Article 6: Designing For Good | It’s Personal

Last winter, GDUSA introduced a “Designing For Good” feature category as part of our 59th annual American Graphic Design Awards™ competition. The idea resonated: we saw several hundred entries and roughly 50 winning pieces were selected.

This is the sixth in a series of articles that take a deeper look at the winners of the new category, their motivations, their creative strategies, the impact of their winning projects — and why these creative professionals are engaged in and committed to socially responsible design. We have explored the role of design, the special creative challenges, the impact of these projects, and how the recipients share and leverage the recognition.

Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions, is the founding sponsor of this initiative which encompasses graphic communications that advance positive social and environmental action and social justice impact; promote diversity, equity and inclusion; and aim to make communities and the world a better place for people and nature. 


Article 6: Designing For Good | It’s Personal

Our continuing series on ‘Designing for Good’ has been very well read and received — with the focus on graphic design’s unique power to effectively advance positive social goals having particular resonance. Many projects, their impact, and insights gleaned from them have been extensively covered. This time around, we turn to (often intensely) personal comments from selected winners about how they became interested in “designing for good” in the first place. We have addressed the question of motivation, at least tangentially, in each article, but now we ask for specific individual reminiscences: How and why did you become interested in socially responsible design in the first place?

Each response is unique. But the totality of the message is clear: these are people who saw — or felt — a need to serve and help and support — and came to a realization that effective graphic design could be a tool to achieve their ends since it is suited to capture attention to and raise awareness of issues and causes; to tell stories, reveal truths, and crystallize the essence of a message or matter; and to inspire or persuade on behalf of a cause, idea or action.


Here are selected comments from several of the winners:


“To be honest, I sometimes can’t believe there is a social good category because I feel it should be inherent and expected of all work. Having been exposed to social justice issues as a young child impacted me greatly and I have been extremely lucky to have attracted clients who are mission-based and always considering their impact.” — Annabel Mangold, Mangold Design


“During the pandemic we decided we would like to better understand our nonbinary friends and loved ones. A personal project turned into a campaign to help others respect the importance of using an individual’s choice of pronouns.” — Susan Kelley, kelley | fortuno marketing design



Shane Lukas of A Great Idea | Premiere issue of We Are PHARMA! Advancing Equity


“I have a heart for small business and I often see that they don’t understand the value of effective design.” — Cassie Brkich, Brkich Design Group


“I started as an activist at age 14 advocating for access for all women to reproductive health with dignity and choice. My national and international harm reduction work has spanned the entirety of my years. Today, you can see that reflected in A Great Idea’s client partners who spend every day making this world better and more equitable.” — Shane Lukas, A Great Idea


Alyssa Varsanyi | Suicide Prevention Now (SPN)


“After many years working with business-to-business clients, a nonprofit freelance opportunity showed me the power of my work. I designed a piece to raise money to provide prenatal care to women in remote villages in the West Bank. Someone who received it—who had never donated before—sent in $10,000.” — Anne Marino, Studio Three Design


“I saw firsthand how my own design work can be a negative force on the environment, and therefore felt it was my calling to be a big part of the solution in making design a bigger force for good.” — Eric Benson, Re-nourish


Cassie Brkich | Rooted Locally Shop Small Campaign


“In 1995, I graduated from the Corcoran School of Art + Design, and landed a job with CEDC (a nonprofit design organization). During my interview, everything I learned about their work intrigued me – it felt meaningful and innovative. In 2023, I am still at CEDC – now as Creative Director.” — Beth Ponticello, CEDC


“Since we started our firm over 25 years ago, we have always included pro-bono projects that serve the public good. More recently, we have shifted the focus to creating more work for nonprofits, cause marketing, and advocacy work.” — David Langton, Langton Creative Group Ltd.

Jerry Nieves and GoldenSnow | 25th National LGBTQ Task Force Gala


“I’m passionate about animals and wanted to make a difference, so I decided to volunteer in a dog shelter near my home. I went to PAC (The Pet Adoption Center of Orange County) every Saturday for about two months to help them take care of the dogs. It was so rewarding that I wanted to do more, so I also helped them with some design work during the week. I redesigned the volunteer orientation booklet and designed a fundraiser event invitation.” — Joana Jordao, Cherish Impressions


“I started working with local LGBTQ+ nonprofits as a way to overcome fear and isolation after coming out as gay. Today, I design for these organizations to increase visibility and funding of programs that directly support and protect my community.” — Calvin Wilkins, CTW Design


Beth Ponticello of CEDC | Catholic Mobilizing Network


“I have always had a passion for helping people. As a United States Sailor, I worked as a Hospital Corpsman, helping wounded Marines in combat. As a business owner, I aim to do the best for the most people. That is what we strive for each day.” — Jerry Nieves, Golden Snow Agency


“I have always been passionate about using art and design for the betterment of humanity. I joined Oomph because I noticed their passion aligned with mine. They contribute to One Percent for the Planet, and often have nonprofit clients.” — Alyssa Varsanyi

kelley|fortuno | Practice Pronouns She They He We Campaign