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Emily Goodson ‘03

Intuition, education, representation and accessibility. Those are some of the ideals that Emily Goodson ‘03 has carried through her personal and professional life.
At age 8, Emily suffered from a brain injury and was paralyzed on the entire left side of her body. She was able to recover, but had to re-learn how to speak and move. Learning how to type with one hand and how to walk with legs that are two different lengths was her new reality. As a child, she vividly remembers sitting in front of countless TVs and stages wondering when someone in a wheelchair or someone who walked differently, like herself, would win an Oscar, act on Broadway, or be President of the United States. This led her to recognize that there is a representation issue in the media we watch and as a result, the stories we tell ourselves. Whether it is overcoming race, disability, gender, or other barriers, there are stories of resilience, like hers and beyond that need to be elevated. It became her mission to give a greater power to those stories.

After her first corporate speaking engagement, she realized that there was a lack of education in workplaces and schools around experiences with disability based on the questions she was asked, assumptions that were made, and shocked faces she saw in the audience. She realized that as terrifying as conversations around disability are for her, they are often more terrifying for those who don’t have first-hand experience or understanding. She hopes that by sharing her own experience, it might create an open dialogue and inspire others to have their own courageous conversations.

By way of her writing, corporate and community speaking engagements, and workplace advising, Emily is a leader in creating and scaling respectful workplace culture, with a specific focus on empowering more conversation around disability, accessibility and inclusion in communities. Through her business, CultureSmart, the goal is to create systemic change around how we treat each other in the workplace, as well as create more compassionate environments. 

    One of her favorite English teachers at HRA and someone she often recalls, Heather O’Toole, helped shape Emily’s writing and perspective. Her current writing focus could be described as a “bildungsroman,”, or a ‘coming of age’ story, which she practiced writing often for that particular class. Emily also writes about the importance of following your own intuition. Her advice is to find a way you can stay connected with what you know to be true for you versus what others tell you should do or be.

    Emily lives in Santa Monica, California and is currently working with a team in Los Angeles to create a short “coming of age” film. To follow her journey of building greater awareness around disability from a people, marketing, and product perspective and to learn more about CultureSmart, visit www.workculturesmart.com.
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