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative) and a holistic view of innovation that positions insight development at the intersection of four core cultural perspectives: customer, company, stakeholder, and analogous.

I'm a visualizer, actualizer, thought partner, catalyst, life-long learner, and occasional alchemist.

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Background & Experience


Ph.D., Social Anthropology

University of Southern California, 2005

Graduate Certificate, Center for Sustainable Cities


M.A., Visual Anthropology:

University of Southern California, 2000

Graduate Certificate, Gender Studies


B.S., Public Policy and Management

Carnegie Mellon University, 1988,

Minor, Art


Principal & Founder, Filament Insight & Innovation, 2008-Present, Seattle WA

Partner, ethnoworks, 2010-Present, Seattle, WA

Senior Human Factors Specialist, IDEO, 2008, San Francisco, CA

Research Scientist, Intel (Digital Home Group), 2006-2008, Hillsboro, OR

Research Fellow, USC Center for Sustainable Cities, 2002-2005, Los Angeles, CA

Adjunct Professor of Ethnography, California Institute of the Arts, Critical Studies Department, 2003-2004, Valencia, CA




Industries & Clients Served


Intel, Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), SAP, Nokia, Fujitsu-Seimens, Astro


Ascension Health, Kaiser Permanente, Harvard Vanguard, Group Health Cooperative


The Packard Foundation, Los Angeles Jewelry Manufacturers Assn., State of Veracruz (Mexico) Secretaría de Turismo / Univ. of Veracruz

Consumer Goods

Amway, SC Johnson, Whole Foods Market, Kimberly-Clark


Metagenics, Nutrilite


AARP, Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


Department of Energy

Ikaria (now Mallinckrodt)


Pet Health

Pet Care

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International Sites & Focus


Inside/Out: Tech and Place in the Home


Prototyping a Uniquely French Sales Model for Wellness Products


Compartmentalization and Technology; Work/Home Divide and Opportunity Seeking; Designing Green PC’s


Inspiring New Customer Service Interactions


The Role of Class, Religion, & Government in Sales


Post-NAFTA Ecotourism


Reconfiguring Place, Product, and Customer Service: A Prototype Sales Center

Third Places & Technology in Education

South Korea






Ethnographic Practice in Industry Conference

Computer Human Interaction

Human Computer Interaction Institute

American Anthropological Association

Anthropology and Environment

Society for Visual Anthropology

Selected Presentations

Getting Ahead of Appropriation: Ethnographic Thinking and Full-Spectrum Insight” Society for Applied Anthropology Meetings, March 2019

Curiosity, Adaptation, and Storytelling: How to Use Ethnographic Thinking for More Strategic Innovation” Webinar at Ethnographic Practice in Industry Conference website, August 2018

“From What to Why: Inverting the Role of Ethnography in Innovation” Webinar at Innovation Learning Network, August 2018

(with Charley Scull) “Ethnographic Thinking for Wicked Problems: Framing Systemic Challenges and Catalyzing Change” Tutorial at Ethnographic Practice in Industry Conference, September 2016

“How Ethnography Informs Design” Future of Fish: Designing the Future of Sustainable Fishing, July 2009

“Hackers as Healers: Finding Inspiration for Sustainable Technology Design” Exposed: A Design Research Exchange, Phoenix, AZ, March 2009

“'My House Made Me Green,’ or ‘Why I’m not a Treehugger'” American Anthropological Association 106th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 2008

“Green Networks: Shifting Subjectivities and 'New’ Environmental Values” Students and Educators Environmental Discussions (SEED 2) :: Panelist, San Francisco, CA, April 2008

“Hackers as Healers: Finding Inspiration for Sustainable Technology Design” Computer Human Interaction (CHI), Panelist on “Beyond the Hype: Sustainability and HCI” Florence, IT, April 2008

“Dead, Dying and Disabled Technologies: Finding Inspiration for Sustainable Design” Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting :: Panelist on “New Directions in Engaged Anthropology: Technologies, Empowerment, and Sustainability,” Memphis, TN, March 2008

“Bright Green: Social Sustainability and Technology” Sustainable Practices, Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, April 2007

“From Hippy to Hip: Exploring Domestic Praxis in Green Homes” Networking Ecological Footprints Research Team, Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, February 2007

(with Sue Faulkner) “ ‘Why are you taking my picture?’: Navigating the Cultural Contexts of Visual Procurement” Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, Portland, OR, September 2006

“Network Compatibilities: The Internet and the Earth Liberation Front” American Anthropological Association 104th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC., November 2005




Selected Publications

Ongoing: Blog - Ethnographic Mind

2018 Ethnographic Thinking: From Method to Mindset. New York: Routledge Press.

2018 Building an Innovation Strategy from Cultural Insights, EPIC Perspectives.

2015 Beyond the Toolbox: What Ethnographic Thinking Can Offer in a Shifting Marketplace, EPIC Perspectives.

2013 (with Charley Scull) Hook to Plate Social Entrepreneurship: An Ethnographic Approach to Driving Sustainable Change in the Global Fishing Industry. Handbook of Anthropology in Business, R. Denny and P. Sunderland, eds., New York: Routledge Press.

2011 From Refurbish to Renew: The Trope of Healing in Sustainable Technology Design. Design Philosophy Collection Six.

2008 (with Allison Woodruff) A Bright Green Perspective on Sustainable Choices. Computer Human Interaction Conference Proceedings, April.

2008 Green Homeowners as Lead Adopters: Sustainable Living and Green Computing. Intel Technical Journal. Volume 12 Issue 01 Published February 21.

2007 Mapping the Digital Home: Making Cultural Sense of Domestic Space and Place. Intel Technical Journal. Volume 11 Issue 01 Published February 15

2006 (with Sue Faulkner)“Why are you taking my picture?”: Navigating the Cultural Contexts of Visual Procurement. EPIC Proceedings. Sept. 2006, No. 1: 259-270.

2005 (with Meshkati, N., E. Abdi, C. Cooper, J. Finzi, J. Hasbrouck, S. Pahulu, D. Peterson, J. Steele, and V. Todd) Sustainability of the Los Angeles Jewelry District: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Technical, Social, Economic, Safety, Health and Environmental Issues. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, Center for Sustainable Cities.

2005 Primitive Dissidents: Earth Liberation Front and the Making of a Radical Anthropology. Doctoral Dissertation for Ph.D., Social Anthropology, University of Southern California.

2004 Social Sustainability in a Conflicted Lanscape: Alternative Tourism and Collective Farming in Jalcomulco, Mexico. In A Case Study of Sustainability: Jalcomulco, Veracruz. Los Angeles: Center for Sustainable Cities, University of Southern California.

2002 Social Theories of Urban Sustainability in the Developed World. Los Angeles: Center for Sustainable Cities, University of Southern California.