We’re thrilled to announce ten new d.school fellows for 2015-16 and additions to our program leadership, as we deepen our ability to help people learn, teach and apply design thinking in the world.
Project fellows are early- to mid-career professionals who are growing creative organizations to accelerate systems-level impact in their areas of expertise. This academic year, we welcome seven project fellows focused on one of two areas, K12 education and civic innovation. The d.school project fellows are Ashanti Branch, Will Byrne, Patrick Cook-Deegan, Lauren Hancock, Rita Nguyen, Chris Rudd and Jill Vialet.
We’re excited also to announce that Thomas Both is joining Justin Ferrell to lead this cohort. For the past three years, Thomas has been the curriculum and experience lead in d.school Executive Education, where he designed and helped create content for our multi-day executive programs. A graduate of the Stanford Design Master’s Program, Thomas has also taught many d.school classes, including Design Thinking Bootcamp, d.leadership and Design Thinking Studio. His teaching rigor and hands-on experience with professionals will be a tremendous resource for our project fellows.
Teaching fellows are professional designers and design educators who will spend a full year at the d.school to grow their expertise in experiential teaching and contribute to the d.school’s efforts to advance our curriculum. Based on their vast experiences in the design world, they will develop new methods, experiences, and courses, and will be key members on a number of our internal initiatives. The d.school teaching fellows are Hannah Jones, Nihir Shah and Andrea Small.
Carissa Carter will lead our three teaching fellows in her role as the d.school director of teaching and learning experiments. Carissa, also a graduate of the Stanford Design Master’s Program, currently teaches Design Thinking Studio and From Maps to Meaning at the d.school, and helped lead the Stanford 2025 project.
Please join us in welcoming our new class of d.school fellows!
Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Raised in Oakland by a single mother on welfare, Ashanti left the inner city to study civil engineering at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. A construction project manager in his first career, his life changed after he tutored struggling students and realized his passion for teaching. In 2004, during Ashanti’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to their potential. Since then, Ever Forward has helped all of its more than 150 members graduate from high school, and 93% of them have gone on to attend two- or four-year colleges, military or trade school.
The Ever Forward Club was featured last year in the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. During his d.school fellowship, Ashanti will be working full-time on Ever Forward for the first time, in an effort to grow the organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students. Ashanti can be found on Twitter at @everforwardclub.
civic innovation fellow
Will Byrne believes individuals’ spending power can drive social change on any issue. It’s an opportunity he calls “civic consumption,” which he helped pioneer as co-founder and CEO of Groundswell. The clean-energy social venture began as an unfunded neighborhood project in 2009 and has since expanded across five cities, completing more than $20M in clean energy projects while saving millions of dollars in energy bills for working families.
Through civic consumption, citizens apply shared spending power in the marketplace to get what they need and to incentivize corporations and organizations to take action.
The son of a public defender, Will learned about inequality at an early age — by 12, he was already preoccupied with such systemic failures as mandatory minimums for petty drug sentencing. After graduating from Vassar College, Will worked as a field operative for the first Obama campaign before launching Groundswell. During his fellowship year, Will is advancing a new venture to unleash civic consumption across all issues: an online platform that merges crowdfunding and digital organizing to let citizens drive corporate and institutional action on issues they care about. You can find Will on Twitter at @will_byrne.
For five years, Patrick Cook-Deegan traveled alone to countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea and Rwanda — including a 2,800-mile solo bike ride through Southeast Asia. His interest in international adventure and global justice inspired his work with human rights activists in Myanmar, his founding of a program for low-income U.S. students to volunteer overseas, and the launch of the Social Innovation Initiative at his now-alma mater, Brown University. Patrick was deeply affected by the injustices of the world he witnessed during his travels, and while in Cambodia, a friend suggested that he do a 10-day meditation sit that radically changed his life. With a new sense of purpose, Patrick returned to the social sector energized to help other young people have their own transformative experiences.
In 2007, he began speaking with high school students about the importance of global citizenship, leadership and self-awareness. He has since taught semester-long mindfulness programming in public and private schools, and has led mindfulness and backcountry trips with Back to Earth and UCLA-Mindful Awareness Research Center. Most recently, Patrick was the West Coast Director of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, where he helped launch its first wilderness-based retreats. During his d.school fellowship, Patrick will be working with the Palo Alto Unified School District to develop a purpose-learning curriculum for high school students.
Lauren Hancock has been studying and integrating the Reggio Emilia philosophy in her teaching for more than 15 years, previously at Google and now at AltSchool, a San Francisco-based K12 startup with a platform and curriculum that’s personalized to each individual child. As the head of school at AltSchool’s Alamo Square location, Lauren helps lead an interdisciplinary team of educators, technologists and entrepreneurs who are building a network of student-focused schools. Her educational approach focuses on relationship-based and emergent learning, and she believes in play-based teaching and team reflection practices. Lauren previously worked as a lead Pre-K educator for Google’s Family Programs, where she led a teaching team and developed project-based content, while also educating parents on children's social and emotional development.
After recently receiving $100M in venture capital funding, AltSchool is evolving from an experimentation phase to defining scalable, sustainable operating models. Lauren will explore how best to redefine school leadership during her d.school fellowship year. You can find Lauren on Twitter at @lrnthmshncck.
civic innovation fellow
Dr. Rita Nguyen has been working for much of her life to unite the humanitarian promise of medicine with the pursuit of social justice. As an undergraduate at Stanford, she helped start a student-run free clinic near her hometown on the east side of San Jose. During her residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she led physician advocates in the greater Boston area to champion reforms that would create a better healthcare system for all.
