Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Meet EPIC2024 Co-chair Carrie Yury!

Carrie Yury headshot

Meet Carrie Yury (she/her), a design leader, artist, and dedicated EPIC member since 2011. Carrie has co-chaired EPIC conference committees, including PechaKucha, salons, and workshops, and presented fantastic work of her own. Carrie is currently a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase, where she leads UX Research teams on Chase’s digital products and channels. She was born in Southern California and has lived in LA County since 2004.

We asked Carrie what led her to EPIC, what her perfect LA day consists of, and what she hopes attendees take away from this year’s conference – the 20th EPIC.

How do you spend your spare time?

I like to be busy. I’m happiest when I’m really involved in life intellectually, emotionally, creatively, and physically. When I’m not organizing the EPIC2024 conference I like to spend time with my family and friends traveling, exercising, hiking, seeing art, and making things. My husband and I are into whatever our daughter is doing. So far this year that has meant attending a lot of marching band events (Go Poly!). I also like learning new things. We are learning to sail, and I’m doing a Women in Product Leadership certificate program from eCornell. Like I said, I like to be busy.

What has inspired you lately, and why?

I’m inspired by the people in my life. I’m inspired by my family–their tenacity and capacity for joy is my absolute bedrock. I’m inspired by my friends–not just their accomplishments but more importantly their ability to lift each other up. I’m inspired by my leadership team at Chase–their ability to handle massive complexity with empathy sets a very high bar. And finally, I’m inspired by my elderly dogs who both had cancer this year–their relentless focus on walks and meal time reminds me to stay present, and celebrate the wins.

How did you first become involved with EPIC?

I was at eLab and Sapient in the 90s with some of EPIC’s early organizers, but when the EPIC conference started, I was back in school getting my MFA. So I knew about EPIC , but didn’t get involved until my first conference in 2011. From my first conference, EPIC has felt like home. I sometimes compare the experience to going to a destination wedding; I get to spend quality time in an amazing place while having meaningful conversations and fun with a few hundred of my closest friends. EPIC feeds me. Every year it’s the place where I learn about what’s new or challenging, and get to grapple with big ideas with some of the smartest and most right-on people I know.

What are some of your favorite EPIC memories?

Dancing in Brazil, hiking a volcano in Hawaii, going on a canal ride in Amsterdam, eating a BUCKET OF COOKIES in Minneapolis…I have so many amazing EPIC memories with so many wonderful people! I have made many lifelong friends at EPIC, and I make new friends every time I go. It’s easy to meet people and bond over these physical experiences, and then you all have something to talk about because of the intellectual content of the conference.

You’ve incorporated many fields and sources of inspiration into your work, from feminist art to agile methods to microbes. Can you reflect on these diverse ways of thinking/doing, and how they enrich your work?

There’s an old myth that EPIC members are all anthropologists working in industry, but it’s never been true. I’m an artist and a design leader. I think it’s important to embrace who you are and follow your interests, because all of that adds up to a more interesting point of view. In fact, when I was re-entering this world after my time in the art world, my friend and mentor Rick Robinson gave me great advice, saying that I shouldn’t ever feel like I had to hide my diverse background because the right employer would value all of my experience. And it’s true; my broad interests and diverse experience all inform my perspective, whether the application area is at work, in my volunteer work, or in my art practice.

What is your relationship to LA? What fascinates, confuses, frustrates, or delights you about Los Angeles?

Southern California is my home, and I love it. What frustrates me is how ill-understood and maligned it is. LA County is massive, it’s incredibly diverse, and it has an enormous impact on the country. But it is often stereotyped or belittled. I find that to be endlessly frustrating. Unless of course we’re talking about Saturday Night Live’s recurring skit,“The Californians,” where no matter what the context is the characters always end up talking about LA driving directions. That is just hilarious because it’s so true. What delights me, other than the endless possibility here, is the ocean.

Can you tell us about your perfect Saturday afternoon in LA?

Pretty much every Saturday afternoon in LA is perfect. 🙂 We sail, take the dogs for a walk, maybe do some errands, then go out to eat in our neighborhood in Long Beach. It’s a good life. But if you’re asking about the City of LA, we’re tourists there. One of our favorite City of Los Angeles itineraries is to go to the Broad Museum and see some art, then either splurge on the roast chicken at Otium next door or take the funicular down to Grand Central Market for tacos.

What do you hope attendees will offer and take away from EPIC2024?

I hope attendees will offer their sharp and vulnerable thoughts, their creativity, and their sense of humor. We are going to need it to build what’s next. And I hope they will take away new and lasting friendships and a sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves that matters and can make a difference.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the EPIC community?

Just that I have a lot of love for this community, and that I’m so grateful that it’s here. It has given me so much over the past 13 years. I’m glad for the opportunity to give back by co-chairing with the hilarious and amazing Lee Cesafsky under the direction of eagle-eye compass EPIC Executive Director Jennifer Collier Jennings. And a huge thanks to the volunteers and presenters who make it all possible!

Now for a lightning round!

Tacos or pizza? I love them both, but we eat tacos probably 2-3 times a week. So tacos.
Beach or mountains? LA has both. We don’t have to choose. That said–beach.
Cats or dogs? Dogs. Obviously.
Cockroaches or mosquitoes? No.
Papers or PKs? PKs, all the way. Sorry, nerds. 😉
Time travel to the past or future? Future.
Favorite music genre? Currently into marching bands.
Go-to karaoke song? Love will keep us together (The Captain and Tenille) but only when I get to sing it with Martha Cotton.
Favorite joke? Inside jokes in my familect. Which is about 80% composed of Brooklyn 99 references.
Favorite social theorist? Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. Or Michel de Certeau.
Favorite joke about a social theorist? I don’t do jokes anymore. I just look at dog memes on Instagram.

You can learn more about EPIC2024 at The premier international conference on ethnography in business, this year’s gathering marks the 20th anniversary of EPIC Conferences, a pivotal moment when society, industry, and ethnography must achieve profound transitions to create liveable futures on the planet. Join us as we re-examine foundations, reckon with displacement, and craft new capacities for generation.