Bios of national board members
AIGA’s board of directors plays a crucial role in determining the mission of AIGA, ensuring that the organization continues to operate in the best interest of past, present and future members.
Sean Adams is a professor at ArtCenter College of Design, and founder of Burning Settlers Cabin website and studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com-Linked In. He was the only two-term AIGA national president in the organization’s history. Adams has served on the AIGA national board and was also an AIGA Los Angeles president.
Previously, Adams was a founding partner at the internationally recognized firm, AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.
In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the New York Art Director’s Club. Adams and AdamsMorioka have been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally in the ID40, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States.
Justin Ahrens has led his creative firm, Rule29, for over 15 years in its commitment to “Making Creative Matter®” through great design and by helping others think differently about the world around them. With a collaborative approach to both strategy and design, Rule29’s culture is just as important as the work it creates; the firm is involved in many social causes, including substantial work in Africa.
Rule29 has been recognized by major competitions and publications, including AIGA, Communication Arts, Graphis, HOW, Print, The Webby Awards, and many more. Ahrens has been a consistent voice for the design and business community in areas around Design for Good and work/life balance, which he has spoken about at the AIGA Design Conference, Design Thinkers, Adobe Max, Brand New, and HOW, and has written about in his book, Life Kerning™: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life.
Axios most recently served as the creative director and a digital strategist at the White House, where she managed design from within the first-ever Office of Digital Strategy (ODS). A member of the Obama administration for more than four years, she helped ODS fulfill its mission of connecting people with purpose—creating meaningful opportunities for engagement and participation between the Obama administration and public. Her achievements in this role include: leading the product and design strategy for two State of the Union addresses, helping President Obama speak to people where they were; leading the responsive redesign of WhiteHouse.gov; the visual redesign of the White House petitions platform, We the People; and establishing a digital system for presenting the Obama administration record.
Axios is a president emeritus of AIGA Washington, DC where she served 5 years and helped form DotGovDesign, an initiative connecting and empowering government designers. Some of Axios' professional highlights include being named one of GDUSA's people to watch in 2015, being named by Essence Magazineas one of the 29 most powerful black women in the Obama administration, and supporting the historic same-sex marriage decision with the rainbow White House. Born in Northern Virginia and raised in New Jersey, Ashleigh received a BFA in Graphic Design and a wonderful husband from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Niki Blaker is a design strategist and founder of Five Sigma Studio—a design firm focused bringing design, content, and technical SEO together. Her work is guided by an emphasis on cross-discipline collaboration and in-depth research that makes meaningful brand strategy and design experiences possible.
Previously, Blaker worked as an Art Director at LaneTerralever, and as a Design Strategist at Forty, whose clients included Goodyear Tire, Honeywell, CBS, and JDA. Blaker's work has received two ADDY awards and she was recognized as one of Phoenix’s Top 100 Creatives by the Phoenix New Times.
Since 2016, Blaker has served as the president’s council chair for AIGA. She is also the President Emeritus of AIGA Arizona. During her seven year course on the AIGA Arizona board, she served as the chapter’s membership director, communications director, and was the Phoenix Design Week director in 2014.
After living in Phoenix for 10 years, she recently relocated to Boston. She lives with her husband and tiny Pomeranian who’s personality, unlike her size, is larger than life.
Ken Carbone is a designer, artist, musician, author and teacher. As the co-founder and chief creative director of the Carbone Smolan Agency, his work is renowned for its balance of substance and style.
Under his design ethos to “unify, simplify, amplify”, Carbone collaborates with a world-class clientele including W Hotels, Morgan Stanley, Christie’s, Tiffany & Co., Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Canon U.S.A., as well as celebrated institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Musée du Louvre.
Carbone is the author of The Virtuoso: Face to Face with 40 Extraordinary Talents and recently co-authored Dialog: What Makes a Great Design Partnership, which celebrates his 35-year collaboration with business partner Leslie Smolan. He frequently speaks to audiences across the country about the value of strategic design and communications in the corporate, consumer and cultural sectors and has lectured at both business schools and art colleges. He is a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and is a featured blogger for Fast Company magazine as well as Huffington Post.
