Photo of Claire Dorsett
Claire Dorsett

Claire Dorsett named executive director of Sears think[box]

Claire Dorsett is coming home. 

Dorsett, who grew up in Chardon and explored the campus of Case Western Reserve University as a high school student during summer learning programs, is returning to Northeast Ohio to lead Sears think[box].

Dorsett brings with her a wealth of experience in education, innovation and leadership, making her well-positioned to lead the nation’s largest university-based open-access innovation and makerspace. She will begin her appointment as executive director July 1.

“Claire’s dedication to maker spaces is truly remarkable,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Joy K. Ward. “On top of that, she is an incredible advocate for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, consistently championing the region’s growth and development. Her leadership will undoubtedly drive think[box] as a world leader in innovation spaces.”

Dorsett comes to Case Western Reserve after serving as director of STEM programming at The Fab Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit that supports a growing network of over 2,700 design and fabrication labs worldwide. There, her focus was on accessibility; she spearheaded the strategic visioning and educational program development for Fab-in-a-Box, an initiative focused on introducing digital fabrication technologies to resource-constrained environments to help aspiring innovators bring their ideas to life.

Prior to her time at The Fab Foundation, she spent nearly five years serving in various roles at the Great Lakes Science Center—including as associate director of strategic content for exhibits and education.

Dorsett was first introduced to Sears think[box] in late 2018 when a colleague suggested the facility as a way to expand the science center’s fabrication capabilities.

“After seeing the space, I immediately scheduled a tour for the rest of my team. Only three floors were open at the time, but I was amazed at the equipment and trainings offered,” she said. 

And it was personal: That first visit to Sears think[box] sparked Dorsett’s interest in digital fabrication and she was hooked.

Dorsett holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, a Graduate Certificate in Book, Magazine, and Digital Publishing from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and a Master of Education in Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Now, she is eager to put her education and experience to work in her hometown.

“I believe in Northeast Ohio,” she said. “There’s so much innovation coming to Cleveland, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Vision for the future

In her new role at Case Western Reserve, Dorsett will oversee all aspects of the 50,000-square-foot Sears think[box] facility. She will lead a team of professionals and student technicians, shaping the future of innovation, entrepreneurship, and making on campus and beyond.

While Sears think[box] hosts 80,000 users annually, Dorsett envisions making the space even more welcoming by lowering perceived barriers to entry and promoting confidence in users. Dorsett also hopes to create a culture in which users don’t fear failure.

“There’s a lot to be said for reframing failure,” Dorsett said. “I think a lot of us are worried about going into a place like think[box] because we’re afraid we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re going to fail,” she continued. “But as long as we have the proper safety frameworks in place, failure is fine. Failure is, in fact, celebrated and necessary in the making and fabrication process because it’s how you learn.”

With a humanities background herself, Dorsett also aims to broaden the perception of think[box] as an inclusive space for learners from all walks of life. Despite its comprehensive resources spanning design, ideation, prototyping, fabrication, and entrepreneurship, some individuals may not immediately recognize its relevance to their interests. 

“No matter what your curriculum might be in the classroom, there are ways think[box] can bring that learning to life,” Dorsett said. “The team that’s already there has done such an incredible job. Now, it’s just about supporting them in that next step.”