Published: March 17, 2021

Cal BrackinMeet Cal Brackin, a graduate at CU Boulder and CEO of On Board Innovations, a civic-minded company using visual strategies to bridge communication gaps between the citizens, professionals, and policymakers. Cal is studying Strategic Communication Design to further develop his design skills and weave them into his passion for community development. Cal created On Board Innovations after seeing the potential of using live illustrating, infographics, and animations to communicate ideas across languages, cultures, and jargon while working with communities in India, Mongolia, and Wyoming.

Cal has been a lifelong artist, working mostly in watercolor and ink, and passionate about civic service. He has served in the AmeriCorps, Peace Corps-Mongolia, William J. Clinton Fellowship to India, Leadership Jackson Hole, Boulder Leadership Fellows, and is a current NVC Cohort Lead. In all of these settings, he found that creative practices enhance community engagement and visionary leadership.

On Board Innovations

At On Board Innovations, Cal acts as a creative consultant with an understanding of how designers are powerful intermediaries between the citizens, professionals, and policymakers.

“Working with people and particularly communities is inherently creative and involves visions that need to be translated into action for making lives better. With On Board Innovations, I often work with the public and professional experts in a field, large or small funding organizations, and policy-makers. I’ve also worked across languages and cultures. Rapidly drawing visuals and putting them up in front of the group helps to bridge communication gaps. When people can literally see the idea being discussed, it removes ambiguity, deflates jargon, and helps people steer in the same direction.”

How to Build a PitchSince moving to Boulder, Colorado, he has found opportunities to work with climate scientists who are trying to communicate their complicated work, local city planners communicating large infrastructure projects, and CU entrepreneurship activities like sketchnotes for the NVC. Check out his website here!

Advice for Current Students

Cal knows the most challenging step is often how to start. He shared three steps that students can take to starting to practice being entrepreneurs:

“1. College is a perfect time for nurturing tangible skills and becoming good at something. It can be a skill that you think is perfectly simple but something you can do for hours with pleasure, for me, it was drawing.

2. Before you think you are ready, go online and find clients on the myriad of websites curating that exchange. Even a small job for $100 will force you to be accountable for practicing something you enjoy - while you get paid!

3. At a point, you’ll learn valuable interpersonal skills from working with clients and develop business savviness to build your business or take your skill sets to a higher place.”

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