A member of the prestigious Alliance Graphique International (AGI) and AIGA, he is the recipient of a 2014 AIGA Medal, which recognizes individuals for their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication.
Agustín Garza has been a leader in the field of intercultural communications with a focus on brand strategy, positioning, and destination branding solutions in the United States and internationally. He’s a member of the Design Council of Mexico, where he helped two former presidents develop positioning and branding solutions for the country. He served as the president of AIGA Los Angeles, as well as on the NEA Mayors Institute for City Planning, the L.A. Cultural Affairs Design Steering Committee, and the L.A. Mayor’s Design Advisory Committee.
An AIGA Los Angeles Fellow, Garza’s work has been widely recognized and is part of the permanent collection of the National Library of Congress. For more than 11 years, he taught at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and was a founding professor of Art Center Europe, in Switzerland. As part of a lifelong interest in anthropology and the role of design as a force for change, Garza travels extensively to areas where isolated cultures in extreme natural environments struggle to survive and preserve their heritage.
Karin Hibma's understanding of how the power of design and visual thinking impacts our economy and culture enables her to work with clients to see the world through the eyes of their customers, using cognitive identity insights and design thinking to find the strategic “big idea” inherent in every project.
An early entrepreneur, Hibma founded creative research company Design Resource in 1974 to work with artists, photographers, and filmmakers on advertising, illustration, commercial, and documentary projects. She founded and is the president of Cronan Artefact, a product development, manufacturing, and marketing company whose Walking Man apparel line won International Design Magazine's 1992 Consumer Product Gold Award and was one of the earliest online catalogues. Hibma is an AIGA SF Fellow, and has been acknowledged as a Fast Company "100 Most Creative People in Business."
As co-founder and principal of : : CRONAN : :, she creates names, strategic identities, and designs strategies for startups as well as some of the world’s most successful products and organizations, including Amazon Kindle, Apple, Estée Lauder, Origins, Levi Strauss & Co., SFMOMA, TiVo, and the White House. Hibma also consults with Dr. Paul Polak's international organizations on advising multi-nationals and ending rural poverty.
Rich Hollant is the principal, strategist, and design director at CO:LAB, a firm he started In 1988. After nearly two decades developing brand and product launches for Fortune 500 corporations, he now works exclusively on initiatives with social value that are in the public interest. With an interdisciplinary degree from Boston University and a degree in media from the Museum School of Fine Arts, Hollant’s approach blends comprehensive strategic thinking with tightly orchestrated execution.
He and his firm have received numerous awards from AIGA, CADC, Print, How, Graphis, Cause/Affect, CXD, and Best of New England. His design work has appeared in trade publications and design books. Additionally, Hollant has been featured in Business Weekly and Communications Arts, and was named one of GDUSA’s 20 People to Watch and by Fast Company as one of the top 11 designers creating social value.
Hollant has lectured and conducted workshops on ethics, business models, design for good, and branding for socially conscious organizations. He has juried competitions including the Strathmore Paper Show, American Graphic Design Awards, Say Something Posters, Start-Up CT, Flux, and Sappi Ideas that Matter. He’s a co-founder of the teen volunteer workforce Giv2, past president of AIGA Connecticut, and board chair of COMPASS Youth Collaborative/COMPASS Peacebuilders. He’s also the founder of CROP, an emerging artists residency space and 360° mentoring program in Hartford, CT.
John Luu is an art director at Schlumberger, an oilfield services company. He currently works on product commercializations and integrated campaigns for B2B. With more than 13 years of agency experience Luu works with clients to develop product branding, advertising and integrated screen and print communication programs with an emphasis on creative solutions for energy-focused companies. Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, he fuses marketing strategy with compelling creative to solve business problems and drive opportunities worldwide.
Prior to Schlumberger John was art director and digital marketer at Axiom, a creative agency based out of Houston. Prior to joining Axiom, Luu ran an independent design/brand strategy practice in Sugar Land, Texas focusing on healthcare, patient education, nano-technology, and oil and gas.
Luu served on the board of AIGA Houston as development director where he oversaw all marketing of AIGA Houston’s programs, events and issues relevant to the profession, and he worked closely with other AIGA Houston directors to better engage the Houston design community and drive membership. Luu also served as communications director for AIGA Houston, overseeing all external channel communications, editorial schedules and content curation for the AIGA Houston blog and social media.
