Dana McMahan joined the faculty in 2008.

Prior to coming to the school, McMahan began her own fashion and lifestyle company that includes retail operations, product sourcing and design, interior design and environmental design. She formed the company after more than a decade as an advertising and marketing creative and continues to run it today. She is also a founding partner of several other companies in the lifestyle category.

McMahan began her career in advertising as an art director at New York’s McCann-Erickson and creative director at Charron, Schwartz and Partners. Upon moving to North Carolina, she consulted extensively with McKinney as a creative in new business. Her national and global clients have included L’Oreal, Tiffany & Company, Coca-Cola, ABC Network, Pernod Ricard Spirits, Disney and Kate Spade, to name a few. She’s also worked with an extensive roster of local and regional nonprofits. Most notably she was part of the leadership teams that opened SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals and Chapel Hill’s Kidzu Children's Museum. 

A specialist in design thinking, she founded Workroom in 2009, as a product and experiential design incubator in the School of Journalism and Media focused on fashion and lifestyle brands. The program has expanded extensively, winning grants from the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, the Triad Foundation, the Curtis Media Foundation and, in 2016, a permanent endowment from the Goodwyn Family Foundation. Rebranded Workroom FashionMash in 2016, the program is now home to the Certificate in Fashion Communication and partners extensively with brands across the globe.

McMahan is the 2011 recipient of the Ed Vick Prize for Innovation in Teaching, was honored with the David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award in 2014 and received the Chancellor's Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Award in 2019.


  • M.F.A, Full Sail University
  • B.F.A., James Madison University