About Me

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I co-scope challenges with project sponsors, engage stakeholders to understand all points of view, highlight insights to reframe perspectives, generate alternative solutions and find moments to test ideas, iterate, build in feedback loops and develop plans of action to execute on ideas. Currently I am an experience designer for Kaiser Permanente. Previously, I was the Associate Director of Design for America where under my leadership the program grew from 40 college students at one university to 1,000 students at 29 universities throughout the US where interdisciplinary teams used creative problem solving for local and social good. My past work and students have been discussed in publications and blogs such as Fast Company, Chicago Tribune, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Core77 and more. I have given talks at conferences such as TEDx, IDSA, IxDA, Better Word by Design, and given workshops at college campuses across the country. I earned my masters in Organizational Change from Northwestern University and a BFA in industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design and have taught design and engineering at both universities.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Millenium Campus Conference

This Sunday I had the opportunity to attend part of the Inaugural Millennium Campus Conference, hosted by MIT's Global Poverty Initiative. The company I work for participated in the Career Fair, and afterwards we headed over to the Keynote event: a dual conversation/performance with John Legend and Jeffrey Sachs. What do a 5 time Grammy award winning R&B artist, and a leading economist and Professor at Columbia University have in common? The beginning of this answer starts with the the Millennium Development Goals, followed by the Millennium Villages Project, and finishes off with the Show Me Campaign.

All three of facets of this answer are all working fervently to improve the quality of life for the poor throughout the world, and to eradicate this poverty and injustice. Now, this topic can lend itself to a long in depth conversation. However, rather than follow this path, I shall ask a question:

"Once these 'developing' nations become 'developed' what type of infrastructure do we need in place to ensure that their resource consumption and pollution rate does not mimic that of the West?"

(This is a question I asked during the Q & A session after JL & JS's presentation. )

Indeed, we certainly want the "other 90%" of the population to have access to the same opportunities and resources as the top 10%, or at least come closer to bridging this gap. But with Globalization on the rise, the West seems to be setting the standard for life, luxury, and over consumption. Once the rest of the world catches up, as is already happening in China and India, how do we track our resources to ensure we do not run out?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

RISD Portfolio Review

On Tuesday, I got to have one of my first alumni experiences: being a critic for RISD's ID/Furniture Portfolio Review. It was certainly an interesting experience to finally be sitting on the other side of the table. I remember the year before, seeing a girl I knew, who had just graduated, being a critic for the Staples table. I told myself, "I want to do that someday."

As someone who obsessed over my own portfolio, this was a great opportunity to nitpick on other's work besides my own. I'm a stickler for alignment, so watch out!

Tips for making a Portfolio:

Getting Started:

1.Content- You want to tell the story of who you are as a designer, and as a person. It's always nice to start out with a resume or an introduction about yourself. Once you've decided what projects to include, place all the images you think you are going to use into an InDesign file, so you can start to see how the images interact with each other. Find a way to categorize your projects, and find common themes to help express your interests and focus.

Some people want to see a lot of process, and others just want to see the money shot. Some students had nice iterations where the portfolio had the glamour shots, and they then had an additional folder full of sketches. I preferred this the best, because I like to know what the project is, and then if I'm interested I'll want to learn more about the process. It's nice to give people that choice.

2.Page Size- Once you know how much space you need, you can determine your page size. This size should be a NON-standard size (i.e. preferably not 8.5" x 11", it's a bit dull) and there should be enough room for plenty of white space.

3.Layout- Once you know the content, and page size, you can start developing a consistent layout for your format. Try fiddling with a couple different Master Pages in InDesign and see what works best. Remember to keep in mind the hierarchy of information. What is the most important, and how can you best convey your project with as FEW words as possible. Most people are not going to take the time to sit and read an entire paragraph. You want to make sure your font, alignments, and grids have a sense of consistency, without being too redundant. Yes, it's a delicate balance.

4.Paper Type- Before everything is done and ready to go, if you're taking your portfolio to an in-person portfolio, it's highly recommended that you bring a printed version. For this, you will need to consider what type of paper you will use, and where you are printing it. For ink-jet, on say your home Epson, I recommend double sided matte paper. If you're taking it to say RISD prints, a thin high-gloss looks nice when accompanied by some full bleed images. But be careful with gloss paper that it does not reflect your images too much, making it difficult to see.

5.Binding- Binding is an important decision as it determines your interaction with the viewer. Whether you hand it to them to flip through, or if you hold it and walk them through your work. For a not so thick book this can be pamphlet/staple bound. If you have a thick book, with lots of pages, and you want someone to be able to flip through the pages very easily, a spiral bound ( I prefer clear or white) is good for this, though I do not feel it always looks the best. Perfect bind looks great, but is more difficult to have the pages lay flat, and sometimes poor binding can result in pages falling out. There are more labor intensive options such as the accordion bind, which is a bit of a waste of paper, but if connected at the rim, makes for easy page turning. And there are some other hand sewn binding techniques which can turn out nicely if done right such as the coptic stitch or Japanese bind. There are of course almost endless ways to bind your portfolio, it doesn't even necessarily need to be a "book" so explore your options, ask people what they are doing, get some inspiration and find what best represents you.

6. Additional Formats- Additional formats are also useful including: printed teasers, a pdf teaser, a pdf portfolio, a website, and let's not forget...business cards are always great to include.

Your portfolio should be approached like any design project, with creativity and thoroughness. Do your research, and show your potential employee what you're made of.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Innovation vs. Necessity and Sustainability

There is no doubt that creative expression and the desire for constant technological innovation is somehow ingrained in human nature. Artists will always create art, writers will always write, and scientists will always conduct research. But for what end is this driving pulse? Is innovation an end in itself? How often is this quest for continual improvement derived out of want, rather than necessity?

Want vs. Need

How do we tap into what may just be the world's most valuable renewable resource, creativity, to continually address needs as oppose to wants. Or has our culture become so dependent on "wants", that it is now needed? What would our society, the Western World, look like if we lived based on need, rather than wants, and if we designed for needs rather than wants? Looking at Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we see the basic necessities: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion. (Ok, I question the “necessity” of sex. I see this as a basic tenant for survival of the entire species, pro-creation, rather than a daily need)

But how much of the world is deprived of these basic necessities?

A quick synopsis to this answer:

Food: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 25,000 people died of starvation every day in 2003.

As of the year 2000, 27 percent of the populations of lesser developed countries did not have access to safe drinking water

diarrhea kills about four million people in developing countries each year, and about 300-500 children in the U.S.

An estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless.

And what are we as designers doing to address these needs?

Project H
has a good overview.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Top 5 Design Blog Recommendations

Top 5 Design Blog recommendations from Molly Rosenberg:

Innovation Playground by Innovation Strategist Idris Mootee-

Logic + Emotion by David Armano-

swissmiss by Tina Roth Eisenberg -

BeHance -

DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Thanks Molly!