Alisa Wolfson

Shortly after joining Leo Burnett in 2008, Alisa Wolfson founded the agency’s Department of Design, which she continues to guide and oversee as SVP, Director of Design. She has worked as a designer for over 15 years, with past and current clients including Crate & Barrel, Hallmark, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola. She is also the design director at Lampo, a nonprofit organization that presents experimental sound art in Chicago.

In 2012 Alisa received the D&AD’s inaugural White Pencil for her work on Recipeace, a social movement that brings people of conflict together over food. Recipeace also recently won Best in Show at the One Show Design along with the first ever Gold Pencil awarded for Design for the Greater Good. She has been named one of 30 “Women to Watch” by Ad Age and recognized as “Fresh Talent” by AIGA Chicago. Her work has been acknowledged by D&AD, The One Show, The Clio’s, Cannes Lions, The Type Directors Club and Communication Arts. She also has pieces included in the Society of Typographic Art’s Chicago Design Archive.

Antonio García
Instagram, Twitter and medium: @a_m_garcia

Antonio García is Design Strategy Director at Table XI, founder of Dadwell & Co. and Co-President of AIGA Chicago.

Prior to joining TXI’s leadership team, Antonio was Group Experience Director at Rightpoint. Before Rightpoint, he helped launch Northern Lab—Northern Trust’s internal innovation accelerator. Ahead of the Lab, he led gravitytank’s interaction design discipline and social innovation practice. Leading into innovation consulting, Antonio was Director of Strategy for Firebelly Design.

In addition to design leadership, Antonio is a mentor, educator, and lecturer at Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute and Designation. He previously taught Customer Discovery as part of University of Chicago’s Polsky Center Entrepreneurship Essentials and New Product Definition at IIT Institute of Design.

A frequent contributor to community conversations on the topics of DEIB, design ethics, culture and creativity, Antonio believes design’s sole function is to cause change.

If he’s not hard at work, Antonio is most likely DJing, drawing, or training for his next marathon.

Bart Crosby

Bart founded Crosby Associates in 1979. Over his career, he has conceived, designed, or directed more than a hundred visual identity, branding, and design programs. In addition to managing the firm and relationships with clients, he provides strategic and design direction to the majority of the firm’s projects and programs. His work has been recognized by nearly every professional design organization and he has been featured in many national and international design and business publications.

Bart has been an executive vice president and a director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and is a founding member and past president of the AIGA Chicago Chapter. In 2002 he was made a fellow of the Chicago Chapter, and in 2005 he was awarded the AIGA Medal in recognition of exceptional achievements and contributions to the field of graphic design. He is also a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale.

A graduate of the American Academy of Art, he is a frequent lecturer at conferences and universities and has served as adjunct associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Cheryl Towler Weese

Cheryl began her design discipleship at age nine, when she learned to proofread galleys at her parents’ weekly newspaper. She attended college sporadically, preferring to work or study in a different country each year. This love of culture and language is integral to her design sensibility, and her projects often marry design thinking with the development of visual language. She founded Studio Blue in 1993. She acts as creative director and oversees the mentoring of the design team. Cheryl’s influence on the studio’s work shows in her contextual approach as well as her intrepid demand for craft and innovation. She has served on the national board of the AIGA, the professional association for design; taught and lectured on design at universities and conferences; and juried numerous design competitions, including AIGA’s 50 Books/50 Covers competition, which she has chaired and juried four times.

Dawn Hancock

Since founding Firebelly in 1999, Dawn has focused on producing innovative, sustainable design and building stronger communities. Firebelly’s work has earned recognition in various journals and design archives, but more importantly it’s earned trust from both clients and the local community.

In the years since she started the studio, Dawn has built on this trust to broaden Firebelly’s reach and impact. In 2004, she began offering the Grant for Good, a charitable award that supports one nonprofit for a year. The grant now includes photography, social media, printing and publishing, making it a comprehensive service package with the potential to transform an organization.

In 2006, with the fearless work of her team and plenty of local support, Dawn launched a new nonprofit: the Firebelly Foundation. Several programs exist under the Foundation’s umbrella, including Reason to Give, a Humboldt Park nonprofit, and Camp Firebelly, an intensive 10-day apprenticeship for young designers. Firebelly University, currently on hiatus, served as a business incubator for socially-minded start-ups.

Upon joining the board of AIGA Chicago as Community Outreach Chair in 2009, Dawn seized the opportunity to create a free mentorship program for Chicago designers. The program attracts nearly 300 individuals each year who gather in small groups to share their success stories as well as their missteps, and to seek and offer guidance to their peers.

And still Dawn wants to do more. She has been honored to speak at TEDx, Design Week, the Pratt Institute, among other schools, workshops and conferences. Her writing has appeared in Computer Arts Magazine, and she’s always looking for the next opportunity to try to change the world, one good idea at a time.

