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The Lead Designer will play a pivotal role in the company, working to bring a human-centered design lens to challenging social issues. Through their ability to think critically about complex systems, human needs, and appropriate processes, they will work with clients to redesign products, services, and systems.
LOCATION: SF Bay Area, California; New York, NY; Boston, MA; New Haven, CT; open to other locations.
The Lead Designer will be responsible for the following:
- Strategic planning
- Service design
- App design
- Social impact curriculum design
- Teaching human-centered design
- End-to-end completion of work needed for client portfolios, including operational tasks
- DC Design systems optimization
- Other needs, as they arrive
This team member will be responsible for consulting with clients on how to better design for those they are serving. They will plan and lead all aspects of design thinking workshops, develop strategic planning processes and then guide clients through them, conduct and synthesize long-form empathy interviews with the individuals our clients are serving, draft and present recommendations to clients, and otherwise understand client needs, plan how to address them, and execute with confidence. This requires the ability to navigate ambiguity and communicate clearly.
The Lead Designer will manage concurrent projects with clients in different social impact fields. Additionally, this person will execute on DC Design operational priorities. DC Design is a small and growing firm in a burgeoning field, and everyone at the company wears different hats at different times. The Lead Designer will be integral to expanding DC Design offerings and adapting to new and exciting needs as the company grows. This might include developing and deploying online courses, supporting operational needs as we implement new internal systems, developing proposals for prospective clients, seeking out new clients or building our business development channels, or otherwise addressing needs that arise. We are looking for a designer with skills in multiple areas to make an immediate impact within the company.
Finally, this person has passion for social impact. Maybe it’s a particular cause, or maybe it's the people you've met and grown up with. Either way, we want to know where your passion comes from and why this work matters to you on a personal level. We work with communities of color, especially Black communities, as well as other communities who have historically been excluded economically and socially. Our work impacts people of color, low income communities, those with disabilities, and a diversity of other communities in need of opportunity. For each member of our team we ask, what lived experience do you have that can contribute to our understanding of America's most challenging issues? What drives you to do this work? And how are you hoping to make a difference with your life?
RELEVANT SKILLS, EXPERIENCE, AND MINDSETS:
- You have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a technical or design-related field like industrial design, mechanical engineering, or graphic design and 1-2 years professional experience.
- You have a deep understanding of the human-centered design / design thinking process and feel comfortable explaining its nuances. Added bonus for experience teaching design thinking.
- You are a demonstrated human-centered problem solver, able to leverage these mindsets to solve real-world problems.
- You have experience in a client service role, especially as a consultant.
- You can work well independently and in a collaborative, team-based environment.
- You are comfortable leading clients and teams through the design process.
- You have experience in designing products or experiences that have both physical and strategic components.
- You have experience as a project manager, tracking, delegating, managing and successfully completing multiple tasks that may present competing deadlines and prioritization. You can manage projects both for yourself and for internal and cross-organizational teams.
- You are a strong writer, and your writing is concise, grammatically correct, and compelling without the need for excessive review.
- You are flexible, able to “keep up” with shifts in priority inherent to a small company.
- You are responsible, punctual, detail-oriented, and you meet deadlines.
- You are self-driven and proactive, with the ability to look ahead and be prepared for the next step -- to notice areas where support is needed and take initiative
- You are curious, with a natural desire to probe further into data.
- You are a strategic thinker, able to zoom out to a “bird’s eye view” and in for a “granular view” as needed.
- You are a team player, demonstrating a “can-do” attitude with a growth mindset and the desire to learn new skills, engage in planning and strategy discussions, voice concerns, take initiative to support team members and ask for help when needed.
- You take instruction well from leadership and can incorporate feedback into your process without becoming overly defensive.
- You will excel in a remote work environment, with the ability to work independently in an off-site environment with minimal supervision.
- You are self-disciplined with excellent time management skills
- You are self-driven, independent, and willing to go above and beyond to learn new skills, even if they are not in your educational background.
- You have passion for addressing deeply ingrained social problems.
HELPFUL ADDITIONAL SKILLS (Not required but great!):
- You speak multiple languages.
- You are a strong aesthetic designer able to combine technical and aesthetic design with strong human-centered values.
- You are a ninja in Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, InDesign, etc. and can handle any task thrown your way.
- You have a background or knack for social media strategy, social media analytics, PR, or marketing.
- You have a strong sales background and are willing to do the detailed work necessary to follow-up with and close clients.
- You have strong data science skills, and can suggest new processes for DC Design and our clients, analyze data, and turn that analysis into clear decisions.
SAMPLES OF OUR WORK
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
- DC Design worked with Santa Clara County to redesign aspects of their criminal justice system, applying our human-centered design approach to reduce jail recidivism rates. We led a multi-stakeholder engagement process involving the Sheriff, District Attorney, Board of Supervisors, Public Defender, Director of Behavioral Health, etc. to identify which challenges persist in reducing jail recidivism. We conducted over 100 interviews with various stakeholders, including many incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, in order to understand the needs of those communities, and incorporate what we heard into the development of our client’s 3-year strategic plan for jail reentry.
