Meet Management: Programs Coordinator, Lauren Call

As a former Invent@NMU Human-Centered Designer, Lauren Call spent a lot of her time as a student employee in the Innovate Marquette ProtoLab assisting in prototype design. Now, as she transitions from mentee to mentor as Innovate Marquette’s Programs Coordinator, Lauren is a critical part of event planning, outreach, and programming.

Who is Lauren Call?

Lauren, born and raised in South Lyon, Michigan, grew up loving all things arts, culture, nature, and animals. Being close to Ann Arbor, Lauren was able to explore art fairs and city culture regularly with her friends. As a child, Lauren had a dream of being a veterinarian because of her love of animals, but as she grew, her love of design and working with her community came into focus. 

Designing Her Path 

As Programs Coordinator, her passion for community connection gets to run wild. In addition to her role at Innovate Marquette, Lauren enjoys freelance graphic design, being a dog and cat mom, and exploring all the possibilities that come with post-graduate life. 

Making Her Way Across the Bridge

At 17 years old, Lauren crossed the Mackinac Bridge to start a new chapter of life in the Upper Peninsula. She attended Northern Michigan University (NMU), majoring in Human-Centered Design within the Art and Design Department. Art and Design stood out to her because she was unsure what she wanted to major in, but she loved that Human-Centered Design was a broader industry that was applicable to work outside of art and design. Marquette became home to Lauren because of the immersive natural environment and accessibility to outdoor activities — hiking, Lake Superior, dense forests, and foraging right in her backyard. Even with an active lifestyle, Marquette offered the opportunity to take a breath and gave a glimpse of what a slower, comfortable life can look like. Now, she’s enjoying life with her partner, Luke, and their dogs Mud and Hazel. 

The Invent@NMU Experience 

In 2022, Lauren started working at Invent@NMU as a student Human-Centered Designer. As a student employee at Invent@NMU, Lauren was able to learn new skills, gain valuable experience, and build connections all while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at NMU. Lauren, along with a group of fellow Invent@NMU students, traveled to Detroit in 2022 to participate in Design Core Detroit’s annual Design Jam competition. Teams of 8-10 faced off in a 2 part, hands-on design and prototyping challenge centered around adaptive outdoor recreation products. Lauren’s team designed an innovative hiking boot system that alerts the user of disproportionate pressure across the foot, minimizing falls in people using leg prosthetics who are unable to feel their foot on the ground. In the end, her team won the competition! 

Post Grad

Following graduation, Lauren worked as the gallery manager of Graci Gallery in downtown Marquette. There, she was able to break out of her shell and hone in on her people skills, creative freedom, and coordination. 

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Returning to Her Roots 

When the position of Programs Coordinator opened up at Innovate Marquette, Lauren jumped at the opportunity to return to her former Invent@NMU office- this time, as part of the Innovate Marquette management team. The environment, people, and mission of Innovate Marquette stayed with Lauren after she graduated in 2023. With her experience working on the Invent@NMU team as a designer and working as a gallery manager at Graci Gallery, Lauren felt the Programs Coordinator position was a perfect opportunity to utilize her unique skillset. Lauren values a team-oriented environment and was excited to see her old friends again! She’s a team player and describes herself as someone who thrives off of accountability from those around her.

Why Programs Coordinator?

One of her favorite parts of being Programs Coordinator is that it’s a ‘people first’ position and works directly with the community. When asked what makes a healthy workplace, Lauren responded, “Respect. Both giving respect and receiving it.” Her goals at Innovate Marquette include being able to set herself up for growth in her career and becoming a more well-rounded professional. Some of Lauren’s key responsibilities include event planning and outreach. Lauren quickly became integral in the planning and execution of Innovation Week shortly after starting the position. Now, alongside Programs Manager Kristin Tanner, Lauren has been focused on preparing for the annual Women in Entrepreneurship event and rollout of Invent@NMU’s new Vanbassador Program. Lauren continues to be a valuable addition to the team, and the Innovate Marquette team is very lucky to have her!

After Hours 

While Lauren spends many of her days working from the Innovate Marquette office in Downtown Marquette, she also lives a very fulfilling life outside of work. Lauren’s fun fact is that she is an avid reader and read 48 books last year alone- that’s almost 1 book per week! Her all-time favorite book is Cultish by Amanda Montell. While she loves to curl up with a good book, she also loves to get active and play with her dogs, Mud and Hazel, and her cat, Riz. Lauren has recently taken up dog training after adding her chocolate lab puppy, Mud, to the family! Mud is described as a “puppy prodigy” because of how smart he is. You might also find Lauren at a local coffee shop enjoying a drink while writing and listening to podcasts. 

About the Author: Originally from Minnesota, Sarah Gimpl is a senior at NMU studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability with a minor in Art and Design. Sarah has worked at Invent@NMU as a marketing assistant since her freshman year.