ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR
I am an Associate Creative Director at Media Cause, a mission-focused advertising and marketing agency serving nonprofits. In my role, I am involved in both design work and strategic work — helping create compelling designs while also strategizing with clients on how to reach the right audience at the right time, in order to maximize awareness, support, and fundraising efforts. Regarding design specifically, I believe in the power of human-centered design, storytelling, and creative problem-solving to improve conditions.
I am a strong advocate for creating digitally accessible design, and firmly believe that designers have the power and privilege to create design that works for everyone. What is good for the minority, is also good for the majority — for instance, making your product accessible for someone with low vision also helps people with 20/20 vision in low-light settings. At any given moment, 20 percent of the world is experiencing a disability in some form. This shows the importance of making digital accessibility a focus.
I was a competitive swimmer at the University of Alabama, and through athletics, I learned that small improvements can make a big difference, and that is something I apply in my work every day. I always look for better ways to create, and ways to create better and believe that design, creativity, and storytelling can help us improve the world around us.
How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?
There are so many important issues in the world, and design is a powerful tool that enables organizations to communicate vital messages and reach the right audiences.
Sometimes social issues can be difficult for people to face and contemplate. Other times people are just zoned out after being inundated with media all day. It’s up to us to find the optimal way to reach them — and one way is to tell stories in creative ways.
A project I’m particularly proud of is Media Cause’s work with Tipping Point on their “All In” campaign, aimed at galvanizing the San Francisco public to demand long-term solutions to the homelessness crisis. We leveraged statistics coupled with real voices of people who’d experienced homelessness, to change perceptions about homelessness — not just by sharing facts, but by inspiring residents to ask WHY. The result was a series of emotionally compelling, hard-hitting ads that we pushed out through Out-of-Home, social media, audio, photos and illustrations, in order to tap into all the senses. Another way I am involved in designing for good — more aligned with my focus on digital accessibility — is examining the way that symbols we create in an effort to simplify, might actually cause harm. One example is the International Symbol of Access. This was created to help people living with disabilities better navigate their surroundings; however, critics often note how the symbol gives the perception that people with disabilities are dependent on a caregiver, rather than reinforcing a sense of independence. The Accessible Icon project was a step in the right direction, but it begs the question of whether there should be a symbol at all.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?
We are at a unique inflection point in history — there is so much going on from a social good perspective and people want to take action; but they are being bombarded with messaging from multiple causes, from all sides. The key is to capitalize this moment when important issues are at the forefront, while acknowledging that the average human mind is overwhelmed. In this sense, the role of effective design is to break through the clutter and stay highly relevant, while appealing to peoples’ deepest emotions through all of their senses.