Dr. Mariana Amatullo

Co-Founder and Vice President, Designmatters Department

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A practitioner-scholar, design researcher, strategist, educator and author, Mariana Amatullo is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Designmatters, the award-winning social impact department of ArtCenter College of Design, in Pasadena, California. Since establishing Designmatters as a new College-wide program in 2001, and later expanding it into an educational Department with Graduate offerings (through the Media Design Practices Field MFA) and an Undergraduate course of study (the Designmatters Minor in Social Innovation), Amatullo has helped conceptualize and manage a portfolio of global and national educational design projects, research collaborations and publications at the intersection of art, design and social innovation. Her international work leading experiential design projects and initiatives in design for social innovation have included partnerships with institutions and organizations in India, China, Uganda and several countries of Latin America (Chile, Mexico, Peru and Colombia) and Europe (France, Spain and Great Britain). Amatullo conceived and hosted in 2013 the now biennial LEAP symposium  series investigating emerging career pathways in design for social innovation and is the lead editor of LEAP Dialogues: Career Pathways in Design for Social Innovation published by Designmatters and available through Distributed Arts Publisher in 2016.

Through her leadership, ArtCenter became the first design institution to be affiliated as a nongovernmental organization with the United Nations and formally accredited with organizations such as the Organization of American States, the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund. Amatullo has been responsible for the stewardship of ArtCenter’s fundraising strategy in the design for social innovation domain, developing funded educational partnerships and grants with the support of several national foundations (National Endowment for the Arts, VentureWell, Surdna, Nathan Cummings), government entities (US Geological Survey, the office of the Mayors of Pasadena and Los Angeles) and private sector companies and corporate foundations focused on bringing design innovation to emerging markets and underserved populations (Ashoka, Nike Foundation, Autodesk Social Impact Foundation).

Amatullo serves on a variety of advisory and executive boards of organizations engaged in the arts, design education and social innovation, including ideo.org, the Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, the DESIS Network, the Winterhouse Institute, and the University of Southern California’s International Museum Institute. As part of her larger service and advocacy for the role of design as a driver of innovation in society, Amatullo participates in a number of national and international multidisciplinary initiatives that integrate design with the fields of science, business and technology. In this role she has been a founding steering-committee member for the Great California ShakeOut (2008), served on the committee to develop the “Design for Social Impact” report on a cross-sector agenda for design, education, research and practice with the Smithsonian National Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lemelson Foundation (2012), and served on the 2015  steerig-committee of the Keck Futures Initiative NAFKI Conference, a program of the National Academies of Science (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Amatullo lectures and teaches internationally about design principles and emergent practices in the field of design for social innovation, design for international development and design management. As a strategist, she focuses on assisting organizations recognize design attitude capabilities as drivers of innovation and organizational change. To that end, she has collaborated with the Aspen Institute Business and Society First Movers Fellowship Program, the Inter-Development Bank External Relations Department and the Government Innovation team of Bloomberg Philanthropies. She is the recipient of numerous design and social innovation awards and honors, among them the 2012 DELL Social Innovation Education award for outstanding leadership in teaching and supporting student social innovators, Fast Company’s Co.Design 50 Designers Shaping the Future, and the Public Interest Design 100.

Dr. Amatullo is a a Scholar-in-Residence and a Design and Innovation and Non-Profit Management Fellow at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.  Her dissertation “Design Attitude and Social Innovation: Empirical Studies of the Return on Design establishes the first quantitative metrics in the literature that demonstrate the statistical significance of design capabilities in the context of social innovation aims. She holds a Ph.D. in Management (Designing Sustainable Systems) from Case Western Reserve University; an M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California, and a Licence en Lettres Degree from the Sorbonne University, Paris, where she also studied Art History at L’Ecole du Louvre. A native of Argentina and the child of a diplomat, Amatullo grew up around the world. She lives in Pasadena, California, with her family.