Meet the Digital Corps Staff

When Ball State University tour guides walk past the Digital Corps, they talk about our student workers and what kind of work they do for the University. While it is true that our students do innovative, creative work, they are supported by our ten full-time staff members who give them the tools and resources they need to succeed.  

Brandon Smith | Executive Director of the Digital Corps

As the head of the staff at the Digital Corps, Brandon Smith’s primary responsibility is to make sure that the rest of the staff and the students have the resources, time, and technology they need to complete the projects that come through the office. He always strives to make sure the Corps has interesting projects and clients to work with, as well as ensuring that everyone has the right training, computers, cameras, and even time, so there are no roadblocks in the way of students learning and being creative. Smith also handles all client communication for each Digital Corps project. 

“One thing that I really enjoy [about my job] is no two projects are the same, so coming into work every day is never the same. The projects differ day to day, semester to semester, and year to year, which is exciting. There’s always a new challenge. There’s always a new client. There’s always a new way to tackle a project,” Smith said. “The other thing is I really just enjoy working with the students. Digital Corps students are unique in that they are very competent and very professional and do really great work. However, they also know that there are still things that they can learn. So, I get to do both of those things as well. I get to learn from them, but I also get to be a bit of a teacher and help advise and make sure that they grow in their knowledge as well.” 

Fun fact: Smith was the first person to lose his lunch on NASA’s C9 zero gravity plane. He was given a plaque that hangs on his wall at home with the honor. 

Smith has an extensive background in television production. Before landing different positions at Ball State, he spent time working with Disney’s original program department and made programming for both ABC and Disney. Then, he accepted a position within the Teachers College to work for the Ball State Electronic Field Trips program before moving to the Digital Corps. 

“I think all of those jobs, all those positions, made me curious about technology. It made me appreciate technology, and it made me a more creative person. So even though I’m not a developer, I’m not a designer, I like to think that I can appreciate what those folks do, and we can have intelligent conversations together and really create good things,” Smith said. “Being a part of video production and the way that stuff is structured and managed, really prepared me to lead and manage and structure things here.” 

Riley Paulsen | Assistant Director of the Digital Corps

Riley Paulsen helps steer the design direction of projects that we work on at the Digital Corps and also ensures that everyone has the technical skills and resources they need to get their tasks done. Paulsen’s biggest goal is to try to get students to build and develop new skill sets so they can move to a point where they’re comfortable learning on their own so that way, after graduation, they can be productive individuals who are interested in being lifelong learners. 

“A big part of my personality is that I can very easily synthesize and learn new information. Figuring out how to explain that, as best as possible, and as streamlined as possible to people is a really big part of what I like to do,” Paulsen said. “I’m really committed to making sure everybody doesn’t fall into the same pitfalls or run into the same struggles that I ran into as I was learning this stuff.” 

Fun fact: Paulsen enjoys solo canoeing trips and vacation destinations to designated wilderness areas. 

When Paulsen isn’t tending to his Digital Corps responsibilities, he does extensive freelance work in multiple industries. The main things he does in the tech industry are website design and development, and advanced WordPress integrations within websites. Paulsen has worked with major media companies, the National Park System, and others to produce websites, web systems, digital conferences, and other digital assets. On top of that work, the bulk of his time is taken up by wedding photography. 

“Having a wide variety of skills helps make sure that I can think through some of the problems that we’re going to run into when we’re making something that’s new here, or doing something that we haven’t done before,” Paulsen said. “It’s useful to have somebody that has experienced some of that before, has worked in some of those fields, to help guide things and steer the directions. That doesn’t mean that I do all the work or take control, but knowing how to gently course-correct is an important part of [the job].” 

Stuart Sipahigil | User Experience Team Lead

Stuart Sipahigil is the original founder of the User Experience Team at the Digital Corps in 2015 and he was the UX Team lead through 2017. He returned to that role in 2022—a role to which he brings over 20 years of industry experience in UX and interaction design.  

Fun Fact: A fun fact about Sipahigil is that he met John F. Kennedy when he was a baby. 

His goal is to help Digital Corps students better understand and define end user goals and requirements before seeking solutions. Sipahigil has a B.S. in Environmental Design from Ball State, to which he credits his flexibility as a designer in industries ranging from electrical grid power transformers to software applications and Fortune 500 company websites. 