REMOVING BARRIERS TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
- DC Design worked with a California foundation to understand and address barriers to enrolling in Pre-K among English Learner families. This work was conducted with four school districts serving largely low-income, Spanish-speaking families. DC Design conducted over 100 interviews with stakeholders across the four districts; the majority of interviewees were Spanish-speaking moms of young kids. As we interviewed, we documented patterns in cited barriers to enrolling in Pre-K and general concerns among parents. The results of these interviews and our subsequent analysis has helped the districts, with the support of the foundation, to develop and implement solutions for increasing opportunities for early childhood education among English Learner families in the Central Valley and ensure all preschool students in these districts are ready for Kindergarten.
EDUCATING YOUNG SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
- Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps is a program focused on empowering 18-25 year olds to make social change in their community. Teams of young leaders work together on a project, learning Design Thinking and related methodologies. Obama Foundation reached out to DC Design asking us to create curriculum for Corps members around how to make social change lasting. We developed and taught content to CLC youth in Hartford and Chicago about making their social impact work long-lasting and how to engage the right stakeholders in their efforts.
- BUILD is improving high school, college, and career success for highschoolers from under-resourced communities by teaching them entrepreneurship skills. Using their experience developing design thinking curricula and teaching social innovation to high school students, DC Design guided BUILD through the process of developing and deploying a new curriculum for their high school juniors, teaching them social entrepreneurship and design thinking skills. In its first year, 100 high school students from 3 different cities—the Bay Area Peninsula, Oakland, and Los Angeles—designed 25 solutions to help first generation college students and students of color improve their mental wellness. As the curriculum moves into its second year, it is poised to spread across the country, impacting thousands of BUILD students nationwide.
CHANGING THE APPROACH TO EDUCATION
- DC Design team members frequently teach at Stanford University, in Japan, Miami, Spain and around the world. We have created new educational models that demonstrate how learning can directly serve as a tool for good. We’ve taught principals how to redesign their school culture, and worked with tech companies like Udacity to help them better design their programs and retain students.
- Our award-winning Design the Future program, developed in collaboration with the Institute of Design at Stanford (the d.school), teaches high school students to design functional products that improve the quality of life in people with disabilities. In 2019, we expanded from 2 programs to 6, introducing Design the Future in the Midwest and on the East Coast. The program now impacts hundreds of people across the country, including students and individuals with disabilities. 1 in 6 projects have been directly implementable and made an ongoing impact on their project partner’s life.
FOCUSING ON FOSTER CARE
- DC Design has been serving as a leader to the leaders in the Foster Care System. In partnership with PIVOTAL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, the Santa Clara government and others, DC Design designed and facilitated Hack Foster Care Summit and meetings of the Joint Foster Youth Task Force commissioned by Supervisor Cindy Chavez. These engagements convened over 250 people to identify key problems in the foster care system; bring together donors who directly contributed hardware, computer operating systems, and jobs; and put forth actionable solutions to addressing the needs of foster youth.
- In collaboration with the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Facility Guidelines Institute, DC Design consulted seasoned architects, doctors, and nurses from across the county to reimagine and redesign emergency departments to improve flows and patient experience. Teams of clinicians and architects imagined new designs including popup hallway stations to increase patient capacity during peak times, an automated check-in kiosk that increased the number of patients that can be successfully processed in the ED, new operational processes that eliminate the waiting room entirely, and alternative room designs that treat more low risk patients faster. Final designs have the potential to influence the code standards for hospitals and clinics across the country.
STRATEGY: We guide social innovators and organizations to create more effective and long-lasting social impact. All of our work is powered by the belief that we can only create consistent positive change by being in community with those we aim to serve. Through our framework of Multi-Stakeholder Human-Centered Design, we help organizations deepen their community ties and more confidently decide how to apply their limited resources. Our strategy work includes helping organizations better understand the needs of the people they serve through in-depth interviews, surveys, user testing, journey mapping, stakeholder mapping and other methods. We bring expertise in crafting strategic plans, updating missions and visions, and developing action plans alongside our clients, such as Santa Clara County’s Office of Reentry Services, to execute on their ideas.
DESIGN: Once a strategy has been identified, we co-develop customized services that are aligned with the needs of the people an organization serves. The apps and services we design are tailored through iterative prototyping rounds to ensure functionality. Service design leverages the stories and expertise of both service providers and end-users to build processes that meet everyone’s needs as effectively as possible. Apps like the one we developed for Grail Family Services work in both iOS and Android, and stand the test of time because of our user testing methodology.
EDUCATION: Through our education arm, DC Design University, we offer Design Thinking and social impact education to innovators who want to ingrain the tenets of Multi-Stakeholder Design into their practice. We teach the philosophies and frameworks that undergird our work. We’ve been trusted by the Obama Foundation, BUILD.org, Central Valley Foundation, and others to teach their stakeholders. Additionally, we offer online courses for individual social impact innovators interested in entering social impact/design thinking fields or incorporating those methodologies in their work.