Social Innovation at Hot Studio

January 2010 – May 2013

Role: Director of Social Innovation, Creative Lead, Mentor

The Challenge

Hot Studio cared about making the world a better place. That sentiment was deeply embedded in the DNA of the culture, and one of the primary reasons people were drawn to work at hot. I proposed to Hot’s founder, Maria Giudice, that we build on this and create a cross-disciplinary practice specifically dedicated leveraging the power of design for  positive social impact…and that I create, lead and grow it. We knew there would be numerous challenges, and that we’d be forging our own path, but being gutsy and committed, she agreed. We experimented with business & project models in our attempt to maximize our impact with partners.

The Impact

Over two years, the social innovation practice grew and flourished. We developed a working group that undertook a variety of project work, formed a point of view on our commitment to local social innovation, and dove deeply into understanding the social sector; its challenges, opportunities, trends and funding structures. Passion, intellect and phenomenal design skills were brought to bear by many at Hot Studio who wanted to create something of value, personal and social meaning.

Our inspirational design brief came from R. Buckminster Fuller “Our challenge is to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage to anyone”

We began and ran a lunchtime learning series that one of the key contributors to the practice Julie Kim initiated and ran, called “TripleBottomLunch” that brought in speakers as diverse as Adam Dole from Mayo Clinic, Patrice Martin from, Mark Dwight from Rickshaw Bagworks and Alon Salant of Good Eggs.

We founded a lightweight social entrepreneur mentoring program called “Catalyst Sessions” that was run by several designers, and consulted with 25 organizations through our partnerships with Hub Ventures, Code For America and Mozilla Foundation.

We formed partnerships with other social innovation networks world-wide such as TED, SOCAP and PopTech. We wrote upwards of 40 blog posts, got out to speak nationally and internationally and completed upwards of 20 successful projects that involved over 30% of Hot Studio’s employees. Designers who were instrumental in shaping and supporting the practice included Julie Kim (!), Radhika Bhalla, Gabe Wasserman, Sarah B. Nelson, Jonathan Warner, Shagane Barsegian Launey, Dave Eresian, Robert Kanes, Elysa Soffer, Alex Yee, Kristi Teplitz, Kim Heilman, Alison Rand, Jennifer Kilian, Eric Grant, T. Annie Nguyen, Blake Olmstead, John Cantwell, Meredith Black, Cathryn Yongue, Perin Rhambia, Oksana Timonina, Kelly Meanley, Henrik Olsen, Max Batt, Tony Dhimes, Anna Bloom, Jessica Watson, Margot Merrill, Kristy LaFollette, Peter Jacques and Chris MacDougall.

Key Tools






Business Development

Community Building