Meet Allison Ingalsbe, FabNewport’s newly elected vice chair. Ingalsbe is an inspiring and passionate new team member with a fascinating background in the design thinking world.
We checked in with Allison to learn more about her and her ideas on how to improve our work and keep coping and engaging the community in the middle of the pandemic.
Check it out! Audio
How would you describe your journey?
I grew up in Kingstown, NY. I went to college at Rutgers University and then moved to Boston after I graduated. Eventually, I made my way to Newport where I settled!
I have two kids: Vanessa, who lives in LA and is a budding writer, and Reed, who just moved back to Newport from Boulder, CO, and graduated with a degree in environmental design.
I’ve been in Newport for about 30 years. I raised my kids here and had a great career in education that started at St. George’s School. Since I was little, my big passion has always been French. It was my major in college and what I taught at St.George’s School for 25 years.
During my time at St. George’s, I had many opportunities to grow professionally and I became very interested in experiential learning. I took students to Paris, where they did internships as an essential part of the cultural immersion. In three weeks, I saw how their confidence significantly improved. They were given many challenges, from navigating an unfamiliar city to living with a host family and working in a foreign language. They had to be okay with ambiguity, and every time they conquered a challenge, I saw their confidence grow. I also saw the power of experiential learning, deep learning, and how it made a difference for these students.
I then became the Director of Global and Signature programs, and I was able to work with alums, companies, and organizations. I created partnerships where students could do more hands-on and experiential learning through internships which allowed them to connect what they were doing in the classroom to the real world.
About five years ago, there was a significant design thinking initiative at the school that I eventually took on as part of my role. I loved it because it allowed small teams to collaborate together. Design thinking is a framework that has no hierarchy; it starts with empathy, where teams are allowed to be crazy and creative, to take risks and even fail — and that’s okay because you get to learn from what didn’t work.
I created the environment for teams and students to develop their creative solutions. Whether I was working with students, companies or boards, I saw a huge impact on the teams when they came up with really creative and innovative ideas. It was similar to what I experienced with the students in Paris when they were doing internships in other places — there was a great sense of accomplishment, boost in confidence and overall camaraderie.
After a great career in education, I ventured off and created my design thinking consulting firm one year ago. I work with companies, boards and schools to create workshops to help them solve their complex problems. And now, being on the board of FabNewport, the impact FabNewport is having in the community, really aligns with the work that I love to do.
What’s your connection with FabNewport? How do you see yourself as a maker?
I started very organically working with friends who asked me to run design thinking workshops for their teams or a board they were on. I saw how the design thinking framework was working and allowing people to solve problems with their expertise and perspectives. I realized I really wanted to do more of that! My introduction to FabNewport was when I met Steve Heath and Nick Logler (founders of FabNewport) when I was working at St George’s School, where they came and helped set up a FabLab.
About five years later, now I find myself again with FabNewport as Vice Chair and I’m happy to be part of the team and an organization that has such a positive impact on students and the community, both here and in Providence. As a maker, I see myself as a catalyst. I create the environment to help others create solutions and build an idea out of brainstorming sessions using design thinking.
How would you describe FabNewport?
FabNewport provides students with the space, environment, support, mentors, opportunities and connections that allow them to grow and reach their full potential. FabNewport gives students opportunities they may not have had otherwise. Students can try things they wouldn’t have thought possible because FabNewport has the programs and resources to help them do things that interest them. Students are encouraged to be curious, to try, explore, discover, learn and grow. All the FabNewport programs have an impact on their confidence because the students are at the center of the learning experience, and that makes all the difference. I love hearing the students talk about their projects! They speak with such pride about what they are doing from creative writing projects to social activism to filmmaking. It’s inspiring to hear their stories!
I think that pride happens also because of the staff who are so caring, respectful and connected to the students. The staff creates very enriching experiences for the students and they want to stay engaged and do more with FabNewport.
We are thankful for Allison and the fantastic background she is bringing to our team. If you’d like to know more about her, you can get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her consulting firm at Allison Ingalsbe | Creative Strategies.