Kelly is an artist, designer, teacher, and always up for a great adventure. After spending time on both coasts she believes Chicago’s creative community is one of the best. Kelly thinks that the small everyday moments are more incredible than the every once-in-awhile spectacular moments. And she believes that ordinary people can make extraordinary differences in the world. She still thinks secret handshakes are cool too.
You can often find Kelly in Andersonville or on an acre of land just outside of Chicago where she designs, paints and is building a small urban farm. When she’s not teaching at IU Northwest, Kelly is busy advocating for Chicago’s creative community and arts education through her work with the EPIC Board of Directors and as Content Director for the Hike Conference. Kelly also sits on the AIGA National Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. She is slowly fulfilling her dream of hiking and photographing every single U.S. National Park. Feel free to drop her a line and say hello!
David solves design problems, makes pictures, keeps analog creative practices alive, and teaches students both young and old to care about all of the above.
He currently leads the design discipline at One Design Company, an independent Chicago studio focused on brand strategy and experience design. In 2007 he co-founded the Post Family, an independent Chicago-based collaborative focused on creating experiences that engage communities through art and design. An adjunct faculty member within DePaul University’s School of Design and a visiting instructor at Marwen, he considers engagement in the educational field to be an essential part of his practice.
Vice-President of Communications
Bianca is a writer who marries personal anecdotes and colorful language to communicate compelling brand messages. As a trained journalist and editor, she is passionate about the entire scope of the creative process—from pitching a story idea through to creating a piece’s social media posts, she is invested in all facets of the projects she’s a part of. Bianca is currently a copywriter at One Design Company. Most recently, she edited Mouthwash magazine and was the managing editor of Echo Magazine—a nationally award-winning student-run publication—while she completed her BA in Magazine Journalism at Columbia College Chicago.
Vice-President of Community Engagement
Mary loves to partner with clients to plan, envision and bring content to life. An award-winning interdisciplinary designer, brand strategist and IDEO alumnus with over 15 years of experience, Mary is versatile communication design leader who has worked with dozens of clients, from fortune 500 brands to top nonprofits. Her experience includes a diverse range of projects—from microfinance banking in rural Kenya to the creation and branding of a birth control support network for women. She has worked with a broad range of clients including, The Trust for Public Land, The University of Chicago, The Chicago Department of Public Health, American Express, Nike, Sara Lee, Bank of America, and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy.
No matter what the project, Mary believes in a Human Centered Design approach—great design starts with understanding the needs of individuals as well as organizations. Among the press and accolades Mary’s work has received, her work with Bedsider garnered an IDEA gold for service design and bronze for both research and design strategy, as well as a Core77 strategy and research award. Her work was also featured in the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
Vice-President of Diversity & Inclusion
Antonio is Group Experience Director at Rightpoint. Before that he helped launch Northern Lab, Northern Trust’s internal innovation accelerator focused on experience design within financial services. Before that he led gravitytank’s interaction design discipline and social innovation practice. Prior to working in innovation, Antonio was strategic director of Firebelly Design. He holds a BFA in Advertising Design from the Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD) and attended the Harvard Business School AIGA Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders Executive Education Program in 2007. Antonio teaches Visual Storytelling and Communication Design at Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute and previously taught Customer Discovery as part of University of Chicago’s Polsky Center Entrepreneurship Essentials. A frequent contributor to community conversations on the topics of diversity, culture and creativity, Antonio believes design’s sole function is to create change. Antonio’s side projects include DJing, illustration and an upcoming book on 8-bit and 16-bit video game iconography.
Vice-President of Education
Jo-Nell Sieren is a photographer, designer, educator, and advisor. Currently she is an Internship and Career Advisor for the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. She advises students majoring in Photography, Design, Art, Art History and Interactive Arts Media (IAM). In addition to this role, she is Adjunct Faculty for both Design and Photography departments. Jo-Nell also mentors and directs a small group of students each semester who create Frank Magazine, a digital publication available from the Apple App Store and created with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). A graduate of the School of Visual Art in New York City, Jo-Nell’s professional background includes; working as a Photographer, Designer, Assistant Gallery Director, Curriculum Director and Instructor for a children’s art program.
Vice-President Member Experience
Amy Schwartz is a designer specializing in branding and digital experiences. She is the Creative Director at Bright Bright Great and Avondale Type Co.
Previously, Amy was the Design Director at Cards Against Humanity and Blackbox. Amy was the winner of Command X at the 2015 AIGA National Design Conference; other recognition includes PRINT Magazine’s 15 Under 30, the 2016 Emerging Designer Award by AIGA Chicago, 2016 Finalist for Young Designer of the Year by the Net Awards, and the recipient of the AIGA What’s Next Grant in 2014.
