She confesses – with a laugh – that the role can be a bit of a Jill of all trades, but, because of that, it provides her the time and space to focus on what she wants to focus on. That entrepreneurial spirit is a strong element to Safren’s story; and it grew stronger when she went back to purse graduate work.
An International Relations and Affairs major from Lynchburg College, Safren narrowed the scope of her focus for graduate work, earning a Master’s Degree in Urban Design with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in August 2014. “My family moved around a lot when I was a kid; we lived in Arizona, New York, Maryland, Virginia,” she calls. “We always lived in suburbs or the country, yet I’ve always been fascinated by cities because they play such a vital role in how we move forward as a country and as a society.”
That graduate work in urban design introduced Safren to human-centered design thinking and design techniques, all of which left her inspired to get more involved in and connected to Charlotte’s entrepreneurial community.
In addition to her full-time job and a variety of entrepreneurial projects she’s involved with (which include a cultural platform, food kitchen, and healthcare service that influences how urban landscape shapes public health), Safren serves as the Community Outreach Director for Code for Charlotte. An organization known as a “volunteer fire brigade of the 21st century”, Code for Charlotte utilizes design thinking, technology, and open data for civic engagement with and for Charlotte’s local government and community.