GRAPHIC DESIGN LEAD OAKLAND COUNTY
WATERFORD TWP MI
I am the lead graphic designer for executive administration at Oakland County, Michigan. But graphic design is a relatively new career for me. At age 39, I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up and went back to college to get my degree in Graphic Communication. Two weeks after graduation the graphic designer in my department retired and I found myself in my dream job as part of the Media and Communications Division. Oakland County, located 30 miles north of Detroit, is the second-most populous county in Michigan. It is one of the wealthiest counties in America and a destination for the global headquarters of health care, automotive and technology firms. Residents have access to 17 degree-granting colleges and universities, 485 institutions of art and culture, nearly 90,000 acres of parkland, 65 miles of trails, and 1,450 lakes, rivers and streams.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN DESIGNING FOR GOOD AND WHY DO YOU BELIEVE DESIGN IS AN ESPECIALLY EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR THIS GOAL?
As the lead inhouse designer for a large county government, I am responsible for the visual communication for all departments under the leadership of the County Executive. This includes branding new initiatives, events, and special projects as well as designing day-to-day communication materials. Working as a public servant in local government, I make a difference in the lives of residents every day. But never has that been truer than in the past 6 months working side-by-side with Public Health and Emergency Operations to keep residents educated about coronavirus safety. Early in 2020 I designed a new branding campaign for the County Executive called “Oakland Together,” which highlighted the importance of working collaboratively to ensure Oakland County’s future success as the economic engine of Michigan while becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive county. When COVID-19 arrived in Oakland County early in March 2020, the “Oakland Together” slogan became the rallying cry for our residents and communities. As part of the pandemic emergency operations communication team, we brought the brand to public health education materials related to the pandemic and the economic recovery reopening toolkits. I’m proudest of the collaboration with multiple departments to stand up an entirely new section of the county’s website dedicated to COVID safety guidelines; CARES Act granting opportunities for businesses, residents, schools and organizations; a COVID case statistics dashboard; and resources for reopening of our economy. Besides the website, my days are filled with creating email education campaigns; informational brochures for direct mailing to our 1.2 million residents; small business resources like social distancing signage and floor decals; billboards; social media; paid ads and PSAs, just to name a few. I’m especially proud that the #OaklandTogether brand was awarded a 2020 American Inhouse Design Award from GDUSA.
GIVEN THE CONFLUENCE OF EVENTS AND CHALLENGES WE FACE THIS FALL, DOES 2020 PRESENT ANY SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES, OBSTACLES TO DESIGNING FOR GOOD?
As we move into the fall the ongoing pandemic and the economic recovery of our small business community is top priority. But we’re also heading into flu season, so finding ways to reimage existing programs in the new social distancing and virtual world. The past six months of managing siloed and fragmented communication across departments in the middle of a public health emergency has demonstrated the need for a formal public communication strategy at Oakland County. Our small inhouse graphic design and media relations team is expanding to a more unified marketing and communications agency model. I’ve been asked to step into a new role as manager of marketing and creative operations. Fall 2020 promises to be filled with new opportunities and challenges that I’m excited to get started on (but first I need a little nap and maybe some more coffee.)