About Us

Jessica Clark, 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 and Director of Learning & Impact

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 works with small businesses to build systems and processes that promote growth and efficiency.  Her interest in philanthropy and longtime curiosity about how the media industry works led her to Dot Connector Studio. Here, she manages day-to-day operations and provides project-based support. She has contributed to reports and tool-building for the Democracy Fund, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Ford Foundation. Polyak has worked at numerous art nonprofits and galleries in administrative and operational positions in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She is an Oberlin College graduate with a B.A. in Art History.

Carrie McLaren, Art Director

McLaren 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.

OUR NETWORK

Dot Connector Studio regularly collaborates with other independents and firms focused on media research, strategy, and design, including:

8 Bridges Workshop

8 Bridges WorkshopLed by Sarah Lutman, 8 Bridges Workshop collaborates with leading social sector clients in culturepublic media, and philanthropy. Dot Connector Studio has partnered with 8 Bridges on research and strategy projects for Media Impact Funders, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Knight Foundation and more. By connecting clients with research, data, people, ideas, and resources, Sarah and her team help explore directions, analyze options, set intentions, and implement solutions. The firm is known for  creative, future-facing projects that help organizations navigate transitions like leadership succession, business model changes, shifts in audience or participant needs and expectations, or the availability of unexpected opportunities. They share what they’re learning through writing, community conversations, and project collaborations, and build bridges to other freelancers, consultants, and service organizations to advance the field of consulting practice, increase the impact of the social sector, and strengthen civil society.

Lynx, LLC

Nancy WatzmanPrincipal Nancy Watzman is an award-winning investigative journalist, researcher, and strategist with a focus on launching data-rich journalism projects on emerging platforms. Formerly Dot Connector Studio’s director of strategic initiatives, 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.

Multiply Bureau

San Francisco Bay Area-based impact and innovation consulting firm Multiply Bureau is led by Hannah Eaves.

Hannah has worked with our director, Jessica Clark to develop rigorous methods of media impact assessment on and off over the last five years as part of a field-wide effort to help funders and outlets better track outcomes, experiment with emerging platforms, and become more sustainable. She also brings to the table a wealth of experience in digital project development and innovation, which will help round out our ambition to be not just a media strategy firm, but a studio for making compelling media tools and platforms. We are happy to be formalizing what has been an engaging, fun and complementary partnership.

Joyce Rice

Joyce is a designer and cartoonist with a focus in journalism, education, and advocacy. Dot Connector Studio has worked with her to develop various illustrations for The Democracy Fund. She takes a multimedia approach to sticky design problems and develops graphics, comics, games, and other digital solutions for a wide range of clients. She believes fervently in the power of visual storytelling to create deep connections between audiences and complex content.