Now the Medical Director of Healthy Food Initiatives at San Francisco General Hospital and a member of the University of California San Francisco faculty, Rita has led several projects that blend transition care, food environments and physician advocacy. She leads efforts to create a therapeutic food pantry and teaching kitchen where patients can fill prescriptions for healthy diets and learn healthy cooking techniques and recipes. As a d.school fellow, Rita will focus on growing the therapeutic food pantry model, to continue to address health inequities faced by underserved communities.
civic innovation fellow
Chris Rudd is a community organizer with a passion for social justice. He’s worked the past several years with gang-involved youth on the south and west sides of his native Chicago, challenging them to engage with their communities through activism and technology. As the director of the Juvenile Justice Council (JJC) at Mikva Challenge, Chris worked with 25 diverse young leaders from Cook County to research and develop recommendations to reform the county juvenile justice system. In the summer of 2013, they found that though 25,000 youth are arrested in Cook County each year, only 70 had applied for and were granted record expungement. A juvenile record can become a long-term barrier to education and employment, but Chris’s students had an idea. They developed an app called Expunge.io, which connects youth with pro bono lawyers to complete the expungement process.
Inspired by Expunge.io, the mayor of Chicago approached Chris’s students to help lobby for automatic juvenile expungement in Illinois, and they were invited to testify in front of the state senate. None of the students who testified were old enough to vote, but they knew they were helping to shape the lives and future opportunities of their peers. The bill passed.
In projects like Expunge.io, Chris has experienced first-hand the power of youth to effect change in their world. During the fellowship, he will design a program that can further bridge the gap between young people and the tech sector and allow them to create solutions to their self-identified issues. You can find Chris on Twitter at @Powere2e.
Jill Vialet has been making life better for children throughout the country for more than 25 years. In 1996, she launched Playworks, a national nonprofit that supports learning and physical health by providing safe and inclusive play to low-income students in urban schools. Playworks now reaches more than 600,000 students nationwide through direct training and services in more than 1,000 schools and youth-serving organizations.
A member of the Ashoka fellowship, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Pahara Aspen Education Fellowship, Jill published her first book, Recess Rules, in 2013. Prior to Playworks, she founded the Museum of Children’s Art (mocha) in Oakland and served as its executive director for nine years, expanding its programs to reach 20,000 young people each year.
Building upon her work at Playworks, Jill will be exploring how to enable schools and districts to transform substitute teaching from a necessity to an asset. Right now, roughly 10 percent of the teachers in U.S. classrooms are substitutes, and yet 90 percent of school districts offer them an average of four hours or less of training. Teachers and principals report high levels of dissatisfaction with the quality of substitutes available, and many classes go unstaffed because of substitute shortages. Not surprisingly, the substitute teachers themselves report equally high levels of unhappiness with the system. This is the problem Jill will tackle as a d.school fellow. You can find Jill on Twitter at @jillvialet.
Hannah Jones is a design educator and researcher who enjoys developing collaborative and emergent methods for sustainable futures in design, education and community contexts.
In search of a big adventure, Hannah moved to San Francisco in March 2014 on an 18-month sabbatical from her job as a lecturer in design at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She immediately fell in love with the Californian landscape and people and decided to stay longer. Over the course of 12 years at Goldsmiths, Hannah co-developed cutting-edge pedagogic practices around the design and facilitation of metadesign tools and processes, design ethics and sustainability, action-orientated design writing and co-authorship. As programme leader of MA Design Futures and Metadesign, she has been invited to teach across Europe.
Hannah is deeply curious about awkward space in cities and passionate about using design thinking to engage citizen-led creative teams in collective visioning processes around future cities. Hannah’s PhD design project, ‘Practicing Awkward Space in the City’ (2014), explored physical and social aspects of awkward space and how the concept can be used to seed collaborative design processes that spur localized change. You can follow Hannah on Twitter at @hannahutopia.
Fresh from the Stanford Design Master’s Program, Nihir is excited to be a part of people's lives on multiple levels as a designer. Interactions, relationships, behaviors, the built environment and cities are jumping off points for his work. He’s currently exploring systems thinking, simple design that wears well and the challenges of urbanism. Nihir’s favorite side project at the moment is with Project Citizen, where he’s helping update civic engagement for the 21st century citizen.
Prior to graduate school, Nihir designed furniture and architectural metalwork in Austin, TX. He has lived and adventured around the world, fulfilling dreams such as hiking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, studying Kung Fu in China, and playing flamenco guitar in Madrid.
Andrea Small is a product designer, design strategist and researcher focused on human-centered design. Her passion is to answer the "why" and "how" behind design, creating brands, products and experiences that help people and companies take leaps forward. Andrea joins the d.school from fuseproject, an award-winning industrial design and branding firm founded in 1999 by Yves Béhar.
As Strategy Lead at fuseproject, Andrea led strategic efforts for non-profits, start-ups and Fortune 500 companies, including Nivea, Starbucks, British Gas, GE, Herman Miller and Samsung. She recently led fuseproject’s work with Nike Foundation, developing and prototyping physical assets with girls in Rwanda, and creating Spring.org, a start-up accelerator in East Africa that supports businesses whose products and service could transform the lives of adolescent girls.
During her year as a d.school Teaching Fellow, Andrea is looking forward to translating her professional experience into coaching and teaching experiences that help people love design as much as she does—while exploring the different ways design might be taught. You can find Andrea on Twitter on @dresmall.