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The AIGA Women’s Leadership Initiative steering committee works to develop programs and build resources for an inclusive audience—women and men, emerging designers and seasoned professionals, members and nonmembers. Co-chaired by two members of AIGA’s national board of directors, Deborah Adler and Su Mathews, the committee aims to celebrate the achievements of women in design, cultivate awareness of gender-related issues and connect by facilitating productive relationships within and beyond the design industry.
Deborah Adler, principal, Adler Design
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.
Su Mathews Hale, senior partner, Lippincott
Su Mathews Hale is a senior partner in design based in Lippincott’s New York 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, Mathews Hale 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.
An initial steering committee of design leaders based in New York City has been formed to help launch the initiative in 2014, AIGA’s centennial year.
Lynda Decker, president and creative director, Decker Design
Since founding Decker Design in 1996, Lynda Decker 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, Decker holds a B.F.A. degree 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. Decker has recently completed an M.F.A. in Design Criticism at the School of Visual Arts.
Carla Frank, creative director, Carla Frank Creative
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.
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.
Debbie Millman, president, Design Group, Sterling Brands
In over 18 years at Sterling Brands, Debbie Millman has worked on the redesign of over 200 global brands, including projects with P&G, Colgate, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsi. Millman is President Emeritus of AIGA. She is 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. She is the author of six books on design and branding.
Roberta Ronsivalle, managing partner/senior strategist, Mucca Design
As the partner responsible for internal processes and business development, Roberta Ronsivalle’s leadership 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 some of 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.
Heather Stern, partner, marketing and communications, Lippincott
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.
This initiative develops AIGA's commitment to empowering women
designers and advancing the vital discourse on issues facing
professional women today.
Section: Tools and Resources -
Womens Leadership, professional development
These resources are organized according to the three goals of the AIGA Women’s Leadership Initiative: Celebrate, Cultivate, Connect.
In this webinar, learn why design research is an investigation based
on empathy, insight and understanding—and how it can help designers discover what tasks people
accomplish with digital services and devices, where they want to perform
these tasks and what kind of information they need to complete them.
For these workshops, graphic design students from local colleges were paired with
children ages 8 to 12. Under the guidance of AIGA Philadelphia and Spells
Writing Lab, the participating children created poems and collages that showcased “their Philadelphia.”
Section: Tools and Resources -
DesignEd K12, Diversity and Inclusion, illustration, design thinking, graphic design, nonprofit, typography, mentoring, posters, diversity, education, social issues, design educators, students
Graphic DesignerThe Ad Council
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Video: AIGA Medalist Chip Kidd