When I think about the most pivotal moments in my life, I often recall a conversation.

I remember the phone call with a mentor that encouraged me to take on my first job as a youth and family counselor. I remember another discussion with a close friend that drove me to try my hand as a songwriter.

Conversations have become the integral space for personal change and formation.

So what happens when the conversations become all too familiar? Does growth stop?

I spent the last ten years of my life working as a program developer, creative director, and community builder in the religious non-profit sector. Although there were some tough moments, I loved it. I never felt so supported. I felt freedom to dream and to grow… and I did just that – dreamt and grew.

Conversation after conversation, I was challenged to think differently. But then something happened. The conversations began to sound all too familiar. It seemed as if I were discussing the same topics over and over again. And no matter what I did to try to change the information flow, it didn’t shift.

So I did the only thing I knew I could do: I decided to take a leap.

This year, I am studying Design Strategy and Social Innovation. I am curious about design strategy and how it can be used in storytelling and organizational structure to change culture in both the private and public sectors.

I am excited to start a new journey of learning and self-reflection, but really I am excited to engage in new conversations of what could be.

This year, it’s time to welcome new topics of conversation, and, with them, the growth they will bring.

James Paek

James has worked for the past ten years as a youth and family counselor, community leader and spiritual director. This work saw him managing community efforts with local government, creative projects, including music, marketing campaigns, and film, and campaigns against human-trafficking domestically and abroad. Working in the music industry as a songwriter specializing in top line (lyrics and melody) with artists and producers alike, James also values the connection between social change, artistic expression, and honest storytelling. James hopes to delve into the world of social entrepreneurship and social innovation through human-centered design, connecting creative design strategy and expression to promote social good.

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