Amy founded Liminal Space in 2015, a design initiative that promotes experimentation, community, and dialogue within Chicago’s thriving design, art, and technology scenes. She is currently the Vice President of Member Experience for AIGA Chicago and an adjunct professor in DePaul University’s School of Design. Amy holds an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA from DePaul University.
Valerie Craig is a designer who is fueled by ideas, passion and people. She thrives on process, ideation, experimentation, execution and, apparently, lists. She is honored to be a part of this rich creative community.
She has worked for businesses small to large. To diversify her skills, she ventured out on her own for a number of years, working with some of the most interesting clients near and far. Following that, she served as Senior Designer at Acquity Group, a part of Accenture Interactive, where she transformed the brand’s passion into pixels and paper. Today, she works as a Brand Designer for data-driven insights startup Uptake. In this role, she helps to shape and bring life to this exciting new brand.
Design Ethics Chair
Theresa Stewart is a designer and cultural consultant who has been crafting meaningful experience in a range of industries, including consumer electronics, retail, and healthcare. She’s supported design for organizations from both the consulting and in house sides,having worked in innovation consulting and at a boutique shipping and logistics company respectively. In addition to design, Theresa is passionate about diversity and inclusion. She’s been a fierce advocate for creating spaces for designers of color in the industry.
Recently joining VSA Chicago as a writer, Myriha Burce graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2013 with a B.A. in Business Management.
Myriha kicked off her career in New York City working at the headquarters for women’s luxury clothing retailer, EILEEN FISHER. She has had the opportunity to work very closely with numerous creative teams while honing marketing, writing, and communications skills across fashion, tech, and non-profit industries.
Outside of work, Myriha is an avid fashion and lifestyle blogger. On the weekends you’ll likely find her exploring the city, or collaborating with some of her favorite local photographers, designers, and other Chicago creatives.
Lauren Meranda is a designer and educator engaging in creative pursuits with good intentions. She teaches at Judson University in Elgin, IL. She strives to make design education and the design profession more accessible for under-served students and to empower students to find their personal voice in their work. Her research interests are in the role of design after loss and the design of public memory.
Lauren’s research and teaching output has been presented at AIGA Design Educators Conferences in 2014 and 2016 and TypeCon in 2016. Her work has been displayed at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, in the Chicago Design Archive, Typeforce, Chicago Design Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum, Hyde Park Arts Center, and National Public Housing Museum.
Lauren received her MDes from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013 and BFA in Visual Communication from Northern Illinois University in 2009.
Robert Zolna is a human-centered researcher, educator, and designer. A self-professed people-nerd, he is fascinated with people and how they interact with objects, services, space, and each other.
Currently Robert steers the Design Research Methods curriculum at the UIC School of Design, teaching human-centered methodologies to graduate and undergraduate students. He strives to make ‘research + design’ a core part of the student-designer journey. His research focus is on understanding and defining the aesthetics of patient care delivery and their impact on improving patient health. He was recently appointed Director of the HealthCare Lab at UIC’s Innovation Center and is a Senior Research Fellow at UIC’s Population Health Sciences Program.
As former Associate Partner and Director of Visual Communication at gravitytank, he was responsible for shaping a culture of critique and collaboration across the design, research and strategy disciplines. As Director of Brand and Visual Storytelling for dscout, Robert oversaw the development of brand strategies for the firm’s products and platforms.
Active in the Chicago design community, he has a passion for inspiring designers to look more broadly at opportunities to apply their creativity and make impact. When not teaching, researching or designing he can be found walking his two dogs around the West Town neighborhood with his fiancé, also a designer.
Interactive Media Chair
PJ Macklin is an interaction designer who likes making complex systems feel simple and intuitive. He uses his background in digital product design and illustration to create human-centered interfaces that solve problems and are fun to use. At Salesforce Ignite (formerly gravitytank) PJ has led projects in tech, consumer genetics, and consumer electronics.
Before gravitytank, he co-founded Soundslice, a music education platform that renders music notation in the browser. Before that, he designed interfaces for EveryBlock, a website that helped people interact with and learn about their neighborhood.
PJ holds a BS in art and design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught HTML & CSS at The Starter League in Chicago.
When PJ isn’t designing, he’s probably playing music, learning a language, or finding a better cup of coffee.
Jen is an idea generator with an infectious passion for design, who builds and motivates dynamic teams to solve design problems in unexpected, original ways. When it comes to smart design, Jen sees things differently, so she does things differently. She believes in taking a fresh look at creative, which is why people always ask if her glasses are upside-down. That’s what it takes to stand out – and leave a lasting impression. Her background includes roles leading designers, developers and writers as Creative Director with companies large and small, including Vis-à-vis Creative and Revelry Agency.
