LaKay Cornell

I create, craft, curate stories, events, brands, & spaces that are innovative + intersectional.

From creating to convening and curating to critiquing, I infuse strategy, storytelling, & design into the work of shifting culture, rethinking activism, & creating collaborative movements + communities.

I run a collaborative media project, called nuance, that seeks to create connection + change via exploring the variety of understandings we have of core humxn words and feelings. Learn more here.

Text

I am equal parts Southern, Progressive, Queer, Feminist, & Single Mom.

I'm writing and shopping a memoir that is a mix of prose, prose-poetry, lyrical nonfiction - the words better shared with a mic and the text as interesting visually as it is linguistically. Above all, it is a story of the American search for identity and community told through the stories of my journey from cult-church royalty to a queer, progressive southern, feminist, single mom and writer.

more about me
writing
strategy
event & space design

about me

I believe the world can only be changed through art and music and long nights on porches that involve too much beer and conversations that get interesting closer to the time the sun comes up than when it goes down.

My heart + soul live in the southeastern part of the United States, and I'm eager to be part of the various movements to create real change in the place I love so dearly. I love all the good stuff that comes with being a southerner, like knowing my neighbors, eating biscuits, and living slow.

I am a maximalist, which leads to long prose, pattern mixing, and an abundance of eco-friendly beauty products and wallpaper.

It also provides the roots of my belief that equality means abundance for all.

multidimensional. feminist. southern. soulful. progressive. pragmatist.
queer single-mom healing from life as cult-church royalty.
living to incite a revolution that topples systems, not people.

word generator • story creator • idea launcher • brand innovator
working to create brands that empower humxnity, not patriarchy

For the past 22 years, I have worked for and with devoted digital darlings, nontraditional startup founders, modern activist communities, forward thinking executive directors, hyper local dreamers, and glass shattering creatives who see the world both the way it is and the way it should be. This has included work in gender equality, reproductive rights, eradicating homelessness, responsible tech, economic equity, racial justice, climate change, HIV awareness, domestic & intimate partner violence support, queer rights, & sustainable income for survivors of humxn trafficking.

My portfolio includes event strategy & design, brand strategy, and an eco-conscious Airbnb remodel, as well as interviews, profiles, reviews, and essays that have been published with Conscious Company Media, Canadian Women’s Studies Journal, Transformative Tech, Creative Enlightenment, the Kindred Voice, & Evolve Magazine Florida.

writing
strategy
event & space design

published writing

Nonfiction Essays

Creative Enlightenment (Medium)

The Gift of Space Without Isolation, July 2021


Medium (self-published)

Finding My Work, August 2021

Work, Wellness, & the Future of Having Our Freedom, January 2021

What I Learned About Feminism from My Gen Z Daughter, July 2020

What's With That Weird Spelling - Womxn?, May 2020


Conscious Company Media (SOCAP Global)

The Power of Innovation, September 2020

The Intersection of Activists, June 2020

The Mastery of Leaders: Bold Insights from Taming the Environment, May 2020

The Soul of Creators: Bold Insights from Consciously Shifting Culture, April 2020

The Vision of Advocates: Bold Insights from Advancing Racial Equity, February 2020

The Wisdom of Womxn: Bold Insights from World Change, January 2020

Conscious Financing Has the Power to Save Small Businesses, November 2019

Can Hyper Local Businesses be Part of the Conscious Company Movement?, July 2019


Daily Haloha (Medium)

One Question a Day is Changing My Life, December 2019


The Perpetual You

You Are Not Alone: How Coworking Can Help Us Connect, (print) March 2018


The Kindred Voice

My Definition of Family, January 2019

My Modern Spirituality Journey, October 2017

The Courage To Leap, (print) November 2017


She is Fierce!

My Year of &, February 2017

Editing

Work as I say, Not as I Did, by Nicolás Forero (personal site), October 2021

People Like Us, by Adam Thomas for Datatheism (personal site), September 2021

What's Past Is Not Prologue, by Lyle McKeany for Just Enough to Get Me In Trouble, September 2021

How to Delegate Effectively, by Alex Azoury (personal site), September 2021

Foster's Lightweight Guide to Editing, (Contributor) August 2021

Creating a Bigger Social Wellness Movement, by Amy Giddon for Transformative Tech, July 2021

Embedding autonomy into company culture is next-level leadership – an interview with Vivian Chen, by Reza Cristián for The Rosie Report, September 2021

The power behind future successful DEI initiatives will come from autonomous workers, by Jessica Day for The Rosie Report, September 2021

