My career started in International Relations.
My first internship was in Washington DC, at a bipartisan NGO that worked on food policy: Describing hunger in statistics. Working the legislative process. Tracking foreign aid. But my study-abroad year was a field tour through Central America, one year after the war ended in Guatemala. These were themes of Land justice. Indigenous people’s testimonies. Genocide. Perhaps I got lucky that by age 21, I had already completed a crash course on how power is wielded in politics, enacts policies, supports nation-states, and affects human lives.
The Early Road
I would go on to work in a legal clinic for political asylees, a welfare rights union in Philadelphia, a legal clinic for LGBTQ Civil Rights, then a hospice for people living with late stage HIV/AIDS.
In time, I followed my growing interest in technology and landed at a series of plucky startups in Silicon Valley and at Apple. I used my organizational skills mostly on the business side of making software. During this decade, I learned some valuable lessons to (a) understand how an engineer thinks, (b) write code, and (c) empathize with the end user and prioritize them over the ‘experts’ in the room.
Finding My Vocation
All of these experiences led me to focus on projects that merged my two passions: social justice and technology. Through self-funding and crowdfunding, I went on to compose and code my first publication, a digital humanities project called Monroe & Florence Work Today. This project is a history lesson on the brutal practice of American lynching, which, alongside Jim Crow, molded our post-Civil War society. Featured on The Huffington Post and Smithsonian.com, it has reached over 200,000 people. By way of this six-year project, I cultivated the practice of building genuine interactions that SHOW not TELL.
Since 2015 I’ve focused my work on pushing the boundaries of how people might interact with ideas. Thus far I’ve done it with maps on the web, with mobile phone apps, and touchscreens in museums. My latest work is being used to acknowledge and commemorate the Ocoee Massacre of 1920 and build a context for reparations.
Today I am many things. A public historian working without a building. A visual designer who codes. A cartographer still thinking about how politics are made. The expertise I’ve honed after all these years is understanding the listener to the story. So now my job is finding ways to tell the stories better, in a way that listeners are curious to hear them… maybe, even, inspired afterward to make the world a better place.
Ramzi, by the numbers
Years of Experience
Quality of writing