Meet the Faculty: Lisa Peyton

Lisa Peyton and her dog, Betty, pose together for a portraitLisa Peyton, Immersive and Strategic Communications Instructor, looks forward to long walks in Eugene with her dog, Betty. Photo credit: Sit! Stay Pet Photography.

Name: Lisa Peyton

Position: Immersive and Strategic Communications Instructor

Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia


Favorite quote: “Love and death are the greatest gifts that are given to us. Most are passed on unopened.” —Unknown

Primary research interests: A common thread through the 20-plus years of my career is technology. I believe firmly in the power of technology to help people globally. I’m also interested in social media communications, online communications, and how they impact the world. I think immersive technology will have as significant an impact on the planet as social media when it becomes mainstream.

What sparked your interest in immersive media?

I never felt like I belonged in any group when I was young, making me very shy and hesitant to put myself out there socially. Back in the day of AOL and chat, online communications became a way to break out of my shyness. That has carried over to immersive media. It's this amazing 3D world where you can go and meet people. Immersive media is a great place for introverts to come out of their shell, and that is really what has powered my passion for technology to connect people.

People might have difficulty connecting for many reasons. It could be physical limitations; it could be emotional limitations. Whatever the limitations are preventing someone from connecting to someone in person, online communications can become a vehicle to help them.

And that seems like something that has increasing relevance during this era of COVID-19.

Absolutely. I know Zoom fatigue is a thing, but seeing my friends on Zoom has helped me during an otherwise very dark time. And I think a lot of people would say similar things. Technology came to the rescue in a big way, and people are beginning to understand we really rely on it.

How would you describe teaching’s significance to you?

I don't think I'm stating it too strongly to say I was born to teach. I'm continually trying to learn about myself and the world. Teaching is such an amazing gateway to being able to share that curiosity with others and continue learning.

On LinkedIn, you describe yourself as three things: bleeding-edge technologist, passionate educator, and data-driven strategist. Can you explain how these intersect?

In a nutshell my career has been built on leveraging technology to help businesses educate, inform and connect with their audiences. It's a true intersection of being able to help businesses meet goals, but at the same time protecting the audience and making sure they're getting a good experience.

Being able to prove the ROI [return on investment] and share the data was a compelling offering for clients, and it’s still something driving my strategy work.

I approach all my work from a viewpoint of education, whether I'm educating a client, a business on how to engage with their online communities, teaching in the classroom or teaching coworkers. The education part melts into almost every part of my life.

You are also a senior marketing manager. Are you going to be continuing that role as you teach at SOJC and how does that inform your work?

One of my primary creative outlets is the strategy work I do for clients. I can't see myself giving that up. Not to mention that in the digital communications realm, things change so quickly. For me to really be a valuable teacher, to be valuable to my students, I have to keep doing the work.

Why did you decide to join the SOJC?

First off, my respect for Donna Davis and the work she has done over the years is a huge factor. I taught for her at the Portland campus in spring 2020 and had an amazing experience. What she's doing with immersive technology and the Oregon Reality Lab is really at the center of what I want to be doing. So that's number one.

The second piece is my passion for teaching. I wanted to teach full-time for many, many years and haven't been able to make it work. When this opportunity came up, I couldn't be more thrilled.

Third, the department itself and everybody I met. I interviewed at a few places, and I will say I was so impressed with the SOJC faculty. They were so warm and welcoming. That really helped fuel my decision to accept the position.

What do you hope to accomplish at the SOJC?

I hope to provide value to the students — honing my skills as a teacher and setting the students up for success. Then pioneering immersive communications and being able to help the students look ahead and feel like they are empowered to use some of these cutting-edge techniques in their work. Third is any way that I can help lift the department. I have a global network, and I hope my corporate experience will help the department and the school. If I can do those three things, I'll be really happy.

So, you’re moving to Eugene from Portland. What would you say you're most excited to experience there?

I love exploring new restaurants. It seems to be a very gluten-free, vegan-friendly town, and I'm gluten-free and mostly vegan. I’m thrilled to have some good new options. I know there are lots of beautiful paths down there in Eugene, including on the Willamette River. I'm excited to take my dog, Betty, to explore some of those new places. I have to say I'm very, very excited to be in a college town around faculty and students who are growing, learning and studying.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I teach online fitness classes, both Pilates and cycling. I am also active in my free time. This will shock people, and it's going to not be the norm: I am not a huge hiker, but I love urban walking. My happiest and most meditative time is when I'm walking my dog.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'm super excited to get started with this new chapter in my life. I'm very grateful for all the support that I've been given from the university already, from the faculty (in Eugene), and Donna too.

– Jenni Denekas, class of ’22

Jenni Denekas, class of ’22, is a multimedia journalism and strategic communication dual master's student and the communications and events assistant at SOJC Portland.