“I try to find small goals and wins so that as my students are moving along in their progress, they get recognized and noticed for that accomplishment.” 

Sipahigil thinks user experience needs to always be on the full front of technology, and that we want to make sure we are not using technology for technology’s sake. Our job is to make sure that we keep the user in mind.  

Maggie Lewis | Communication Team Lead

Maggie Lewis leads the Digital Corps Communication Team and works on special communication projects for Information Technology. With her effective communication skills, her biggest objective is to create confidence in students’ writing and motivate them to find their future careers.  

“I try to motivate my students by rewarding good work. I feel like people work better when they are being recognized and appreciated for the work that they do. I also try to help motivate them by encouraging them to do things on their own and not micromanage so much.” 

She was first hired at the Digital Corps in 2018 as an undergraduate student on the Communication Team. After two years of gaining experience in the marketing field, Lewis returned in March of 2023 as the first ever Communication Lead at the Digital Corps. She has a background in creating content for social media, websites, and overseeing members within the workplace.  

Fun Fact: Justin Bieber follows Lewis on Twitter.  

Lewis’ experience in coaching soccer has transferred over to her position at the Digital Corps and brings great leadership skills when working with students. Pushing past her insecurities of being so young, she has strived to become a reputable leader by encouraging teamwork and trusting her students to get work done without being micromanaged. 

Elle Kreamer | Video Producer

Elle Kreamer joined the Digital Corps in 2023 as a video producer for the Lifetime Learning initiative. She holds two B.A. degrees in Journalism and Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Indiana University. In her previous experience, Kreamer was a managing editor of Current in Zionsville, and an assistant video editor and production assistant with Scofield Digital Storytelling and Ferguson Advertising.  

With her storytelling expertise, she pieces together moving parts of the Lifetime Learning Initiative, while also instructing students at the Digital Corps. Kreamer has a passion for freelance photography, and one of her inspirations is environmental photojournalism from National Geographic. 

“I like freelance photography because it allows me to have a creative and passionate outlet outside of what I do at work. It keeps my skills sharp as well. I have had a passion for science and the environment since I was a little kid. I care about nature and animals. I applied to veterinary school but then decided not to go and got a degree in journalism instead once I found out that degrees don’t matter when it comes to landing a job at National Geographic. For now, I do a lot of photo and video volunteer work for local environmental organizations. I enjoy that probably more than my freelance stuff.” 

Fun Fact: Kreamer loves thrifting and can speak a little bit of Danish. 

Kreamer’s main goal when she started working at Digital Corps was to streamline the workflow between the Lifetime Learning Initiative and our project teams.  

“I don’t work with Lifetime Learning as much anymore; I just help lead video projects and side projects. My main goal is to make sure that I am learning alongside the students. I didn’t do media production in school, so I feel like I still have a lot to learn but also a lot to teach the students.  

Kreamer is confident in her post production experience and enjoys showing the students how to enhance their skills in that area. She believes teaching students forces her to become an expert at her craft and wants other people to be able to get to that point too.  

Hunter Wallace | Development Team Lead

Hunter Wallace leads the Development Team at the Digital Corps. He graduated from Ball State with a B.S. in Computer Science in 2021. Upon graduation, he worked for a robotics startup company specializing in installations and robot packaging, and a corporate software engineering firm specializing in Salesforce programming.  

Fun Fact: Wallace won a Cane’s Summer Giveaway that included a water bottle, towel, and swim trunks.  

Then, in May 2023, he finally found his way to the Digital Corps. His hands-on experience in the robotics industry and his knowledge of corporate life allows him to teach students the necessary development tools and soft skills needed to succeed post-graduation.  

“A lot of my past experience was in a corporate environment, specifically in the software engineering and healthcare sectors. They were slow paced and boring, and they empowered me to want more and to create a better tone surrounding software education here at the Corps.”  

Wallace’s goal at the Digital Corps is to create an environment where coding is both fun and accessible while also cultivating a welcoming environment and community.  

“The largest focus for me is forever learning. I am no different than someone starting their first day of college, we are all learning together every day. I’m big on promoting more questions and curiosity.”  

Annie Ashbrook | Training Coordinator

In January 2024, the Digital Corps welcomed Annie Ashbrook to the office as a Training Coordinator. Ashbrook earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication Studies from Ball State, and is set to earn her master’s in Communication Studies in the spring of 2024. Her goal is to enhance the onboarding process at the Digital Corps and provide support and resources for current students.  

