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Introducing eLab staff members: Rachele, Johnny, and Anne

February 10, 2022

by Sharry Li

Anne Cahill, Rachele Gardner, and Johnny Richardson.

Johnny Richardson, Lead Developer at The Engagement Lab

As an undergraduate Emerson student majoring in Interactive Media, Johnny attended a couple of classes taught by our eLab director Eric Gordan. The two of them remained in touch after Johnny’s graduation and their connection led to the beginning of Johnny’s journey at the eLab. Johnny joined the eLab as the Lead Developer because of his love for the Emerson community and the type of work that the eLab had been doing. His past experience working in the gaming industry informs Johnny’s approach to problem-solving through play and tech to build better democracy and governance. Johnny saw firsthand the changes that the eLab and the Emerson community have gone through over the past decade. Since he graduated from Emerson 13 years ago, the campus has undergone drastic transformations alongside Boston’s changing environment. The eLab has also constantly been evolving and improving in this journey. Currently, Johnny is focused on the new initiative Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence (TNGV) and assisting the team with his technology expertise. His goal for the eLab is to be able to incorporate more automation pipelines into the eLab workflow so that the eLab website can quickly reflect project updates.

Anne Cahill, Director of Finance & Grants

Anne joined the eLab in 2016 through a friend’s referral. She is fond of the social justice and local community-related research that the eLab focuses on. Anne brings 18 years of work experience in Boston higher education at institutions like Harvard University and MIT to her role as Director of Finance & Grants at the eLab. She enjoys the eLab’s intimate and hands-on environment where she can see the impact of her work. Her main responsibilities include approving all eLab purchases and ensuring that they all go to the correct fund. This process can be challenging at times because of potential communication issues. But using communication tools like Slack and emails allows Anne to stay organized.

Rachele Gardner, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Civic Impact, Engagement Lab & Lead Organizer, People’s Collaborative Governance Network

Rachele came to the eLab with deep experience of Boston’s civic and non-profit sector. In 2019, as the lead organizer of the 2019 Boston Civic Leaders Summit, she invited our eLab director Eric Gordon to be a panelist. After this event, Rachele and Eric continued their discussions around the urgent need to support community-led change-making in Boston. Later on, they received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to explore mechanisms of collaborative governance in 2020. This led to the establishment of the People’s Collaborative Governance Network (PCGN), which focuses on how local government can partner with communities to transform policy and services in Boston. As the one-year grant began to wrap up, Eric invited her to stay on at the eLab as the Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Civic Impact to help continue this model of initiatives.

Rachele describes her personal mission as working to create greater equity in Boston by equipping and empowering youth and adult residents as drivers for change in their own communities. Rachele lives this mission at eLab, working closely with community-based partners, Emerson faculty and staff, and other stakeholders to ensure that those who are most directly impacted by the issues and projects explored at eLab remain centralized in the work. Rachele’s role in the eLab’s TNGV initiative is to facilitate community involvement and leadership as well as determine how to measure direct social impact. She envisions that the eLab will incorporate more initiatives like TNGV in the next few years, allowing the eLab to become a pioneer among other academic institutions in community engagement and partnerships. Rachele also hopes that the eLab can be a space for Emerson students to use art, communications, and media for social justice issues in the long term.

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