Reasonable Requests Embracing the Autonomous Work Rebellion, by Felicity Bond for The Rosie Report, September 2021

How can we ensure the new work-from-anywhere-workplace actually works?, by Natalie Ruiz for The Rosie Report, September 2021

How can we ensure the new work-from-anywhere-workplace actually works?, by Amy Giddon, Press Release, January 2020


Profiles

Needle Movers (no longer exists/ cross-posted on Medium)

Megan Falley: Poet, Activist, Needle Mover, July 2020

Chelsea Handler: Frenemy, Candid AF, Needle Mover, April 2020

Dolly Parton: Singer-Songwriter, Beloved Icon, Needle Mover,
February 2020

Laura Cathcart Robbins: Truth-Teller, Community-Builder, Needle-Mover, January 2020


Copywriting & Blog Posting

Holding onto Hope, Central City Concern

Charlette's Story, Central City Concern


Text

Interviews & Brand Features

Transformative Tech

Keren Flavell, Kasaba, August 2021


Medium (self-published)

Sarah Symons, Her Future Coalition, January 2021

Dr. Vanessa Bouché, January 2021

Jennifer Moreau, World for Good, January 2021


SUSTAIN, the mag

Anya Rangnathan: Creating Massive Social Change, One Bad Apple at a Time, October 2020

Meet xocial, a Platform that Drives Social Impact for Business, October 2020


Conscious Company Media (SOCAP Global)

Alex Diaz, COMMON Future, September 2020

Kimberly Hogate, Faceted Media, September 2020

Emily Weltman, CoFlow Consulting, September 2020

Michal Kabatznik & Oded Shorer, Milestone Labs, July 2020

Sarah Sharif, Experimental Civics & Capsule Hack, July 2020

Lauren Duffield, xocial, July 2020

Monica Meng & Gideon Cohn, Good Capital Investment Group, July 2020

Marc O'Brien, Climate Designers & The Determined Studio, June 2020

Dr. Jessica Fusch, Key Vet & Farmer's Market Fido, June 2020

Rama Chakaki, Kinda Hibrawi, & Mai Barazi, mint + laurel, June 2020

Dr. Christopher Marquis, Cornell University, June 2020

Dr. Christine McDougall, Syntropic, June 2020

Misty Castaneda, For Purpose Kids, May 2020

Will Stringer, Chisos, May 2020

Amanda Brotman, AMANDA PEARL, May 2020

Anya Ranganathan, Bad Apple Produce, May 2020

Kate MItchell & Danielle Gustafson, Hello St. Augustine, May 2020

Eileen Gordon, Barnraiser, May 2020

Shaun Paul, Ejido Verde, May 2020

Mark Eckhardt, COMMON, May 2020


Conscious Company Media Cont. (SOCAP Global)

Judith Beserra, Sacred Mama Organics, April 2020

Peter Nelson, Threshold, April 2020

Tara Milburn, Ethical Swag, April 2020

Ryan Murphy, Huntsville Amphitheater, April 2020

Rachel DeCavage, Cinder & Salt, April 2020

Claire Pettibone, Madison Grace, April 2020

Rachel Kois, Simple Switch, April 2020

Keith Whittingham, Artifix Cafe, April 2020

Richard Averitt, Starchive, April 2020

Robyn Crawford, Eden Books, February 2020

✯ Hear Robyn's Interview on the hit podcast, The Only One in the Room, a result of this article!

Tré Seals, VocalType, February 2020

Rozella Kennedy, Brave Sis, February 2020

Sailaja Joshi, Mango & Marigold Press, February 2020

Constance Panton, Bifties, February 2020

Lourdes Perez-Ramirez, DuGudd, February 2020

Paul Kim, City College of New York, February 2020

Amy Giddon, Daily Haloha, January 2020

Jennifer Moreau, World for Good, January 2020

Beth Bell, Green Product Placement, January 2020

Jessica Day, IdeaScale, January 2020

Emily Charette, We Are Charette, January 2020

Cecile Gauthier, Lime Agency, January 2020

Melissa Barker, The Phoenix Project, January 2020

✯ Hear Melissa's Interview on the hit podcast, The Only One in the Room, a result of this artcile!