“The most exciting part of my role here at the Corps is getting to work with students and cross campus faculty who are all excited about learning new tools and technology.”  

She is passionate about education and lifelong learning, and specifically enjoys working with adult learners. Ashbrook values the importance of giving individuals space to make mistakes and learn from them when pursuing their education.  

Fun fact: Ashbrook won $100 on a slot machine and then $50 on a lottery ticket in the same day.  

Thanks to her teaching background and dedication to lifelong learning, Ashbrook plays a key role in assisting trainees in reaching their full potential. Before the Corps she worked with 7th-12th graders and undergraduates across many different disciplines, so she feels confident working with multiple generations across many different interests.  

Krista Finley | Project Management Team Lead

Our newest staff member, Krista Finley, organizes and keeps track of all the projects that we do at the Digital Corps, and oversees, trains, and aids our Project Management Team. With all the working knowledge of each project that comes through our door, she is the go-to staff member for students who have questions about project tasks or need help managing workloads. 

Fun fact: Finley loves golfing. Her daughter is also an avid golfer, so she enjoys spending time with her and sharing their love for the sport. 

“For the last five years I’ve been working as a project manager, so, I know all of the language and all of the aspects that come with project management in the digital world,” Finley said. 

Before joining the Digital Corps, Finley was an Account Executive for MediaFuel. While there, she managed projects for the agency’s biggest company, a fiberglass pool manufacturer. Finley’s experience with big clients and overseeing extensive projects for a fast-paced agency helps her understand the roadblocks students might face in our agency setting and walk them through overcoming them. As our Project Manager, Finley will also supervise the implementation of our new project management software that we will use to track progress, deadlines, and task completion. 

Our Digital Corps staff comes from different backgrounds, experiences, and fields, but they all share the same passion for learning new technology and wanting the best for our student workers. As mentors and teachers, each staff member holds a unique role and aids in helping students reach their professional goals. 

With our unique agency setup, having a professional set of staff members allows our students to take the time to learn and grow through controlled failure and the advice of experienced industry leaders. 

Josh Shaffer | Designer

With two roles to fill, Josh Shaffer’s job is split into two different fields. As the co-leader of the Design Team, Shaffer teaches and guides the Design students on their projects to help them be ready for jobs in the field while increasing and improving their own technical skills. The other part of his job is being a Designer. He takes on big jobs that come in from the University that either need a quick turnaround time that is too fast for students or have a scope too large for them.  

“I like that I get to create [at the Digital Corps] and that it’s not limited to any one thing. It’s kind of all over the place—whether it’s video, or illustration, or design, or even web, like coding,” Shaffer said. 

Fun fact: Shaffer has synesthesia, so he experiences his senses through other ones. 

Before coming to the Digital Corps, Shaffer was a freelance illustrator. He did web design and web work for local businesses, but eventually got more into design and switched to illustration. Shaffer’s freelance background gave him a wider view of design as a whole and experience working in the private sector, which is different from a public entity like Ball State. His knowledge within the field helps him mentor our Designers and prepare them for their professional careers post-graduation. 

Kallen Brooks | Video Team Lead

Kallen Brooks leads the Video Team at the Digital Corps. He oversees every video project and Video Team member, striving to incorporate teachings that best equip them with industry knowledge. When the students go on shoots, he oversees each aspect of the shoot to ensure that cameras are set up right, lighting is correct, and the students are prepared for their duties.  

“It’s great working with my students. I try to make the environment fun but also one that is constantly developing. We are always brainstorming new concepts and it’s fun to see their creativity be unleashed.”  

He also creates a fun and welcoming culture where the students feel loved and appreciated. Brooks received his B.S. in Photography from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2019. Before joining the Digital Corps, Brooks was a freelance videographer and photographer, taught eighth grade math, and served as the Director of Videography at Indiana Wesleyan University.  

Fun Fact: Brooks has been to the meteor in Iceland that may have made the dinosaurs extinct. It is called the Grindavik.  

Brooks’ background as a teacher and experience as a videographer allows him to guide the Video Team, support them, and help them reach their full potential. In the future, Brooks would love to see his students expand their unique ideas and be a resource for art and creativity.  

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