Discover. Engage. Create.
Hi, I'm Melanie. Im 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.
My sweet spot.
I am most attracted to challenges of launching, growth, or change. Rather than merely handing off a project, I gravitate toward opportunities that with a mix of consulting and capacity building to ensure long-term sustainability.
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 design robust learning communities and experiences?
How might we disrupt systems that empower individuals to promote a more collaborative and creative economy?
How might we create organizational structures that promote empowerment, engagement, and authenticity?
The longer story...
Melanie works at the intersection of design, community, and place. Most recently, she was a strategist and engagement lead with the TheThirdTeacher+, a learning design consultancy within a global architecture and design firm that works with schools, universities, libraries, museums, and community centers. An interdisciplinary team of architects, educators, and technologists, Melanie brings a human-centered approach to the studio’s research, workshop facilitation, and design practice. Outside of work, she takes her studio to the sidewalk with The League of Awesome Possibilities, a design collaborative helping revitalize neighborhoods through placemaking, neighborly research, and dinner parties in vacant storefronts. Melanie is a StartingBloc: Institute for Social Innovation fellow and facilitator and works with Healthy Schools Campaign's Cooking up Change, an urban cooking competition to re-imagine school lunch.
Previously, Melanie has worked empowered education entrepreneurs in the Chicago Public Schools as a public interest fellow, supported the regional launch of Jane Goodall Institute's youth education program, was the knowledge manager for the education studio of Perkins+Will, and worked on grassroots environmental campaigns with the Sierra Club. She brings to bear her experience in social science research, non-profit management, community development, and storytelling to her work.
Melanie holds a degree in social policy, business, and leadership studies from Northwestern University where she focused on urban development, education, and organizational studies. In 2014, she studied service design at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.
"Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."
— Mary Oliver—