My story and some thoughts for you.


For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for design. But not just artistic – I love solving problems in the world and designing experiences for people and my own life path. Designing for a future time utilizing the present resources.

I came out of undergrad with a degree in cognitive psychology with a focus on women’s studies. I cared deeply about women feeling empowered in their careers, that they set the terms of how they work and the subject matter of their work. I was able to secure a job as a co-director in the women’s studies organization on campus and ran the arts and writing program. Created funding sources with grant applications and did all of the PR and crisis management work in the organization. As I look back on my career this experience is the foundation of where I developed patience for hard things. Funding was a long process with many hours of work but it enabled the programs to run, a new art gallery with monthly openings and community events. I learned so much in this job.

While I had intended to become a therapist primarily helping to empower women in career development and relationship health, I had a very rich life as an improvisational dancer in my early 20’s and a small wearable art business. One of my dance partners, who loved my paintings invited me to spend the summer in Boston and gave me a job in a children’s game company. It was here that I learned a whole new field was being born that combined all my passions: Cognitive science, empowering humans, writing, and visual design. While in Boston I studied graphic design as I illustrated and animated Alice in Wonderland children’s games working in a lab with a drunk claymation artist (can’t make this stuff up).

As I learned more about the field of experience design, especially the psychology of intuition from visual cues, it became very clear where I needed to be. Apple Computer was seeking to hire creatives with 50% analytical. They actually tested for the 50/50 split. I believe in being stubborn in vision and flexible in the details so when I was offered a job at NeXT in the creative services team of Steve Jobs, I accepted but always with my eye on Apple Computer.

It took another year to get to Apple and had much to learn about interaction design in computing as it relates to people having positive experiences but Steve kept me on my toes. He’d say: “Okay, so it’s a boring help system, make it more, make it romantic.” What the..? And then there were the financial conversations in the hallway about how much I make and if he paid 2.00 more per hour would I come on as a full-time employee (I was a contractor) – “Nope, I’d say. I have my eye on Apple.” He would briskly walk away. I knew the risk. I would either be fired or he would take it as a challenge and keep bugging me. Steve could go either way. Love you or hate you for challenging him. It all depended on the creative currency he thought he could get from you.

I did get the job at Apple and then again at its partner company Claris. I was able to fulfill my initial vision of combining psychology, art, and writing to make smooth and satisfying experiences for customers. More than that was the learning – so intense. Apple had many intellectual requirements. And provided courses and sessions at Apple U. like anthropological studies for global design. I loved every second of it.

I see my career journey as more complex than intended. From wanting to be a therapist to enculturing the journey with a multi-disciplinary approach to the psychology of designing for human experiences. But as I remember who I was as a kid, it all makes sense.

I was always an experience-designer and now I am coaching and mentoring individuals in keeping their standards high, holding a stubborn vision while using the techniques of life design to create a beautiful life and empowering career. In a way, I am fulfilling all of it – including the therapist role wish as I help others fulfill their dreams using what I learned as a designer in my career.


Our career, identity, and lifestyle can be on a trajectory filled with stability, prosperity, and the aspirations we once envisioned. Yet there is an underlying dissonance, a subtle whisper, “I recognize you, and this isn’t your intended path, is it?”

Would you like to clarify the message, define a frictionless path?


MFA Masters Creative Writing. Vermont College of Fine Arts

BA Bachelors Cognitive Psychology. UC Santa Cruz

MIM Masters Intuitive Medicine, Academy of Intuitive Sciences. Bay Area, CA


ICCP International Color Consulting Professional and Interior Design. QC Design Toronto

Screenwriting for Film & Television. UC Los Angeles

ADP Mentor 1000 minutes career mentorship for emerging UX designers in technology


Real Experience, Perspective, and Intuition

Niya was incredible at seeing the big picture. My career approach had tunnel vision and Niya encouraged me to take a breath, step back, and really take a look at where I want to go next. There are a lot of ways to approach mentorship, but being able to read what your mentee needs in a larger, strategic sense is an amazing skill. Finally, she offered advice on how to apply my findings in a very real way.

~ N.T. Designer, Oakland CA.

Eye Opening and Wise

It was an honor to meet and get support and advice from Niya. I could immediately tell she was an insightful mentor. She listened to my current situation and gave me amazing tips on how to approach my new career paths. This is eye-opening for me as I hadn’t thought about it before. I’d love to see her again and learn more from her wisdom!

~ R.T., Student, Sri Lanka.

Amazing Guidance

Niya is such a great communicator and she provided me with amazing guidance on how to approach the future of my career. She had an understanding of my situation and she made sure to help me as much as possible to achieve my career goals.

~ B.S., Designer, Slovenia

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