Redesigning my career

Jul 8, 2015

In August, I will be leaving my current job to begin coursework to complete my MA in Social Design from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore.

I want to impact social issues by approaching complex problems through the lens of design.

As an undergraduate in design at Western Washington University, I aimed to understand the power of messaging and branding in a political context and apply it to social and environmental issues.

Through my work with sustainable building, government transparency and public arts mapping organizations, I’ve evolved from a print designer to a web designer working in user experience design, project management and front-end development. Most recently, I’ve served as creative director for the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that uses technology to advocate for government transparency.

My time at Sunlight gave me the chance to grow tremendously. My technical capacity in design techniques and front end development has skyrocketed, I’ve found a balance and sense of restraint in my design solutions, I’ve learned how to manage and lead a team and I rediscovered my interest in effecting change through design.

At Sunlight we deal with government transparency issues at many levels. Initially we focused on the federal level, eventually expanding our work to advise at both the municipal and international levels. This experience with the varying degrees of abstractness and impact at different scales of government are influencing my thinking about how I might help to find solutions to the things that I care about.

Thinking at the scale of ‘the world’ is an intimidating prospect and certainly not an approachable strategy. Climate change, where global buy-in and sweeping behavioral change are necessary to make a significant impact, is dependent on scalability. How can collaboratively designed solutions to specific and localized problems act as prototypes for a healthy global future and how do those ideas and methods get translated in a way that allows them to transplant into new economies and new cultures.