Managing Remote Teams

Event Description

Design agencies, studios and in-house across the globe made an unexpected shift this year and went remote.

Anyone who leads a creative team knows the power of sitting in a space together to collaborate and brainstorm(our guess is many companies saw savings this year in Post-It note purchases). This panel of agency leaders will discuss the pains and gains of leadership teams who have been finding new ways to lead and inspire designers.

This will be a moderated panel followed by a Q&A, but we encourage you to submit a question for consideration upon registration.

Note: Our ticket fees support operation fees, speaker stipends, student awards, and other free programming for our creative community. If you are unable to afford a ticket at this time and would like to attend, we want to accommodate you. Please reach out to with any questions or concerns.

The link to the Zoom conference will be sent out to you via email a day before the event and again the morning of the event.


About the Speakers

Elle Abarca

Elle Abarca is an Associate Creative Director at VSA Partners, based in Chicago. Her work is rooted in culture—drawing inspiration from her multicultural background, fashion and subcultures. Throughout her career, she has dedicated her time to organizations, such as iMentor and AIGA, to mentor students and designers from underrepresented communities.

Jon Bader

Jonathan has 20 years of experience in creating compelling brand stories for companies across many industries. Before joining Newell Brands, he led advertising and private label initiatives for the Home Depot, helping to implement a new direction for the company’s graphics. At SCHAWK!, he directed photography to create visual narratives for Brylane Home, Linens ’N’ Things, and SeaPak. Early in his career, he worked on in-house design teams and did a stint as a gallery artist and clothing designer.

Throughout it all, he’s used his trademark irreverence and perseverance (fueled by skateboarding) to foster creativity, collaboration, and enjoyment on the job.

A graduate of the Art Institutes, he lives in Kalamazoo with his wife and two children.

Payal Gandhi

Payal Gandhi (Paa-yuhl) is the National Design Manager at Tribune Publishing managing a team of 10+ digital designers across the US and an offshore vendor. She brings close to 15 years of experience in working on design concepts and client initiatives. In her role, she is a juggler of many things; she leads creatives for 10 national publications, works closely with her clients to build their advertising campaigns, and pushes to meet a whole lot of deadlines. Prior to Tribune, Payal managed designers for a Big Four accounting organization, museums and a technology company. Outside of being a responsible adult, she is a die-hard bookworm, mentors aspiring designers, enjoys staying active and is part of the WomenWhoWhiskey Chicago chapter.

Rudy Manning

Rudy Manning is an award-winning creative director, designer, speaker, and educator. For more than 20 years, Rudy has stayed true to the belief that graphic design, in its truest form, has the unique ability to bridge cultural and disciplinary boundaries. With that mindset, Rudy founded Pastilla, Inc, a leading digital agency built upon strategic creativity that encompasses digital, print, film & animation, advertising, and marketing. 

Rudy's diverse design thinking is informed by deep-rooted multicultural sensibilities, a critical ingredient that has led to many successful creative solutions for his clients. His rich international experience adds a unique, vibrant flavor to his creative thought process, making Rudy infinitely more relatable to clients worldwide.

As the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Pastilla, Rudy has helped launch and shape some of the world's most successful products, companies, and institutions such as; Disney, SAP, ESPN, Golden Globes, the City of Los Angeles, and The Melinda Gates Foundation. He also worked with Microsoft to introduce the Surface tablet to the world with an award-winning advertising campaign that proved Microsoft was focusing on hardware to the next level.

He has been published internationally in numerous design journals, including the venerable Print, Graphis, I.D., and HOW. He has also won multiple awards and recognition, including Print International Design, HOW Awards, Graphis, W3 Awards, Tellys, IXDA Showcase, Creativity International, and American Center for Design 100 Show.

He was born in Panama City, Panama; therefore, he speaks Spanish natively. He also lived in Germany as a child, so he speaks colloquial German. He's on the board of Art Division, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting underserved youth who are committed to studying the visual arts. 

Rudy holds a BFA with Honors in Graphic Design from The Art Center College of Design. He currently lives with his family in Pasadena, California.

About the Moderator

Jen Lemerand 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 creativity, 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 with companies large and small, currently as the Studio Lead & Creative Director at Glantz Design in Evanston, IL.

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.


Event Schedule

6:00–6:05pm CST: Attendees arrive

6:05–6:15pm CST: Introduction

6:15–7:00 pm CST: Presentation

7:00–7:20 pm CST: Q&A

7:20-7:25pm CST: Thank you

7:30-7:45pm Bonus Job Highlights


Code of Conduct

By registering to attend this event, you agree to abide by AIGA Chicago Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct may be found here.


Twitter Hashtags & Handles





Special thanks to Buddy Boor and Jen Lemerand for planning this event and to Buddy Boor for the event graphics.

When & Where
Wed, Dec 2, 2020 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CST