Luu graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Communications.
Su Mathews Hale is a senior partner in design based in Lippincott’s San Francisco office. For over two decades, she has thrived at the intersection of graphic design and brand strategy. Using the power of design to develop inspiring creations while solving business problems, she has worked with a broad range of notable clients including Chick-fil-A, eBay, Hayneedle, Hershey’s, Hyatt, IHG, Liz Claiborne, New York Public Library, RadioShack, Red Robin, Samsung, Shutterstock, the U.S. Department of State and Walmart.
As a senior partner in design for Lippincott, Mathews Hale works on global projects spanning the full gamut of brand creation and identity development. She served as creative director on the famed Walmart rebranding—a massive repositioning and brand revitalization engagement that contemporized the global retail giant while retaining the values of its heritage. The program included a new visual identity, an enhanced omni-channel customer experience, an award-winning employee brand book and an overall alignment with the retailer’s new brand essence, “Save money. Live better.” Recently, she led the creative team for the refreshed brand identity of eBay that signaled strategic changes of eBay Marketplaces and a cleaner, more contemporary experience.
A frequent speaker and design judge, Mathews Hale was featured as a “Symbol Master” by AIGA and was selected by Graphic Design USA as one of the 2013 “People to Watch.” Her work has been published in design books such as Designing Brand Identity, Go Logo, LogoLounge V and Symbol, and featured in leading design publications such as Communication Arts, Graphis, Huffington Post, Identity, and PRINT. She currently serves the President of AIGA where she has spearheaded Women Lead, a committee dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in design, cultivating awareness of gender-related issues, and connecting women both within and beyond the design industry.
Matthew Muñoz is chief design officer and partner at New Kind, a company whose purpose is to bring people together to share in the adventure of creating the future. Muñoz uses design methods to facilitate collaborative experiences, shape organizational culture, craft stories and brand identities, and ultimately help New Kind’s clients shape their communities.
In 2014, Muñoz co-founded the Hopscotch Design Festival, a two-day gathering to discover the people designing the future. He’s a nationally award-winning designer, and in 2013 was honored with a Triangle Business Journal “40 Under 40” leadership award. His work has been recognized by AIGA chapters, The Webby Awards, The Type Directors Club, The Advertising Club of New York, HOW Magazine, and Communication Arts.
Christopher Simmons is a Canadian-born, San Francisco-based designer, writer and educator. Among his enduring accomplishments as AIGA San Francisco Chapter president (2004–2006) were the creation of San Francisco Design Week, and the introduction of the first public design-oriented lectures at the Apple Store. On completion of Simmons’ tenure on the board, mayor Gavin Newsom issued an official proclamation declaring San Francisco to be a city where “design makes a difference.”
Simmons is the principal/creative director of the noted San Francisco design office MINE™, where he designs and directs projects for a variety of clients, including Facebook, Microsoft, SFMOMA, Chronicle Books, Simon & Schuster, Obama for America, as well as numerous restaurants, and a diversity of nonprofit and entrepreneurial clients. His work has been exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Hiroshima, Japan, The Pasadena Museum of California Art, The Museum of Craft & Design and The Smithsonian Institution, and his work is part of the permanent design archives of the Denver Art Museum.
Simmons is the author of four books, the most recent of which, Just Design, focuses on design for social change. A frequent speaker on design issues, Simmons also lectures at schools and design organizations across the United States and Canada, and has been interviewed by the CBS evening news, The New York Times, 99% Invisible, Design Matters and NPR.
Jill Spaeth is president and director of design at Citizen Creative, a firm she established in 2010 that specializes in experience design—primarily large-scale environmental graphics and signage. Spaeth often collaborates with architects and interior designers to incorporate Citizen Creative’s vision into the built environment. She chooses projects that bring to life the name “Citizen”—representing an allegiance to meaningful and effective design.