Jessica Yinka Thomas, B Academics, January 2020

Jenn Perry, Jelt Belt, January 2020

Sydney Badger of Public Habit, Afshan Abbas of Fuschia Shoes, & Sarah Cottee of Immi Watch, January 2020

Juliette Roy, Be Your Change, January 2020

skills & expertise

FORMAL EDUCATION

Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City
L.L.M. | 2010

Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston
Grad Cert: Womxn in Politics & Public Policy | 2005

Boston College Law School
J.D. | 2009

Simmons College, Boston
B.A.: Sociology; Womxn's Studies; Society & Health | 2003


CONTINUING EDUCATION

HUBSPOT Certifications: Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing, & Social Media

Numerous online courses including Marie Forleo's B-School, Trello for Business, Amy Porterfield's Course Creation, Thunder with Hillary Weiss, Firestarter Sessions with Danielle LaPorte.


ENERGY

Myers Briggs: ENFP
Strengthsfinder: strategic | woo | positivity | communication | ideation | futuristic
Adobe #CreativeType: the Visionary
Human Design: Manifesting Generator
Enneagram: Type 7

EXPERTISE

Strategic Insights: utilizing communications strategy rooted in intersectional social justice, innovative best practices, and impeccable use of language + design
Impact Storytelling: using a mix of engaging anecdotes and enticing data in writing, public speaking, brand architecture, marketing campaigns, and organizational leadership
Content Curation + Creation: understanding when to use communication that is long form v. short form | visual v. audio v. written v. multi-media | delivered by founder v. team-member v. partner v. client content
Thoughtful & Humxn-Centered Leadership: ushering new generations of leaders to the forefront of forward-thinking solutions with equally strong interpersonal & analytical skills using specific-language based communication & engagement
Brand Reputation: upleveling brand perception & success via collaboration, partnerships, & transparent communications


SOFTWARE SKILLS

MailChimp, Constant Contact, Substack, Tiny Letter, Hubspot Newsletters, Slack, Discord, Starchive, G-Suite, Office, Canva, Notion, Carrd, Squarespace, Mighty Networks, Trello, Asana, HeySummit, AirMeet, MeetFox, & Zoom


AWARDS & NOTORIETY

• 2021 Judge for Annual Bell Ringer Awards; PR Club of New England
• 40 Under 40; Entrepreneur Night St. Augustine
• Arthur Mag Social Impact Fellow, Law. Capstone Project: Gender, Economics, Race, & the First Time Homebuyers Credit

client love

Richard Averitt
Co-Founder: Starchive

Damn! You slayed it! Thank you for taking such care to produce something so compelling and helping our quixotic quest to change the future by elevating every individual's opportunity to see and share about their past.


Andrea Gibson
poet + spoken word artist

Your words live beautifully on the page and in my ear - a glorious revolt lit with love.


Lindsay Wishart
Co-Founder: Chive Events

Working with LaKay was like working with an old friend. Even though we never actually met in person before our event, it felt like a real collaboration from day one. In sharing her vision for the guests' experience at a day-long women in business workshop, we were able to work together to create an entire day centered around growth, beauty and nourishment.


Kim Dawon
Founder: K.Dawson Co.

LaKay is an excellent event planner, from securing caterers & videographers to ordering all the necessary marketing materials & components of launching successful workshops. I was able to just show up at these events & know that she took care of everything. The attendees were more than impressed, from the quality of food & giveaway items, to the decor & ambiance of the space.


Amy Giddon
Founder: Daily Haloha

If you're looking for momentum, work with LaKay. She is masterful at distilling things down to their essence of what matters - today.
She has brought Daily Haloha more visibility, consistently provides me with innovative ideas, & frequently connects the culture dots. She is more than a storyteller - she is a story creator.


Sarah Sharif
Founder: Experimental Civics & Capsule Hack

LaKay encouraged me to find my voice & coached me through her questions to really go deeper into my why & past. LaKay has mastered honing in on all the details most writers skip to uncover powerful, untold stories. I loved watching her drafting process & her drive to achieve balanced perfection. Anyone who puts that amount of dedication into their practice is a valuable asset.


Emily Weltman
Founder: Coflow Collective

You have a truly powerful way with words. Thank you for summing up what I do and who I work with - better than even I could.


Krystal Alexandria
Writer & Spiritual Leader

LaKay has this powerful ability to create a vision and convey it to you in such a relatable, down-to-earth way that you become a part of that vision.


Marc O'Brien
Co-Founder: Climate Designers & The Determined Studio

LaKay is the distinction between a marketer and a storyteller; a communications specialist. When marketers and sales people bring clients/members/attendees to your brand, she will make sure they are wowed beyond imagination. She'll make them want to stay.


