Women Lead Steering Committee
The AIGA Women Lead steering committee works to develop programs, events, and resources for an inclusive audience—women and men, emerging designers and seasoned professionals, members and nonmembers. The group, established in 2014 by Su Mathews Hale and Deborah Adler of AIGA’s national board of directors, was originally based in New York City and in 2015 has expanded to include select AIGA chapter leaders from across the country.
Deborah Adler, principal, Adler Design (New York)
Deborah Adler is a designer, entrepreneur and mother of two. Her work is guided by the belief that meaningful innovation requires a deep understanding of the people who will use what she creates and the changing world that surrounds them. As the principal of Adler Design, Adler brings new ideas to market and works with industry and nonprofit clients to design experiences, change behaviors and improve outcomes.
Lynda Decker, president and creative director, Decker Design (New York)
Since founding Decker Design in 1996, Lynda has propelled the firm’s growth with a client roster that boasts some of the business world’s most dynamic and influential organizations. A native New Yorker, Lynda holds a B.F.A. in design from C.W. Post College in New York and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University. She is also an alumna of the Harvard Business School Design Leadership Program and Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Businesses program, and she studied design and cultural theory at The Cooper Union. She recently completed an M.F.A. in Design Criticism at the School of Visual Arts.
Carla Frank, creative director, Carla Frank Creative (New York)
Carla Frank is a globally recognized, award-winning brand creative director with a truly unique ability to create and convey an authentic personality and spirit of a brand across a wide subject range. Combined with her strategic abilities, entrepreneurial spirit and pursuit of quality, her talents have led to a string of resonating successes across many platforms. Her achievements have been recognized by AIGA, ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors), SPD (Society of Publication Designers), Advertising Age, AdWeek and more.
Shannon Gabor, founder and CEO, Clever Creative (Los Angeles)
With 17 years of experience working on global brands and businesses from Warner Bros., Mattel and Ritz Carlton to Zwift and Outward Hound, Shannon has built a dream team for designing, writing, marketing, strategizing. She creates brand solutions that are grounded in smart and art. Leading the charge of fellow female business-owners, Shannon believes in a productive creative playground to nurture the mind and the hand and applies that spirit to the design community at large through her involvement with the Step Up Women’s Network and the AIGA Los Angeles board of directors.
Su Mathews Hale, senior partner, Lippincott (New York)
Su Mathews Hale is a senior partner in design based in Lippincott’s New York office and president of the AIGA's national board of directors. For more than 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, Su 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.
Debbie Millman, president, Design Group, Sterling Brands (New York)
In more than 18 years at Sterling Brands, Debbie has worked on the redesign of over 200 global brands, including projects with P&G, Colgate, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsi. She is president emerita of AIGA's national board of directors, a contributing editor at Print Magazine, and co-founder and chair of the world‘s first M.A. in branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting “Design Matters,” the first podcast about design on the Internet. In 2011, the show was awarded a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. Debbie is the author of six books on design and branding.
Jill Spaeth, president and director of design, Citizen Creative (Washington DC)
Citizen Creative, a firm Jill established in 2010, specializes in experience design: primarily large-scale environmental graphics and signage. Jill has served on the AIGA DC Board of Directors since 2005 and completed her two-year term as chapter president in 2011. She 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 University of Maryland and has taught Graphic Design History at George Mason University.
Heather Stern, partner, marketing and communications, Lippincott (New York)
Heather Stern is Lippincott's chief marketing and communications officer, based in the New York office. In her role, she brings dedication, creativity, and passion to leading the firm's brand building efforts. Balancing strategic thinking with practical execution, she elevates the firm's visibility through marketing strategy and activation, thought leadership development, media and industry relations, digital marketing, sponsorships and events. She also supports broader strategic initiatives including new platform development, knowledge management, internal communications, and initiatives to build client and influencer networks.
Elysia Syriac, founder and creative director, Relish Creative (Denver)
Relish, a studio focused on branding, packaging, publications and social strategy, brings ideas to life through consumer engagement. Elysia has previously worked with a number of in-house design teams, such as Whitewave Foods, to help concept and execute social design strategy for global brands while assisting innovation teams. She has received awards from Communication Arts, American Graphic Design Awards and Art Director’s Club of Denver. She speaks frequently about mentorship and recently presented on behalf of the Fulbright Commission to Icelandic educators at Design March.
Wacarra Yeomans, vice president of creative services, Oracle (Seattle)
Wacarra is an expert in creative strategy and user experience in the digital direct marketing channels. At Oracle, she leads a team of designers, writers, and developers who create cross-channel campaigns, enhanced brand experiences, and improved program performance for top-notch brands across the retail, branded food, technology, and entertainment industries. Wacarra was recently named one of the "40 under 40 in Direct Marketing" by DM News. She currently serves as treasurer on the board of AIGA Seattle.
Cheryl Heller, principal, Heller Communication Design
Cheryl Heller is the founding chair of the first M.F.A. program in Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has founded two companies, taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world, helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion dollar global market leaders, launched category-redefining divisions and products and designed strategies for dozens of successful entrepreneurs. Heller is an advisor to PopTech and a senior fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab and the Lewis Institute. She sits on the Innovation Advisory Board for the Lumina Foundation and she is an advisor to DataKind.
Roberta Ronsivalle, managing partner/senior strategist, Mucca (New York)
As the partner responsible for internal processes and business development, Roberta has been key to Mucca’s success and cross-disciplinary expansion. In addition to shaping the company’s long-term strategy, her experience in strategic branding, marketing and communications helps clients—from start-ups to established firms—realize their visions for growth. She has worked with top executives and creative professionals from the world’s most respected brands, including Adobe Systems, Kartell, Victoria’s Secret, Harper Collins, Rizzoli, McNally restaurants, Patina Restaurant Group and Target.
Leslie Smolan, co-founder/director of creative strategy, Carbone Smolan Agency
Leslie Smolan is a strategist and creative director known for her relentless pursuit of timeless beauty. As the co-founder and director of creative strategy at the Carbone Smolan Agency, she applies the wisdom of her 35 years of experience to mentor clients on the power of strategic design to transform businesses. Smolan has been internationally recognized for her distinct aesthetic and carefully nuanced detailing in brand identity, cross-platform marketing communications and publishing projects, and has developed longstanding relationships with a roster of distinguished brands including Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Morgan Stanley and Canon.