About Us

Jessica Clark, Co-Founder and Director

Clark is an internationally published journalist, researcher, and media futurist whose work connects thought leaders across disparate disciplines. She founded Dot Connector Studio in November 2013.  She also edits Immerse, an online publication designed to spur creative discussion of emerging storytelling. Currently she is a research affiliate at MIT’s Open Doc Lab; previously she held fellowships at USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center and the New America Foundation.  From 2011 through mid-2014, she served as AIR’s media strategist, and a member of the core team for the groundbreaking national public media transformation production Localore. From 2007-2011 she led the Future of Public Media Project at American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact.  Over the past decade, she has developed research and convenings with high-profile universities and national media networks, including NPR, PBS, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, USC Annenberg, and MIT. The co-author of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (The New Press, 2010), she was the Executive Editor at national news magazine In These Times, and has written for PBS MediaShift,  the American Prospect and other outlets. Clark has served as a source and speaker for numerous conferences and outlets—including ABC, NBC, PBS, Newsweek, Voice of America, the BBC, SXSW and multiple NPR stations. She holds a BA/MA from the University of Chicago. Learn more: jessicaclark.com.

Katie Donnelly, Co-Founder

Katie round

Donnelly has collaborated with businesses, nonprofits, universities, and independent media producers to create, evaluate, and amplify projects for social good. Her work is motivated by a passion for how stories create and sustain human connection, with an eye towards how media messages and tools shape relationships, health, work, and happiness. With a decade of experience in content creation and evaluation, she develops effective programs through research, strategic planning, and curriculum development. She has authored numerous engagement toolkits, including curricula addressing social issues including body image, substance abuse, and gender-based violence. Formerly a contributing writer for PBS MediaShift, she has written about the power of media to drive behavior in a range of journalistic and academic publications. Donnelly formerly served as senior research associate at the University of Rhode Island’s Media Education Lab, associate research director at American University’s Center for Social Media (now the Center for Media and Social Impact), and as research associate at Temple University’s Media Education Lab. Learn more: katiedonnelly.net.

Michelle Polyak, Assistant Director

Michelle Polyak is an Oberlin College graduate with a B.A. in Art History. Polyak has previously worked at numerous art nonprofits and galleries in New York and Philadelphia in administrative and operational capacities. Working at Dot Connector Studio is her first foray in the media industry. She is excited to combine her passion for all things media with her administrative background.

Nancy Watzman, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Nancy WatzmanNancy Watzman is an award-winning investigative journalist, researcher, and strategist with a focus on launching data-rich journalism projects on emerging platforms. She has more than two decades of experience doing research, writing, strategy, communications, and policy analysis. Her reporting and commentary has appeared in many leading publications, including Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, USA Today, The Washington Monthly, and she has appeared on NPR, Fox News, and C-SPAN, and other networks. She’s also worked with watchdog and other public interest groups, including the Internet Archive, Sunlight Foundation, Common Cause, Center for Public Integrity, Center for Responsive Politics, Public Campaign (now Every Voice), and Public Citizen. In 2016 she managed the launch of the Political TV Ad Archive, a collection of 2016 political ads with underlying, downloadable data on airings in key TV markets. She is co-author, with Micah Sifry, of Is That a Politician in Your Pocket? Washington on $2 Million
 a Day (John Wiley & Sons, 2004), and contributed to The Buying of the Congress, Center for Public Integrity (Avon Books, 1998). She was the recipient of the Century Fund grant and served as fellow for the Center for Independent Media. A graduate of Swarthmore College, she lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three children.

Carrie McLaren, Art Director

carrie-roundMcLaren has over twenty years’ experience in web and print, as a web designer, editor, researcher, and marketing strategist. Her clients have included Benjamin R. Barber, Mark Crispin Miller, the Center for Media and Democracy, City Limits, Metropolis, David Byrne, and Tom Waits. She is the co-author of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture, published by an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and currently in its second printing. For over a decade, McLaren edited and designed Stay Free! magazine and its sister blog, Stay Free! Daily. She collaborated with Jessica Clark on the Illegal Art Exhibit, a multimedia show that examined the relationship between copyright and free speech. Her media projects have been covered in many major outlets, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC-TV, and NPR.

 Angelica Das, Senior Associate

angelica-headshotDas specializes in strategy for social impact documentary with over a decade of experience in non-profit communication and management. She was previously associate director at the Center for Media & Social Impact, overseeing all content production and events on empowering media that matters. Angelica’s field-building contributions include editing the latest iteration of the BRITDOC Impact Field Guide, and advocating for diverse and independent storytelling in public television as coordinator with the Indie Caucus. She is an impact producer for City of Trees (2015), producer for the upcoming film As a Father and co-producer for Roaming Wild (2014). Angelica is a rising leader in the film community, serving on juries and committees including with AFI DOCS, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Filmfest DC, the Peabody Awards and BRITDOC Impact Awards. She is an active member of the Advisory Board for local production company Meridian Hill Pictures and a consultant with Dot Connector Studio.

Dan Cook, Associate

Cook is a professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, Camden. His work focuses on the evolution of children’s consumer culture, and how tensions around conceptions of childhood and the marketplace play out in media, technology, food, and other cultural arenas. He brings expertise in qualitative and economic analysis and urban sociology to Dot Connector Studio’s research initiatives. Cook is the author of The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer (2004, Duke University Press), is editing the SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies, and serves as an editor for Childhood, A Journal of Global Child Research. Along with John Wall, Cook edited Children and Armed Conflict (2011, Palgrave). He was the sole editor of Symbolic Childhood (2002, Peter Lang) and The Lived Experiences of Public Consumption(2008, Palgrave). He is also the founding Chair of the Section on the Sociology of Consumers and Consumption of the American Sociological Association and serves on the editorial boards of several journals and on scientific committees of international scholarly organizations.  He earned his PhD in Sociology at the University of Chicago, an MA in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in Individual Plans of Study from the University of Illinois.