Alex Diaz
Founder: COMMON Future

LaKay's passion is as boundless as her insistence on being part of the solution and building a better world. She does it with outstanding writing, like the profile she did on our firm. She has a great eye for angle, narrative and storytelling.


Dr. Christopher Marquis
Author & Professor at Cornell University

LaKay is a joy to work with and a strong writer and editor. She is a great storyteller and can take lots of disparate themes and ideas and weave them into a clear and coherent piece.


Mark Eckhardt
CEO: COMMON

LaKay is a wizard with words and a truly dedicated changemaker and ideator. If she shares an idea with you, you have about ten seconds to decide if you are going to join her before she’s made a plan, tested it (at least in her head and through research), decided whether it’s something that can work, and picked out who should be part of it


strategy

starchive: voice & brand strategy

Starchive is a modern, funky digital asset management system, made by creatives for creatives. Their website style and language was more of a standard SaaS brand. I created a brand voice and updated the homepage content and created a ten-email drip campaign. I also did a brand refresh - helping them update their brand visuals on the homepage and other select web pages.


Storyteller Coffee: International Womxn's Day Special Blends Strategy

The founder of Storyteller Coffee approached me to create a strategy that would help him launch two special blend coffees for IWD. One blend would be from a farm owned by womxn and one from a farm where the womxn did all the roasting.

The Climate Designers Party Program: event design & messaging strategy

No more doom and gloom - that's the mission of the Climate Designers. They are on a mission to show the world that saving the planet can - and should- be fun! I partnered with them to create a two-week virtual event (their first ever!). I oversaw communications and programming, as well as participated in managing operations.


brand rosa: creating an umbrella brand

Rosa has been running three brands - two only by word of mouth, with no web presence. She came to me to figure out how to connect everything she is doing and position herself as a thought leader, while also increasing her impact. I created an Umbrella Brand, which we called, Brand Rosa.

Brand Rosa

⓵ Conduct two interviews, perform Brand Review and market research, and create Brand Strategy workbook, tailored to Rosa's needs.

⓶ Use Brand Strategy workbook and subsequent meetings with Rosa to create an Umbrella Brand that houses all three previous brands, gives her room to grow, increases impact, captures her core values and message, and houses her thought leadership.

After sourcing fonts, colors, and style, I not only wrote the copy, but actually designed and built her website.

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

I created the "user journey" as a brand strategy map to help Rosa conceptualize what the umbrella brand would do.


Storyteller Coffee


The Climate Designers Party Program

Step 1: Create and present a complete program strategy and first draft messaging.

The founders were new to this type and scale of an event, but had created an idea of what they wanted to do based on what they saw as gaps in existing design conferences. We had two phone calls, and then I created a big picture program strategy that included language to be used in messaging and promotions.

They loved it, and we were off.

Strategy Portfolio by LaKay Cornell

Step 2: Be sure all communications are in line with messaging goals and values of event and organization.

Almost from day 1, I created or reviewed everything that was sent out: call for speakers, topic ideas, blog posts, sponsorship deck, promotion + partnership emails, and social media posts.

Examples

Sponsorship Deck

Sponsorhip Deck by LaKay Cornell

design

The Change we seek provided the inspiration for the event

In 2019, I was hired to create a brunch awareness event for Florida for Good. It was imperative that the brunch embody the values of Florida for Good: sustainability, equality, & impact.

The theme was an old-time-southern-family-meal. We started with a staple of the south - biscuits - and expanded from there.

The goals were:
• to infuse elegance without increasing consumption or expense
• to serve comfort food that would make people feel at home
• to make each person attending feel special, and thank them for running a values-based business.

a mix of vintage & modern decor set the mood

the final touch: Fresh, local, beautiful food that didn't have to be kept warm


A moment of inspiration leads the whole project

In 2019, I was hired to upgrade a recently purchased RV and take from RV Decor to Tiny Airbnb. The owner had the following requirements:
• eco-friendly/sustainable,
• Florida Tropical
• as many local purchases as possible

I start design projects off with one item that becomes the North Star for the whole project.

In this case, it was this piece of art created by a local artist. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it had the right vibe for the project, capturing all three of the owner's desired elements: eco, local, & "Florida."

