Dan Carriero


I am a New York City-based Creative Director with extensive background in leading creative vision, ideation, strategy, brand development, and execution for nonprofits. In my current role at Smile Train, I continue to shape the voice of the organization through creative assets –leading the team that is the foundation for our brand worldwide. I have been in the nonprofit sector for over fifteen years and enjoy the challenges of promoting an organization through effective branding and other outreach initiatives. Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, is unique with its sustainable model that empowers local medical professionals globally to treat people with clefts through life-changing surgery and related care, including speech therapy, nutritional support, and dental and orthodontic treatment. Although Smile Train has a singular focus on sustainable cleft care, promoting it consistently to account for the many cultural differences across the 70+ countries where we have active programs can be challenging.

How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?

My involvement in designing for good came from firsthand experience of the impact a nonprofit has on helping others. I realized the magnitude of the role design plays in changing people’s lives for the better. Knowing Smile Train’s vision is simple and understandable, I feel my belief in consistent branding is essential to building transparency and trust. People want to align themselves with brands that can really show where their support is going — that they believe the world is changing because of them. I bring that support to life visually, promoting a consistent message through words and visuals.

Every year on the first Friday of October, the world celebrates World Smile Day®, a day dedicated to promoting smiles and kind acts. This year, Smile Train is celebrating World Smile Day® by creating a global campaign that will raise awareness about clefts using the thematic “All Smiles Are Beautiful,” which will incorporate cleft-related anti-bullying messaging and the personal experiences of Smile Train’s worldwide cleft community. I am particularly proud of this campaign as it is an opportunity to promote our brand, through various graphic media, truly giving our message global reach. I feel that I am helping to not only raise awareness for clefts and dispel negative stereotypes, but I am also helping to educate and share positivity in a time when the world could use some smiles.

Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?

The post-pandemic era has forced the world to rely on technology and digital channels for communication more heavily now than ever before. By investing in digital capabilities, you can tell stories that connect with your partners on a more personal level. As an organization that was founded by a tech pioneer, Smile Train doesn’t shy away from the technologies of today and tomorrow — we are embracing the use of QR codes, NFT initiatives, and many other digital and social integrations. Through branding and technology, Smile Train boosts trust, builds confidence, and changes the world one smile at a time.