Our Origin Story
Ashley Kirsner was fascinated by the ways that people connect, or fail to connect, with each other. She wanted a way to use her psychology research training to facilitate deeper interactions in everyday life, outside of the lab. Her friend, Devin Karbowicz, had a similar desire, and together they founded communiT Boston. Taking the name from the nickname for the local public transportation system ("the T"), communiT was a series of free monthly events held at T stations, designed to provide fun and unique ways for strangers to interact with each other.
Ashley wondered what would happen if these brief interactions with strangers were extended into longer events. The first such event was the “Skip the Small Talk Dinner,” a picnic centered around using cards with thought-provoking questions to help the attendees interact. Ashley expected about fifteen people to show up, but before she knew it, over five hundred people had expressed interest in the Facebook event. The event was such a hit that some participants stayed three hours after the picnic was scheduled to end. From there, Ashley continued to host variations of Skip the Small Talk until landing upon the hugely popular iteration hosted at Aeronaut Brewing Company.
a Bit about Our Founder
Ashley Kirsner, the founder and director of Skip the Small Talk, believes in the efficacy of high-quality person-to-person interaction for improving psychological health. She has conducted research with professors at Cornell University, the Harvard Decision Science Lab, the Harvard Business School, the University of Miami, the Psychotherapy and Emotion Research Lab at Boston University, and McLean Hospital on social and clinical psychology topics ranging from decision-making and implicit biases to facial expressions in borderline personality disorder patients. Ashley gained hands-on therapeutic experience as a suicide hotline phone responder and as a peer counselor at Cornell. Ashley received her B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University and turned down acceptances to doctorate programs in order devote her time to Skip the Small Talk.