Woodbury University alumni have transformed and continue to transform the world we live in. Alumni across all disciplines carry with them the foundation of Woodbury’s four pillars: design thinking, entrepreneurship, transdisciplinarity and civic engagement. Spotlighted below are alumni who are making a difference.
Dove Pressnall (’95-Business Administration) is the epitome of civic engagement and community empowerment. The nonprofit she founded, Survivors’ Truths, empowers communities by collaborating with marginalized groups—transgender youth, people affected by incarceration and the chronically homeless, among others—to create media and storytelling that challenges stereotypes and raises awareness of their issues. Currently the organization is also active in Liberia, promoting healing and sustainable peace in the aftermath of the country’s civil war and educating the public on ways to assist with the current Ebola outbreak. Pressnall’s thoughtful sense of purpose fuels her desire to build strong communities, both locally and globally. She is also involved in the New Leaders Council, a progressive leadership development institute, her son’s public school and her local Time Bank. With all of her activities, she still finds time to give back to Woodbury by offering volunteer and internship opportunities to a number of our students, as well as participating in the strategic planning session as an alumni representative. To learn more about Survivors’ Truths, and to see what you can do to help, click here: survivorstruths.org.
Bryan Oknyansky (’08-Architecture) ingeniously combined design thinking and entrepreneurship and emerged with some of the most stunning footwear ever created. Oknyansky, founder of Shoes by Bryan, is the creator of the world’s first eco-friendly, customizable, wearable high heels produced on a 3-D printer. His business and design approaches link needs and function with limits and possibilities, combining extraordinary technology and a taste for comfort and fashion with the universal need for footwear and environmental concern. Oknyansky, who minored in art history and business administration, says Woodbury strongly contributed to his commitment to transcending boundaries. Shoes by Bryan has crossed international boundaries and been featured at Fashion Weeks in Berlin, London and Paris, and displayed as part of the Shifting Paradigms exhibition on fashion and technology at the Kent State University Museum of Art. Create and order your own Shoes by Bryan by visiting shoesbybryan.com.
Drew Kessler (’12-Fashion Design) is a shining example of design thinking. His collection “Restless Soul Collective” was featured at Vancouver Fashion Week in September 2013 at the Chinese Cultural Center in the Chinatown District of Vancouver. Kessler’s collection was based on nomadic people from around the world and the lifestyles they lead. Kessler employed minimalistic, functional clothing designs, while adding beautiful finishing touches like handbags and shoes. Kathryn Hagen, chair of Woodbury’s fashion design department, says of Kessler, “He works in a very intuitive manner but has a strong philosophy underlying his work process.” Kessler is definitely a designer to watch!