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Discover. Engage. Create.

Hi, I'm Melanie. I'm a social designer with a business mind, a designer eye, and a creative core. 

I help communities and impact organizations better understand their inner cultures, capacities, and aspirations to design meaningful environments, experiences, and services. I apply a social science lens and design thinking methodologies to organizational challenges. I fundamentally believe in potlucks.

 

I work at the intersection of strategy + delight.

I believe that the best processes and products come from a blend of rigor and playfulness. I like to bring this spirit out in my clients and teammates.

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My sweet spot.

I'm most attracted to challenges of launching, growth, or change.  I gravitate toward opportunities that blend consulting and capacity building to allow iteration, empower leaders, and ensure sustainability.


The longer story...

Melanie helps organizations and communities innovate, grow, and change by design. She is a boundary spanner–working across public, social, and corporate design sectors. Currently, she is a fellow and project manager with the Experience Institute. In addition to helping Ei scale a revolution in non-traditional learning, she is designing her own prototype year in 2014-15.

Most recently, Melanie was a strategist and engagement lead with the TheThirdTeacher+, a learning design consultancy within CannonDesign where she grew the practice's research and strategy offering. She is the founder and curator of The League of Awesome Possibilities, a design collaborative focused on building healthier local economies through participatory placemaking funded by the Awesome Foundation, GOOD magazine, and City of Chicago.

Previously, Melanie led the knowledge management practice for Perkins+Will's education design studio, empowered education entrepreneurs in the Chicago Public Schools' new school incubator, supported the launch of Jane Goodall Institute's youth education program in the midwest, and worked on grassroots environmental campaigns with the Sierra Club.  She is a StartingBloc fellow and continues to facilitate workshops for young social innovators. She sits on StateFarm's NextDoor Community Innovation Council and volunteers with the Healthy Schools Campaign's urban cooking competition to re-imagine school lunch.

Melanie holds a degree in social policy, business, and leadership studies from Northwestern University where she focused on urban development, education, and organizational change. In 2014, she studied service design at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and is currently teaching at Northwestern University. 


Questions on my mind: 

How might we create robust cross-sector partnerships to support collective goals around education, economic, and health outcomes?

How might we build the capacity of neighbors to shape the future of their communities and cities?

How might we use design to cultivate robust learning communities and experiences?

How might we disrupt systems to promote a more collaborative and creative economy?

How might we create organizational structures that promote empowerment, engagement, and authenticity?


Skills

Speaking

Miscellany


Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead... Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.
— SUSAN SONTAG