Kari Morrow: It’s Not All Business at Whitman

Most students at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management recognize Kari Morrow as the program manager of the Goodman IMPRESS Program. Since August of 2017, she has helped to facilitate hands-on learning opportunities to prepare business students for the workforce. Morrow finds it very rewarding to see the students who were sophomores when she began her role thrive as current seniors receiving job offers and utilizing the soft skills the IMPRESS program has helped them gain. 

Morrow recognizes that her job may seem cut and dry. She also understands that it’s easy for people to assume that everyone in Whitman comes from a business background, but that is hardly the case. Morrow explains that “being able to develop programs is a creative outlet.” 

Most people don’t know just how creative Morrow is outside of developing the IMPRESS program. She was raised in Atlanta until the age of 16 when her family moved to Upstate New York.  Morrow notes, “I had trouble adjusting, so photography was that one thing that grounded me.” 

(Congeal (left) and Splitting (right) are from Morrow’s senior portfolio Repulsing Attraction). 

Morrow enjoys abstract portrait photography. Her family used to own an auto shop business. “We had cars from the 1950s and I would focus on parts of the cars. I would take something you didn’t know and make you think twice,” she shares. 

(Morrow working on photography at Cazenovia College).

Morrow recalls her career path that merged art and program development, “It was kind of a funny progression. My undergrad is in photography. It was at the height of the recession when I graduated from Caz College, which is a very small liberal arts school. We were all required to do an internship. This was 2009, no photographer wanted to take anyone. I got lucky and got an internship at a for-profit gallery in Syracuse.” 

Afterward, Morrow pursued a graduate degree in museum studies because she enjoyed exhibition design. “I wanted to be a collection manager; I knew I didn’t want to do education. However, when I graduated in December of 2011 there was temporary work at the Johnson Museum of Art in their education department… six months turned into six years.” 

(Morrow (left) teaching students at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University).

At one point, while her colleagues were on maternity leave, she juggled three roles at one time: student engagement, public programming and promoting the K-12 activities. However, once her teammates returned, her role in managing student engagement remained.  

Morrow desired to progress her career more. She explains, “there are always ways to pivot. It’s important to find what your strengths are and what is connected in your past and how to market that. You have to put aside the fact that I was working in a museum, I was working with students developing programs.” This mindset is what helped her land her current career at Whitman. 

Although working with students and within the business world is not where Morrow expected to be, she says, “I always see myself doing something with programs and education.” 

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Maya Bingaman
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