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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 Creative Lead with Dalberg Design in New York City. Her clients and collaborators include World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), Clinton Global Initiative, Sustainable Trade Initiative, USAID’s Global Health Bureau and Rockefeller Foundation. She has recently led work in Uganda and South Africa looking at opportunities and barriers to support greater adoption and use of next generation, women-controlled sexual and reproductive health products, like the Dapivirine ring. 

She worked with TheThirdTeacher+, a learning design consultancy within CannonDesign where she grew the practice's research and strategy offering and collaborated with the George Lucas Education Foundation (Edutopia) and progressive schools across the US. Additionally, Melanie led knowledge management for Perkins+Will's education architecture studio, empowered education entrepreneurs as a fellow in the Chicago Public Schools' new school incubator, and helped launch the Jane Goodall Institute's youth education program in the Midwest.   

Melanie is passionate about the design of communities and being a neighbor-designer. 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. She sits on StateFarm's NextDoor Community Innovation Council and the advisory board of Till School, a social design program for recent high school graduates. 

Melanie holds a degree in social policy, business, and leadership studies from Northwestern University and was a 2014-15 fellow with Experience Institute and a 2011 Social Innovation fellow with StartingBloc. In 2014, she studied service design at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and has taught and lectured in Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change Program and Columbia University Design for America program.


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