Don Waisanen is an associate professor in the Baruch College, CUNY School of Public and International Affairs, where he teaches courses and workshops in public communication—including executive speech training, communication strategy, media analysis, and seminars on leadership, improvisation, and humor. As both a scholar and practitioner, Don has made it his life’s work to understand and apply cutting-edge insights about communication to people’s everyday lives. Since “every human advancement or reversal can be understood through communication” (Walter Annenberg), he has published over 30 scholarly articles on the subject, covering topics from strategies in public speaking to the ways that organizations and governments can better communicate with citizens.
The best part of his job is seeing people experience profound growth in their communication both in and outside the classroom. Given the need to scale this work across society, he founded Communication Upward to collaborate with individuals and groups of all sizes in communication-related workshops and presentations, speech coaching and writing, and consulting and educational projects aimed at improving communication skills and fostering more democratic conditions throughout the world.
He is currently working on several book projects, including works on public storytelling, communication and transnational social change, and the emerging connections between leadership, improvisation, and communication for professionals at all levels. He also writes for The Huffington Post, has served on the board of the nonprofit Resilience Advocacy Project, and has been an improvisational comedian at theaters in Los Angeles and New York for close to two decades. Previously, Don was a Coro Fellow and worked in broadcast journalism, as a speechwriter, and on political campaigns. He received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.