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Gita Pullapilly and her husband and filmmaking partner Aron Gaudet hope movie theater audiences are ready to laugh. Their counterfeit coupon crime caper, Queenpins, starring Kristen Bell and Vince Vaughn, opens in theaters nationwide Sept.

Read more about Gita Pullapilly and Queenpins

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Gabriel Neely-Streit ’16 is co-owner of Colores Mexicanos, an importer of handmade art, clothing and accessories from Indigenous communities across Mexico. By working directly with dozens of artisans and artisan cooperatives across 11 Mexican states, Colores Mexicanos aims to help preserve the cultural diversity of Mexico, which is home to more than 60 living Indigenous languages and a wide variety of folk art.

Learn about the business

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Donna Washington ’90 is a storyteller based in Durham, North Carolina whose original stories and folk takes inspire community and connection. She chooses stories specifically for different aged young audiences, tackling topics like anti-racism, red-flag relationships and how to understand the construction of a story.

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Donna Hero v2
Kate Zambreno ’99 considers herself a late bloomer. She began her career as a journalist with Chicago alt-weeklies before delving into more experimental fiction, pushing the boundaries of traditional forms. “Much of my writing goes past fact into the realm of fiction,” says Zambreno. The author of eight books, she is now nationally recognized for writing that “troubles genre,” as she puts it.

Read more about Kate Zambreno

Kate Zambrano Hero
Nancy Johnson ’93 worked for more than a decade as an award-winning television reporter for CBS and ABC affiliates before moving into corporate communications and public relations. “Still,” she says, “I always wanted to tell the stories of my own imagination, particularly those about the Black experience in America.” Johnson has accomplished just that in her debut novel, The Kindest Lie, named one of the most anticipated books of 2021 by Newsweek; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Elle.

Read a Q & A with Nancy Johnson

Kindest Lie Hero
If you’re a fan of John Legend’s hit song “Conversations in the Dark,” you’re already a fan of Kellen “Pom Pom” Pomeranz too. A songwriter and producer based in New York City, Pomeranz has worked on some of today’s most popular songs, such as “Novocaine” by the Unlikely Candidates, which topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart for 33 weeks.

Read more about Kellen “Pom Pom” Pomeranz's success

Pom Pom Hero
Chris Williams, who grew up figure skating and playing hockey in north Minneapolis, says he didn’t encounter racism on the rink until he got to high school. “Some of the guys on the hockey team were real cool, but a handful weren’t,” recalls Williams, now a pediatrician in his hometown.

Get to know Chris Williams

Chris Williams
Rosina Samadani had been on the job for just two weeks as CEO of Oculogica, a company that develops eye-tracking products for improved brain health, when she was struck in the head by an umbrella while sitting on the beach. That’s when she learned firsthand the benefits of Oculogica’s EyeBOX, a first-of-its-kind concussion diagnostic tool.

Read her story

Rosina Samadani
Jesse Humpal drifted in and out of special education classes as a child. He almost failed out of his undergraduate program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and at Northwestern, where Humpal has earned two master’s degrees and a PhD, he almost threw in the towel on higher education entirely during a course on linear regression.

Read about Jesse

Jesse Humpal
Author Jennifer Mathieu ’98 trained at Northwestern as a journalist. After transitioning her career to teaching and learning from her students, she began writing Young Adult (YA) fiction and making a name for herself as an author with a keen sense of her audience and the stories they care about.

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Jennifer Mathieu