LAUNCHING:
SHANNON DOWNEY

Company:

Badass Cross Stitch 

Photo credit: Gloria Araya

THE BIG QUESTIONS

WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?

I have a few…

  1. Director of Development, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago

  2. Faculty, DePaul University + Columbia College Chicago

  3. Founder, Seriously Badass Women

  4. Fiber Artist + Craftivist, Badass Cross Stitch

WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?

That depends on the day. Most days I’m at the office writing grants, building funding strategies, and meeting with potential sponsors. Once a week, I’m in a classroom teaching entrepreneurship. Evenings and weekends are when the stitching and fiber arting comes into play. A few times a month I’m interviewing badass ladies for Seriously Badass Women.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?

I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I’m still working on that plan. I have a degree in Archaeology and have spend a few years (collectively) travelling around the world on adventures that include: a hot air balloon ride over the valley of the kings, a camel trek through the Thar desert, hiking the Great Wall of China, and backpacking through the rainforests of Thailand. Alas, there was no holy grail involved.  I’m currently investigating PHD programs so….I’m basically almost Jr.

WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

Undergrad degree in Archaeology and a Masters degree in Outdoor Education (pays off everyday) ;)

WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

There’s an opportunity in every challenge. Find it.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?

I have lots. It’s nearly impossible for me to select one. I will narrow it down: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, Bell Hooks, Gloria Steinem, The Women of Seriously Badass Women, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, The Obamas, Savion Glover, Bob Ross (ok I’ll stop).

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?

I LOVE my work environments. I get to spend my days with super brilliant people who are totally committed to working towards racial justice. There is so much brainpower in that office. It also helps that they are just really cool people.
In the classroom, my students are so engaging and interesting. They are ready to bring their brilliance to the workforce and it’s always exciting to be someone who gets to help them prepare for it.
Creating art is my meditation. It’s quiet and private and methodical.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?

Currently, I live across the city from my fiancé and it sucks. I would add about 5 hours to each day so I could spend them with her until we move in together.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?

One year into a PHD program…or traveling the country teaching craftivism and making art.

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?

Absolutely. I could not exist otherwise. Seriously. I don’t have that skillset.

WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?

I am surrounded by brilliant women. They are everywhere in my life. That is not by accident.

DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?

My life is amazing and that is because of the diversity of people that I am surrounded by. That too, is not an accident.

HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?

It is my superpower.

WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?

Strategic thinking, exceptional communication skills, a vast network, honesty, no ego, authenticity, empathy, ability to translate the complex, a strong sense of humour.

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