Spaeth has served on the AIGA DC Board of Directors since 2005 and completed her two-year term as chapter president in 2011. During her presidential tenure, she worked with the board of directors to transform AIGA DC’s biennial design show, AIGA 50, by using online tools to showcase all submissions through an accessible online gallery. In 2007, she was part of the team that founded the AIGA DC Design Continuum Scholarship Fund with the goal of increasing diversity in the design profession. Since its inception, the fund has given more than $30,000 in scholarships to under-represented local students.
Most recently Spaeth added the title of chief creative officer to her CV by joining science and technology startup Zansors. Zansors develops diagnostic tools for health care and Spaeth oversees design by translating complicated technology into practical, user-centered solutions.
Spaeth received an executive education in business at Yale University’s School of Management and has a B.F.A in graphic design from Rochester Institute of Technology. She frequently lectures at the University of Maryland and has taught graphic design history at George Mason University.
Christine Taylor is a multidisciplinary creative with a degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and graduate studies in design from Portfolio Center in Atlanta. After several roles in both the psychology and design fields, she landed at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, where she works as a creative account manager in the Licensing Studio, managing the creative product development and relations between Hallmark’s internal development teams and outside movie and TV studio licenses like Warner Bros., DC Comics, FOX, NBC/Universal, Star Wars, Star Trek, and AMC’s The Walking Dead. Previously at Hallmark, she worked as a designer in several areas of the company including gift books, the internal branding studio, and the B2B emotion marketing studio that created content for brands like State Farm and Target. Taylor has also worked as a freelance art director and designer for local theaters, bars, restaurants, and nonprofit organizations, and helped start Bungalow Creative, a prolific but short-lived Kansas City design collective.
Before serving as president and advisory board member of AIGA Kansas City, Taylor helped revive the membership as the chapter’s programming director, launching the city’s first annual design awards. She has spoken at the Brand New Conference and has been recognized by many award shows and publications.
Andrew Twigg is an assistant teaching professor at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Design, where he focuses on web design, visual communication, and cross-media design systems, and is an independent designer practicing visual-verbal design strategy, branding, and web design.
Prior to establishing Andrew Twigg Design Studio, LTD, he lived in Chicago, where he worked at start-ups and agencies on established and emerging consumer and business-to-business brand and content strategy, web strategy, and SEO.
Jennifer Visocky O’Grady is an author, designer, and educator, whose work is recognized by HOW, Print, and Communication Arts, among others. She’s a professor and chair at the Art Department at Cleveland State University, a public research university where, for the past 15 years, she has dedicated herself to providing access and opportunity to a diverse group of aspiring creatives. Together with her husband and creative partner, Ken Visocky O’Grady, she has co-authored three internationally distributed books (Design Currency, The Information Design Handbook, and A Designer’s Research Manual) that strive to make academic concepts approachable while celebrating the power, impact, and potential of good design. Her leadership with AIGA has spanned more than a decade and includes roles as faculty advisor, Cleveland chapter president, education chair, advocacy chair, advisory board member, and national design education steering committee member. She presents workshops and lectures at creative industry events, including those held by AIGA, HOW, and RGD, and is committed to promoting the value of design to external groups like NASA and the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR).
Paul Wharton is creative vice president for Larsen, a design and branding consultancy in Minneapolis. An experienced designer and creative director, he leads the creative vision for a talented staff of 30 driven by design excellence. His award-winning portfolio includes brand strategy, identity and visual systems, digital media, packaging and product, and color trend consulting for clients including Best Buy, Target, Dell, The J.M. Smucker Company, 3M, The Star Tribune, Timberland and Wausau Paper.
Wharton has served AIGA in numerous roles on both the local and national level including president of AIGA Minnesota Chapter, AIGA Minnesota advisory board, the national AIGA nominating committee, AIGA Minnesota Design Show chair and Design Camp advisor. He has judged several design shows and has written and lectured extensively on design and color. He has taught and lectured at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the College of Visual Arts, the University of Minnesota and the University of Northern Iowa.
A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa where he earned a degree in arts education, Wharton went on to study graphic design and photography at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Before joining Larsen in 1998, he worked as a designer for Eaton & Associates and as vice president at Little & Company. His work has been honored by AIGA, Communication Arts, HOW, Graphis, Graphic Design USA, and the Art Directors Club, among others.