Ways of
Thinking

Everything and everyone
is connected to everything
and everyone else.

We live our lives in contexts of overlapping systems that influence and affect one another. There is evidence of this everywhere, if we start to pay attention to these dynamics and scales. I strive to do things that are in service of people and the biosphere.

To me, that means starting with my own inner work and maintaining practices that fuel my ability to listen deeply, seek out multiple perspectives, and develop patience with what can sometimes feel like the glacially slow pace of making change. Through my practice, I have been lucky to play with what it means to design, building new ways of working with groups of people, and rethinking what design can be (and do) as a medium, a lens, and a tool.

Social Impact Design:
Understanding the entire
ecosystem of experiences.

For years, I have worked at the forefront of the emerging crafts of applied design research and service design—design that looks at entire systems of experience touchpoints, across both physical and digital spaces.

Through my work, I have explored and helped shape the emerging field of “social design,” as it is often called, through
engagements in practice, teaching, writing, convening, coaching
and mentoring.

Journey Mapping:
Understanding the entire
ecosystem of experiences.

When we can truly see and understand the felt experience of the people we’re designing with, better outcomes are possible.

I helped pioneer the use of Journey Mapping during my time at the Department of Veterans Affairs, leading a design team in ongoing
ethnographic research and design interventions to bring the perspectives of Veterans back to the organization.

Through storytelling, service design, and deep listening to multiple perspectives across the breadth of Veterans experiences, we championed approaches that shifted policy, programmatic action, and outcomes.

I’ve facilitated hands-on journey mapping workshops across government agency teams for the City of Philadelphia, to government employees across federal agencies through the Lab at OPM and continue to refine approaches to complex service design in my current work at IBM.

Transforming Organizations:
Creating excellence in
leadership, culture, and teams.

For an organization to stay relevant it must be a learning organization, experimenting and iterating with change.

As such, it’s critical to create an environment of psychological safety where wild ideas, risks, small bets and a bias toward learning by doing are qualities that are encouraged and reinforced.

These are the tenets by which we need to lead teams, move projects forward, and facilitate global business.

I strive to work as a bridge between multiple disciplines that see the world through very different lenses—and to enable teams to experiment, remain flexible, and cultivate a growth mindset.

Do The Inner Work:
Cultivating an understanding of human motivations, wants and needs.

Early in my career I began a graduate degree in Clinical Social Work at Columbia University. At the time, I was too deep in grief following the murder of my younger sister to effectively do therapeutic work with others.

I left grad school and spent the better part of two years at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur doing Gestalt therapy in a group setting and training in bodywork. That community opened my heart, helped me heal, and cemented a lifelong commitment to continue inner work.

Following that experience, I stayed in California, settled in the Bay Area, and began my career in design. The drive to understand people and human motivation remains at the heart of my work in design.

Visionary Thinking:
Designing across scales, systems, and practice

I thrive on complex challenges that defy any one solution, but rather, require integrative thinking and a masterful application of design craft, collaboration and business intelligence.

I have always been drawn to the edge of practice and culture-building via design within organizations, as great results always come from the work of teams.

Across the scale and scope of projects I’ve had my hands in, I have served as a facilitator, a translator, maker and mentor.

Laughter and Play:
Essential elements of kindness, empathy, and trust

Humor can connect us. When we find something lighthearted in the work we do, it can bring out and create an environment conducive to good ideas.

Laughter can help build a sense of safety and trust. And trust is the foundation of anything good happening with a group of people.

When we practice kindness, empathy, and understanding of each other, I believe we can organize and do things differently, and get different outcomes.

Laughter and play are also the antidote to how otherwise heavy and heartbreaking this work can be, at times. At the end of the day, we’re all just people. And sometimes grownups take themselves far too seriously.

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