Dawn holds a BFA in Visual Communication from Northern Illinois University and was named one of The 11 Most Generous Designers by Fast Company.

Frank Anello

Frank Anello, principal of Anello Design, has over nineteen years of design experience working with corporate and nonprofit businesses. His work is currently focused in the areas of visual identity systems, strategic planning, business development marketing materials and publications; with clients including a variety of academic, cultural, and professional institutions. Prior to establishing his own visual communications consultancy, Frank spent eight years as design manager for Lipman Hearne, a Chicago based multidisciplinary communications group specializing in the marketing of intangibles. Frank has a BFA in Graphic Design from Ohio University and an MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design, where he also taught undergraduate design courses. When not working, Frank can be found bike riding, practicing yoga or trapeze flying.

Jamie Koval

A recognized leader for decades in design and brand identity, Jamie has been instrumental in shaping VSA’s integrated approach to brand-building, including work in organizational change, corporate reputation, identity and digital. He joined VSA Partners as a creative principal in 1990 and his collaborations have included work with some of the most celebrated organizations in the world. Jamie’s work has been internationally recognized by more than 100 competitions and designations, including a presence in the permanent collection in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Jilly Simons

Jilly Simons started Concrete, the Chicago graphic design office in 1987. Her design philosophy searches for a visual language which stresses originality, honesty, and strength. Jilly works hard for her clients and many of their collaborations have been honored, exhibited and published internationally and are housed in the permanent collections of the Newberry Library and Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She has lectured extensively and served on numerous design juries. Currently she’s an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago. She’s taught classes at the University of Illinois (Chicago), Kent State University, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2008 she was made an AIGA Fellow. She is currently part of the AIGA Chicago Advisory Board and actively served as a director on the executive boards of both the American Center for Design and AIGA Chicago.

Joseph Michael Essex

Joseph Michael Essex along with his partner and wife Nancy Denney Essex are principals of Essex Two. The offices’ focus is on Cultural Branding™ and strategic communication. He has been on this chapter’s board in one form or another since it’s start. In his almost 35 year career, Joseph has received more than 400 awards from every major communication publication and organization, including medals from the NY Art Directors Club. His posters are in collections throughout the world as well as MOMA and the National Design Museum in NY. He has lectured extensively on design as a process and creativity as craft.

Kelly Bjork

Kelly joined VSA in 2008 as Creative Director, and has since been leading teams of designers in the development of brand systems, corporate communications and environmental experiences for companies like IBM, Motorola and First Data.

In addition to her role at VSA, Kelly has served as Programming Chair of AIGA Chicago and as Director of Membership for AIGA Minnesota. Her work has been recognized by The One Show, AIGA 365, Communication Arts, Print, Graphis and Rebrand 100.

Kelly Komp

Kelly Komp graduated from Ball State University with a BFA in Graphic Design. Co-founder and Creative Director of Chicago/Atlanta/Vancouver-based Multiple Inc., his award-winning strategic thinking and communication design capabilities have brought clarity and energy to organizations such as DePaul University, Fresenius Kabi USA, Great Lakes Protection Fund, Greater Chicago Food Depository, The Nature Conservancy, PowerPlayer Inc., and University of Chicago.

A co-producer and host of Cusp Conference (a conference about the design of everything) and a former instructor of Design for the Web at Chicago Portfolio School, he credits his experiences slinging tacos, shagging golf balls at a driving range, filing records for a law firm, operating a forklift and bagging ice in a 20° factory with providing him with a love of not doing any of those things today.

Marcia Lausen

Marcia is an outspoken advocate for the value of design in corporate, consumer, nonprofit, and government communications. She is founder of Studio/lab’s Chicago office and Director of the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is also a Professor of graphic design. Former AIGA Chicago President, Marcia now serves on the AIGA national board leading the election design initiative of AIGA Design for Democracy. She received her MFA in graphic design from Yale University and her BFA in graphic design from Indiana University. Marcia was recently featured as a master of design in Fast Company magazine.

Mig Reyes

Mig Reyes served as President for AIGA Chicago during 2017, as well as Co-President alongside Alisa Wolfson in 2016. Mig leads design at Trunk Club, an fashion retailer owned by Nordstrom. Prior to Trunk Club, Mig spent four years figuring out how to help people work better together leading brand, marketing, and product design projects at Basecamp—formerly known as 37signals. Leading up to Basecamp, Mig cut his teeth helping artists find their voice at Threadless as their first full-time web designer working on brand, marketing, and user interfaces for the t-shirt crowd-sourcing pioneers. He and his work have been recognized with AIGA, CMYK, HOW, Print, Rockport, and the Society of Typographic Arts, and UnderConsideration.

