Advisory for March 20–22: AIGA Design Leadership + Advocacy Conference


March 10, 2022

Media Contact

Amy Gwiazdowski

(212) 710-3111
AIGA’s first-ever advocacy-focused conference—three days of design leadership development, advocacy, and design industry expansion

Alexandria, VA—As the professional association for design, AIGA advocates for the value and impact of design in our contemporary world. This first-ever AIGA advocacy conference provides members with the opportunity to amplify and extend their impact as designers through leadership and advocacy. We will explore the power and influence of small businesses, design-first organizations, and industry expansion.

“It is time to convene, lead, and make even more productive change within the design industry and we are doing that with our first-ever advocacy focused conference,” said AIGA Executive Director, Bennie F. Johnson. “Design drives impact in a profound and positive way through our local communities and economies and we are excited for this opportunity to equip and educate designers to inform their congressional leaders on the value of design.” 

Sunday, March 20 and Monday, March 21 will bring together a range of speakers and leaders from industries and government to talk about how design is key to advancing business goals. On Tuesday, March 22, AIGA members are planning to meet with their members of Congress. 

The event is in-person and will take place at The Westin Alexandria Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. A virtual live streaming option will also be available. 

Speaker Highlights:
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) will address attendees by video to share her thoughts on the value of design, the importance of the creative economy, and why we need to support our small businesses. 

Manu Raju, CNN's chief congressional correspondent, covering Capitol Hill and campaign politics, sits down with AIGA Executive Director Bennie F. Johnson for a fireside chat. Raju is a veteran reporter in Washington, having previously served as a top Capitol Hill correspondent at Politico for seven years. Prior to his time at Politico, Raju reported for The Hill newspaper, Congressional Quarterly and Inside Washington Publishers. 

Associate Administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Mark Madrid and AIGA Executive Director Bennie F. Johnson will discuss how customer-centric design principles are enabling the SBA to better assist design small businesses start, grow, and scale. 

Director of the Office of Research and Analysis for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Sunil Iyegnar sits down with AIGA Chief Learning and Insights Officer Rubens Pessanha to discuss some of the more recent research initiatives at the NEA, including the report on America's Creative Economy. 

Conference Session Highlights:

  • Building Stronger and Smarter Businesses at Scale with Lee Moreau, President of Other Tomorrows
  • How to Be a Better Advocate for your Freelance Colleagues with Rafael Espinal, Executive Director of the Freelancers Union 
  • Building a More Equitable Financial Future: How Transition Design is Creating Impact with Sofia Bosch Gomez, Teaching Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Design for Health Equity: Opportunities and Outcomes with Ramina Davidson, Strategy lead at Community Solutions and Cheryl Heller, President of The MeasureD Lab
  • Design, Law, and the Marshallese Immigrant Experience with Melisa Laelan, Founder of the  Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, Marty Maxwell Lane, Association Professor of Design at the University of Arkansas, and Autumn Tolbert, Attorney and Writer

More information about the AIGA Design Leadership + Advocacy Conference is here

For media registration, please send an email to Amy Gwiazdowski

Media Contact

Amy Gwiazdowski

(212) 710-3111


AIGA, the professional association for design, advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, AIGA brings together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and creates the vision for a collective future. AIGA defines global standards and ethical practices, guides design education, inspires designers and the public, enhances professional development, and makes powerful tools and resources accessible to all.