BostonTalks: From the Ground Up

THU, JAN 19, 2017 (1:04:17)

Host Edgar B Herwick III opens the floor to four local women who are helping to build a better Boston. Liz Pawlak, the Vice President of Design Museum, is using education to benefit design throughout the city. Sumia Hussain, the US Partnerships Coordinator at MassChallenge, promotes innovation through public-private partnerships, social impact, clean energy and water innovation, and inclusive entrepreneurship. Sheena Collier, the Boston Promise Initiative Director at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, calls herself a social broker, and connects people across beliefs, communities, organizations, and sectors. Megan Amaral, the Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, uses the fun of Legos to innovate design to Boston buildings. (Photo:Flickr/allenran 917)

+ BIO: Liz Pawlak

Liz is the VP of the Design Museum Foundation. She has a background in architecture and a passion for design. Her goal is to elevate design through education and her work with the Museum is constantly upholding that. Liz places real value on clear communication and thoughtful design. After earning a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University, Liz went on to work as a Designer at Payette for five years. She worked on laboratory and healthcare projects that ranged in scale from a room to an entire University. Her expertise in workplace culture and education stemmed from her time as the co-chair of Payette’s Young Designers Core (YDC), where she developed unique educational opportunities within the firm. Since, she has presented on such topics as, Developing Young Leaders and Generosity in the Workplace and the Future of Design in Boston.

+ BIO: Sumia Hussain

Sumia Hussain is obsessed with helping good people do great things. Working at MassChallenge, the world’s most startup-friendly accelerator and competition, Sumia equips and empowers high-potential and high-impact entrepreneurs, problem solvers and innovation ecosystems to build capacity. Her area of focus is managing relationships with foundations, corporate foundations, government and quasi-governmental organizations. Sumia specializes in public-private partnerships, social impact, clean energy and water innovation, and inclusive entrepreneurship. An Honors Scholar from the University of Connecticut, Sumia studied public health, human rights and political science. During her undergraduate experience, she also spent a summer studying microeconomic development and social entrepreneurship models in Guatemala, and founded several student organizations focusing on furthering social impact, international development, and creating inclusive environments on campus. Sumia’s pride and joy was leading UConn Empower for four years with over 100 students and spearheading project-based consulting to non-profits in Cameroon and India. Sumia was honored with the award for the University’s highest level of student leadership and involvement. In her free time, Sumia currently serves as a Boston delegate for City Awake, a nine-month interactive platform designed to mobilize and empower young adults to become valued stakeholders in the civic dialogue of Boston and beyond. Although she is not artistic at all, Sumia is an organizer and emcees the Boston chapter of Muslim Writers’ Collective with tasteful and self-deprecating humor.

+ BIO: Sheena Collier

Sheena Collier is a social broker - connecting people across beliefs, communities, organizations, and sectors. She has served as the Boston Promise Initiative Director at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Roxbury for the last 3 years; leading one of 12 federally-funded Promise Neighborhoods in building a continuum of academic, family, & community supports, with schools at the center. She has served in the role of community organizer, project manager, partnership builder, and team leader for a number of organizations over the past 12 years. Her career and volunteer experiences have focused on developing and implementing high-quality programming and policies for girls and women, children and youth, and schools and communities. Sheena is originally from Albany, New York. She received her BA in psychology from Spelman College and her Ed.M. in risk & prevention from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

+ BIO: Megan Amaral

Megan Amaral’s dream job came true on September 26, 2015 when she beat out three other finalists to win the position of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston Master Model Builder at Brick Factor. Brick Factor is an open call event for the area’s best LEGO® builders with the winner getting the coveted LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston Master Model Builder job. Having competed in the first Brick Factor in 2014, when she didn’t get the position, Amaral applied to be a Duty Manager at the new LEOGLAND Discovery Center Boston when it opened in May 2014. She served in that position until winning the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston Master Model Builder title last year. Building with LEGO® brick was nothing new to Amaral. She’s worked at The LEGO Store as a Brick Specialist and served as an instructor for Brickapalooza, a company that teaches students science and engineering concepts using LEGO® bricks. With a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Amaral worked at Paul Lukez Architecture for a year before deciding she was more interested in a career where she could use LEGO® bricks on a daily basis. Using her architecture background, Amaral sees the construction of each build and model like she would for a building or structure. Whether using directions or free building, Amaral thinks about how the bricks fit together in order to make the most stable and interesting build possible. In what has been deemed one of the “coolest” jobs in Boston, Amaral spends her days building models for events, updating MINILAND®, the tiny version of Boston landmarks built entirely out of LEGO bricks, interacting and helping guest build models and overseeing the Creative Crew, a junior panel of local children who advise LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston on events and try out new features of the attraction. Originally from Sturbridge, MA, Amaral currently resides in Stoneham with her husband.

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