Every life mission has a twist, and Caitria’s was a tornado. After coordinating local recovery efforts in her hometown, she went on to found an emergent logistics software company called Recovers.org, which helped communities recover from natural disasters. In areas across the country, Caitria worked with survivors and volunteers to design better recovery systems. She helped hundreds of thousands of people get involved in local efforts and earned recognition from the White House. As a d.school fellow and co-founder of a design and engineering studio called Pocketknife, Caitria has helped organizations innovate ‘with’ rather than ‘upon’ groups such as disaster survivors, chronic patients and the homeless.
The project: Design for the weary
How do you design for the weary? This question has been central to Caitria’s fellowship year, playing a role in both her founding of Pocketknife and the d.school class she taught in the winter. The class brought a small group of grad students together with local organizations Breast Cancer Connections, InnVision Homeless Shelter Network and the Boys and Girls Club, to explore research methodology for victims of circumstance and the organizations providing such services. Caitria then coached each organization through design sprints to give staff the tools to innovate together in the future. In addition to her fellowship project, Caitria helped design a microvolunteering workshop at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival and created a tablet-based training curriculum for a new medical device. For the latter, she spent days in dialysis clinics and homes across the country testing educational games with users, then worked with development and branding teams to design a unified patient-centered experience.
There are fixers and teachers in the world, and Caitria has fought for both. She will continue to work with organizations, using human-centered design to help not only those in need of help, but those providing assistance.
Caitria is a 2013-2014 d.school fellow. You can find Caitria at @CaitriaONeill.