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Susan Curtis

Susan Mango Curtis

Professor

Susan Mango Curtis is a visual journalism leader and creative thinker with expertise in strategic planning product management in digital and print. She teaches digital storytelling and graphic design, specializing in immersive storytelling curriculum. Curtis is a dedicated educator providing students with the capability to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, recognize, use, create and appreciate visuals. She has been a champion of visual thinking throughout her design career. She enthusiastically sees the potential for digital news delivery and was an early adapter of digital publishing on mobile phones and tablets.

Curtis is recognized as an Adobe Education Leader and official Northwestern campus Adobe creative representative. She has been a beta software tester for the Scroll Motion Ingage app and Adobe; Spark, Premier Rush, DPS, Dimensions, Animate, Character Animator, Photoshop iPad, Lightroom mobile, Capture mobile app.

As former president of the Society of News Design, Curtis was the driving force behind the development of the first SND Design Code of Ethics, used by visual journalist around the world and the 2019 recipient of SND Lifetime Achievement Award. She was formerly the assistant managing editor for the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. She led a total redesign in 1991 and won numerous awards for the visual look and organization. She was also part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize gold medal for a series titled “The Question of Color.”

Curtis operates a design consulting business both in the United States and abroad and frequently lectures on design for various universities and newspaper societies. She is a founding member of National Association of Black Journalists Visual Task Force and the NABJ Journalism Educator of the Year 2020.

Teaching Philosophy

Curtis believes teaching is about guiding, inspiring and advising students in mastering complex topics, fostering energy that allows them to thrive and grow in a rapidly changing technological world. The classroom environment is a safe place to step back from traditional storytelling and explore creative approaches. The goal is to prepare students to graphically produce and convey information in a way that enhances and elevates its meaning. And human-centered design plays a role in each assignment, in which students put people at the center of the research and use design thinking as their lens to view the world. Nothing excites her more than seeing students practice alternative story techniques that explore the intersection of storytelling and art in various contexts. This provides the knowledge needed to successfully become creative thinkers of the future, that think differently, explore and reflect, confident in their design skills enough to push the creative imagination and take crazy ideas and turn them into tangible digital communications.

Awards And Honors

  • 2020 National Association of Black Journalists “Journalism Educator of the Year”
  • 2019 Society of Newspaper Design Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2013-2014 Northwestern University ASG Faculty and Administration Honor Roll
  • 2009 Medill MUSAC Teacher Appreciation Award
  • 2006 Society of Newspaper Design award for work on the Code of Ethical Standards
  • 2003 National Association of Black Journalists Visual Task Force: Leadership Team
  • 2000 National Association of Black Journalists Visual Task Force: Award of Excellence in Photojournalism
  • 1996 Society of Newspaper Design: two awards of excellence, one ward of excellence for the design of Tribe sport section, The Beacon Journal
  • 1996 Creativity ’96 received two certificates of distinction and one gold medal for design and illustration, The Beacon Journal Art Department staff.
  • 1995 Associated Press Society informational graphics one first prize and two honorable mentions and in Illustration first prize.
  • 1995 Society of Newspaper Design award four awards of excellence, The Beacon Journal Art Department staff.
  • 1995 National Headliner award, first place in Illustration, The Beacon Journal Art Department staff.
  • 1994 The Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service: “A Question of Color”--The Akron Beacon Journal’s year of reporting on race relations- led to “Coming Together,” the community’s project that continues today.. Twenty-nine Beacon Journal reporters, photographers, artists and editors, from every newsroom department connected with readers from every part of Akron.
  • 1993 Society of Newspaper Design: won one bronze award and one award of excellence.
  • 1993 The Cleveland Press Club Excellence in Journalism.
  • 1993 The Associated Press Society of Ohio award
  • 1992 Society of Newspaper Design: won two silver awards, one bronze award and four awards of excellence, The Beacon Journal Art Department staff.
  • 1991 Print Regional Design Annual award
  • 1991 The Cleveland Press Club Excellence in Journalism (The Beacon Journal Art Dept.)
  • 1991 The Cleveland Press Club Excellence in overall look of The Beacon Journal.
  • 1991 The Associated Press Society of Ohio award
  • 1991 Society of Newspaper Design: award of excellence page redesign
  • 1991 Society of Newspaper Design: two awards of excellence section redesign
  • 1991 Society of Newspaper Design: bronze award for redesign overall

Past Positions

Northwestern University Academic Appointments

  • Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, 1997 to present
    • Professor, Digital Literacy and Creative Storytelling 2020 to present
    • Associate Professor, Digital Storytelling and Design Strategists 2015-2020
    • Assistant professor, Visual Journalism 1997-2015

Society for News Design

  • Immediate Past President, 2005
  • President, 2004
  • First Vice President, 2003
  • Second Vice President, 2002
  • Treasurer, 2001
  • Secretary, 2000
  • Diversity Chair, 1999
  • Faculty Adviser, Medill student chapter of Society for News Design, since 1997
  • Board of Directors representing Region 4, 1995-1998
  • Member of the Society for News Design Diversity Committee, 1990-1995

National Association of Black Journalists

  • Co-chair for the Visual Task Force, 1995
  • Chair for the Visual Task Force 1994 and "Unity" 94 coordinator for 18 workshops
  • Visual Task Force Unity 99
  • Committee Co-chair for the Visual Task Force 1993
  • Unity Visual Task Force 2004 Committee
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