Mig draws from the Midwest mentality of humility and giving back. Outside of his time serving as President of AIGA Chicago, he started the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings, teaches, and regularly travels to speak on design, craft, and culture.

Mitch Rice

Few call him Mitchell, most call him Mitch, and some call him hurricane (mostly due to his lack of prowess on the basketball court), and hardly anyone knows that his real name is Raymond. 3CD has been producing communication design for educational, cultural, and corporate clients since 1989. Tony Porto and Dan Casadas are the other two partners at 3CD. Since opening, Mitch has not designed a single thing on his own, every piece has been a collaboration between the partners, other designers, writers, and clients. 3CD has self-authored 2 children’s books published by Little Brown and Company, they designed & produced them as well. Mitch graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor of arts in graphic design in 1984.

Renata Graw

Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Renata is now a partner at Plural Design in Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her work has been featured in Communication Arts, Eye and Print Magazines, and has been selected for the AIGA 365, Art Directors Club, the STA Archive and Type Directors Club among others. Renata received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Graphic Design and her BFA from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica in Rio de Janeiro. She also studied typography under Wolfgang Weingart at the Basel School of Design summer program.

Scott Theisen

A Creative Director with VSA Partners, Scott has been directing design of every size and flavor in Chicago for longer than he’d like to admit. An MFA graduate of the University of Arizona, his work has been recognized by the Chicago Emmy’s, Graphis, Communication Arts, AR100, the American Association of Museums, CASE, Coupe and Print Magazine. Scott also serves on the Design Department Advisory Board of the College of DuPage, and is an Austrian Economics superfreak. Its not normal.

Steve Liska

Steve founded Liska + Associates, a communication design and branding firm in 1980. He is also chairman of the board of directors of the nonprofit organization Make A Better Place (MABP). Steve frequently contributes his time to the national chapter of the AIGA, the professional association for design, and is a founding member of AIGA’s Brand Council. In the past, he has held positions on the national AIGA board and as president of AIGA Chicago.

Steve Ryan

Steve started at VSA as an intern 12 years ago, and he simply hasn’t left. An accomplished creative director, Steve has lent his talents and expertise to projects for VSA clients such as IBM, Converse, First Data, Nortel Networks, Compaq Computers, Smithfield Foods, Allstate Financial Services, Potlatch Papers, and Mohawk Papers.

With experience in investor communications, consumer & enterprise communications, branding, and interactive applications, Steve brings a unique understanding of technology and design to both business interactions as well as creating end-user value to all his endeavors. Steve’s work has been featured in various publications, including Graphis, Critique, Print, The AR 100, and Communication Arts, and has been recognized by organizations like the Type Director’s Club.

Steve holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a participant in the 2005 AIGA/Harvard Business School Business Perspectives for Design Leaders.

Tim Bruce

Trained in graphic design and a founding partner and creative director of LOWERCASE Inc., a Chicago based design firm, Tim Bruce is an avid collector of contemporary American folk and self taught art. Inspired by the impulse to collect and informed by living with the work of William Hawkins, Aldo Piacenza, SL Jones, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and Charlie Willeto, among others, he discovered a desire to create – to make things by hand.

For the past 4 years he has been quietly transforming found signs and scrap wood – often from the city streets of Chicago – into a body of sculptural work. These assemblages recall European churches but have the feel of Midwest American barns – rough hewn, crude and utilitarian.

His design work is included in American Design Archives at the Denver Art Museum and the permanent collection of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany and has been honored by every major national and international design competition.

Tracy West

Throughout Tracy’s career, an inquisitive drive has pushed her to roll up her sleeves and seek out what makes brands soar. With more than 15 years of design experience, she has lead integrated experiences for BMW, International Paper, Knoll, MINI, Perkins+Will, Sappi Fine Papers, Second City, and USG. From her early days with Petrick Design to her current role as Creative Director at 50,000feet, her experience extends across consumer retail, corporate communications, brand identity and digital. Her work has been recognized by Communication Arts, Print and HOW magazines, Black Book AR 100, The Art Directors Club, American Institute of Graphic Arts and The Society of Typographic Arts. Tracy is a graduate of The School of Design at Rochester Institute of Technology and has served on the board of AIGA Chicago.

Wendy Pressley-Jacobs

Wendy Pressley-Jacobs founded Pressley Jacobs Design, Inc in 1985 based on a precept that good design is integral to good communication. Prior to forming Pressley Jacobs, Wendy was Vice President/Design at Goldsholl Design and Film Companies; Vice President,Creative Group Director: Design Group at Burson-Marsteller; and Principal Design Manager at Design Planning Group. She was educated in graphic design and liberal arts at Indiana University, graduating with a BFA degree in graphic design.