Cecily Tyler '97

Boston, Storyteller

Cecily TyperMaybe, Cecily Tyler ’97 has come to think, stories can be more than just stories.

“I want to be able to talk about solutions,” says Tyler, an independent filmmaker and producer on a range of film and television projects. “If you’re just reporting the problems, people only know how to speak about problems. If you offer language as a problem-solving tool, people will begin to talk about the solution, people will begin to act in the solution.”

Since graduating from Sarah Lawrence, Tyler has told a lot of stories: of inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola; a forensic pathologist; young practitioners of the Brazilian martial art of capoeira; and the makeover subjects in What Not to Wear. She helped develop a multimedia educational initiative called "Teach the Teachers" for teachers and staff members at YouthBuild USA, a program funded by the US Department of Labor aimed at guiding young people who might not have finished high school into lasting jobs. The initiative examines best practices for gang transition, post-program placement, sustainability, and other topics pertinent to the YouthBuild USA community.

“If you’re just reporting the problems, people only know how to speak about problems.”

More recently Tyler has served as the producer on a documentary about Dungeons & Dragons, and she was the Boston producer for the One Day on Earth documentary project. “It asked filmmakers to—all on the same day, April 26, 2014—go out and film what they loved about their city,” she says, “what they’re challenged by in their city, and how they want to serve their city for the next 20 years.”

This summer Tyler entered the mid-career master’s program in public administration at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She wants to support social entrepreneurship and sustainability for the arts, and she wants to improve her skills at producing videos and interactive media that inspire social good. “Seeking to establish where we are doing things right,” she says, “sometimes is just as important as critiquing where we’ve done something wrong.”