Three Questions with… Amanda Makulec

This content originally appeared as part of The ‘Gale newsletter.

Back in January, the Data Visualization Society held its first ever Annual General Meeting and elected a new Board of Directors — congratulations to all who were elected! The Board will be led by Amanda Makulec, the new DVS Executive Director. In her day job, Amanda is Data Visualization Lead at Excella, where she develops data visualization products for federal, nonprofit, and private sector clients. She has also been active in DVS for years, serving most recently as Operations Director, Nightingale writer, and frequent Slack contributor.

Of course, we couldn’t let her assume her new role without first answering our three burning questions.

1. If you could be any type of chart, what would you be?

I’d choose to be a dot plot. They’re simple enough to be accessible to a wide array of audiences and encode data points precisely, but can be formatted and annotated in so many creative ways in order to be more visually engaging and communicate clearly.

2. If you were stuck on a desert island, what viz would you want to create and what would you use to make it?

I’d create a pair of charts: a calendar to track the date so I don’t wholly lose track of time and a map to plot what I learn about the island and where I can find potable fresh water. I’d look for a flat piece of wood to carve into or use some foraged berries if they have a saturated enough color to use as ink!

3. What is one visualization that has inspired you?

The Emotional Valence of Broadway by Lindsey Poulter. I love the topic (‘show tunes’ is always one of my top categories on my end-of-year Spotify readout) and the dense amount of information packed into a really elegant design. The colors she chose for the more negative/more positive continuum, the small multiple line charts, and the organization of her charts — from a big picture comparison across soundtracks to the details of each musical’s songs — create a delightful experience for the reader and embody great viz design practices.

An excerpt of Lindsey Poulter’s “The Emotional Valence of Broadway”


Claire Santoro is an information designer with a passion for energy and sustainability. For 10 years, Claire has worked with governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and higher education to accelerate climate action by communicating complex information in an engaging, approachable way. Claire holds an M.S. in environmental science from the University of Michigan.