This changemaker’s mold-breaking attitude in a red-tape world inspires us. Ellen Anderson will be joining us next week in Los Angeles from Minnesota, where she uses her digital media savvy in the halls of the Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul. Ellen is a lapsed architect with a passion for finding ways to improve lives through the intersection of design and public policy. Upswell sounds like just the place for her interests and expertise, and we’re so glad she’ll be joining us for it. Check out this Q&A with Ellen before you find her next week in LA!
Q: Who are you, what drives you, what are you working on, and why are you inspired to make the world a better place?
EA: I work in political communications, which I realize is probably listed by some at the very bottom of the list of careers that make the world a better place. 🙂 Even so, I’m inspired to work together with elected officials, staff, and constituents to improve the way our government works and represents each and every one of us. We all deserve effective representation—I hope I can be a small part in making that a reality.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the physical space you work in?
EA: I am one of the lucky few who gets to work in the Minnesota State Capitol—a building with decades of making history for my state and hometown. Its soaring ceilings, massive columns, and ghosts of legislative sessions’ past offer inspiration at every turn. On the hardest days, it only takes a lap of the rotunda to remember why I chose to do this work.
Q: What drew you to a career in the social sector?
EA: I studied architecture at the University of Minnesota, where I learned a lot—especially that I didn’t really want to be an architect. I learned about the importance of communities working together to define their neighborhoods in the intersection of design and public policy. After spending several years as a designer, I chose to move to the public sector in order to use my skills and background at that intersection—supporting policymakers with a background that’s markedly different from the norm among my colleagues.
Q: Upswell is about breaking the mold. What’s one thing you’d like to see in the conversation that doesn’t get enough national attention?
EA: Breaking the mold on your own can be an intimidating thing, but how do you support others and lift them up to break their own molds? I’d love to have conversations about the best ways to share the things I learn at Upswell with my colleagues and inspire some more mold-breaking in a red-tape world.