In a small space, the kitchen sets the tone

(a) wine glasses with green palm fronds in various shades bring in that true Florida feeling without being cliché & help ground the lighter, brighter colors of the other kitchen accessories
(b), (c) tropical themed plates with a gilded edge uplevel Florida kitsch & leave guests with the experience of a boutique hotel
(d) vintage juice glasses incorporate sustainability & remind everyone of happy mornings and abundant memories at grandma's house
(e) the oversized earthenware bowl blends sustainability & minimalism to balance the business of other pieces and channel that gorgeous Florida sunshine



The result is a bright, beautiful space inviting guests to lean into the lazy, St. Augustine vibe


As I stand at the corner selling my products, my program, my person -
hoping today is the day I make enough money
to feed my family
or save for retirement,
I am pushed against a tree by the mass of whiteness that surrounds me.

If I step away from the tree,
I will surely be engulfed by the mass and have no choice but to
fall in lockstep
with this amoeba of allegiance to the monsters who rule our land,
as it propels them toward a lavish ball.

Monsters – who perch on chairs made of moral endorphins,
which sit squarely on the poles made of the souls
of the potential of everyone they
have sucked dry.

Yes, I could step away from the tree and let myself be swirled away, for
I
too
am
white.

It’s true.
Particularly when added to an identity casserole
that includes the occasional y’all and bless their heart
or Tim McGraw making me cry on a cool October night,
the largest organ of my body,
mistakenly tells many people
that I am on the side of the amoeba.

Would it be the worst thing?
I am so tired.
This is my moment of truth.
It would feel good to rest.

No – I’m not going out like that.

I WAS NOT PUT ON THIS EARTH TO REST.
I WAS BIRTHED TO MOVE MOUNTAINS.

And kill monsters.
Instead, I climb the tree.
And, as I sit in its branches,
I connect to the parts of me that aren’t seen;
the parts that put me in the group of
people-they-wish-weren’t-here-at-all;
the parts that fuel my resistance.

As my eyes adjust to the stark contrast
between the sea of white below me
and the dark of night that surrounds me
I realize I am not the only person in a tree.

In fact, there are trees as far as my eyes can register
and each one holds a warrior in its branches.

Here we sit in our trees –
like the people standing at the tower of Babel
the day language was created;
the music from the ballroom too loud for us to talk over
and the trees too far apart for us to feel connected.

The monsters dance away, long into the night,
while the amoeba that supports them,
even to its own demise,
swirls below us,
ever spreading further and further through the land;
ever keeping us separate from each other.

I look around.
There are so many of us!
Surely our numbers are finally enough
that we can win this mess of a masquerade.

Come close.
This is the moment that changes everything.
We the People have to get this part -

WE CANNOT WIN
BECAUSE WE DO NOT KNOW
THAT WE ARE ON THE SAME SIDE.

The monsters-in-charge have created a divide
that we have climbed into like a hammock.

We have pushed the Kool-Aid of
we are more different than the same
through the needle and
into the veins of our communities.
And each nod that follows that needle
and checks us into the high of REM
gets a little longer and a lot more pleasant.

And when the nod wears off and we are jonesing for our next fix,
we wear ourselves out
screaming as loud as we can,
or at least louder than the person in the next closest tree.

And this point in my tale is where I declare
that this is why
we are all still fighting for the same things
people who look like us,
people who hurt like us,
and people who struggle like us,
have been fighting for
longer than the oldest of us
has been around.

BECAUSE OUR STRUGGLES ARE UNIQUE,
WE BELIEVE THAT OUR FIGHT IS SEPARATE.

Our hearts and souls are blinded to the one fact that could unite us:
the true villains in our tragedies are always Capitalism and Patriarchy
and all of our problems -
however unique they are to our identities -
are always a result
of the systems
created by those monsters.

The monsters, however, have only one problem and one goal.

WE are their problem
and keeping us from transforming
from a one-celled organism that swallows
its prey, without ever slowing down,
as it moves freely through space and time,

into the Hydra we are called to be -
is their ONLY goal.

Hydra, a maligned womxn who refuses to be taken down by those in charge
and, every time one of those fuckers cuts off one of her snakeheads,
two more grow in its place.

Hydra, who, like the poet Nikkita Gill,
smiles and says,
I AM BOTH WAR AND WOMXN AND YOU CANNOT STOP ME.

This is not the time for not kumbaya or
people all over the world joining hands.
We are past the point of
love is all you need and the
day of pull your own chair up to the table
or even
make your own damn table.

THIS IS SMACK DOWN ONE OF US AND TWO MORE WILL RISE IN THEIR PLACE.

True Revolution.
Revolution, which can only come when
people are starving
and can no longer be satiated
by the rhetoric from the monsters in power.

Revolution, which can only succeed
when the number of people who realize
that the monsters are the reason they are hungry
becomes greater
than the number of people
who believe
they are hungrier
than everyone else.