In 2012, Jen founded the Chicago chapter of SheSays, providing mentoring opportunities and educational / networking events for women in the creative industry. She’s also been known to break the ice at conferences such as HOW Design Live by inviting attendees to turn her into a “walking typography” experiment. When she is not being a crazy creative, you can find Jen biking the streets of Chicago, playing and writing original songs (often about her bike), or simply melting into the couch watching Netflix.
Lance Curran studied music business at Columbia College Chicago only to find that he missed his DIY days. So he dropped out of school and spent a few years playing and booking shows while managing artists. Since joining Threadless in 2005, he and his pals have forged a workplace that encourages off-kilter personalities and rebellious kindness.
Lance has partnered with many companies and brands on creative projects, fundraisers, and events through Threadless and Arcade Brewery which he co-founded in 2011 and served as Creative Director. Currently, Lance is the Artist Shops Account Director and Comic Book Czar for Threadless where he manages and supports over 800 VIP clients and growing.
Lance has been the curator for the monthly rotating Graffiti On Green mural series at Soho House Chicago since 2014 and has worked with many local businesses and artists from around the world on mural and street art projects.
Lance was an advisor and exhibition chair for the Hey! Play! Exhibit at the Chicago Design Museum and is the curator for the Art Gives Me Hope charity art fundraiser that benefits Hope For The Day and their mental health awareness and suicide prevention efforts.
Lance is happily married and earned the title, “Best Father Ever” from Esquire Magazine when an instagram series featuring his family went viral.
Lance loves to invite like-minded misfits to the Threadless HQ for tours, interviews, and possible projects. He’s an art, music, video game, and comic book junkie who likes to get his brain caught in the marketing cookie jar.
Jeannine has spent most of her career at the crossroads of emerging technologies and serving client needs. In the financial industry, she worked with the country’s stock exchanges helping develop the first wireless stock execution system in the US. From there, she worked as a solutions architect in the wireless communications industry and participated in the incredible growth of cellular for over 20 years. Customers ranged from Fortune 1000 companies to utilities and public sector clients.
Now, as Business Development Director at Daily Planet, Jeannine is working with the best content-creators, designers, directors, animators and editors around and she help clients find solutions to their communication, branding and marketing needs, and brings them a level of creativity and service that helps them be the most powerful brands possible. In addition she also helps develop the social media, public relations and marketing programs that continue to build the successful Daily Planet brand. Another role at Daily Planet is Intern Manager, helping to seek out the city’s emerging talents though an internship program.
Jeannine has also helped run GiveAShi*t, Daily Planet’s passion project. For the last three years, GiveAShi*t has raised over $75,000 by having local artists donate designs for t-shirts that are then hand-screened and sold on line as well as at a yearly pop-up shop. All proceeds go directly to Streetwise and Streetwise vendors.
Jeannine is a potter and tile maker at Lill Street Studios.
Buddy Boor is a designer with a passion for exploring the intersection of art and code. Curious about people and their environment, his favorite aspect of design is the requirement to dive deeply into outside disciplines. By day he runs Other Things Creative, a branding and interaction studio in Ravenswood.
Prior to starting Other Things, Buddy worked in interaction design at the agency Mightybytes and supported multiple publications at Tribune Interactive. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design and a BA in Advertising from Michigan State University. On the side he’s a passionate runner, illustrator, & podcast-listener.
Danyelle is an experienced graphic and architectural designer who has worked for businesses large and small. She is currently a Designer at Selbert Perkins Design, specializing in print, packaging, environmental and electronic media. Alongside her work at SPD, she creates print and marketing collateral for the Chicago-based podcast network, Dynasty Podcasts.
A true believer in the Chicago design community, she acts as Volunteer Coordinator for the Chicago Design Museum and pays it forward by serving as a Design Mentor for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, guiding students through the design process, talking through design problems and encouraging design thinking.
Outside of the design world, she spends much of her free time attending concerts and cuddling with her cat Ellie. Her Printer’s Row apartment boasts a geodesic dome, which is great for hanging a hammock in the coldest Chicago months.
Jen is a graphic designer and art director specializing in branding, packaging, and digital experiences. She was born and raised in New Jersey, but has found her home here in Chicago for the past 7+ years. She currently works as a senior designer at the Leo Burnett Department of Design.
Jen spent four years at Syracuse University where she earned her BFA in communications design, which taught her a lot about how to look at design as a holistic and strategic process that goes beyond a pretty picture. She’s applied her skills to a wide range of experiences, working in advertising as well as in-house for brands of all sizes – from Gatorade, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Pepsi, to Graduate Hotels and Pinch Provisions. She also went off on her own for several years to help build brands and create experiences for businesses near and far. Notable clients and collaborators include Uptake, One Design Co, Dallas Hartwig of Whole30 and Parce Rum. Jen is a Type Director’s Club winner and her work has been featured in many digital publications, including For Print Only and The Dieline.