LEAP Dialogues on the Road

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Jennifer May, Director, Designmatters October 11, 2016

The last week of September was a big one for LEAP Dialogues: Career Pathways in Design for Social Innovation, with two back-to-back events on the East Coast.

On Tuesday, September 27, LEAP Dialogues contributors, editors and the design community gathered at the School of Visual Arts MFA Products of Design space to celebrate LEAP Dialogues and the emerging practices in design for social innovation. Allan Chochinov, editor of the education-centric Future section of LEAP Dialogues, generously donated the space for the event and also spurred the idea for the creative, surprising program for the evening. Actors and spouses Adam and Jane Fujita were asked to consider excerpts from LEAP Dialogues and interpret the written dialogues as spoken-word performances. They performed excerpts from dialogues between Renuka Kher and David Sherwin, Cyd Harrell and Dana Chisnell, Valerie Casey and Barry Katz, and Robert Fabricant and Manuel Toscano, amplifying the tones of the various pieces by placing them in settings from a subway to an ashram. Fabricant and Toscano, both present at the event, got to see their dialogue performed and visually represented by a large wall-sized graphic representation, drawn by Adam, a well-respected graffiti artist. The evening wrapped with a ‘year-book’ style signing, with the guests for the evening requesting signatures from the 18 contributors and editors in attendance. Many thanks to Allan Chochinov, Alisha Wessler, the SVA MFA Products of Design students, Adam and Jane Fujita and all of the contributors who came to the event!


The next evening, Wednesday the 28th, Liz Danzico, Editor of LEAP Dialogues and Creative Director, NPR & Founding Chairperson, MFA Interaction Design, School of Visual Arts, moderated a panel at NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., called Design for Social Impact, inspired by the content of LEAP Dialogues. The panelists were Jennifer Brandel, CEO & Co-founder, Hearken and LEAP Dialogues contributors Mari Nakano, Design Lead, UNICEF Innovation Unit and Mollie Ruskin, Designer and Founding Member, United States Digital Service. Danzico opened the evening by asking the crowd to reflect on a moment in their own career paths that lead them to where they are now, leading to several moments of boisterous chatter in the audience. Brief introductions from Tom Hjelm, Chief Digital Officer, NPR and Dr. Mariana Amatullo, Lead Editor of LEAP Dialogues and Vice President of Designmatters, continued this thread as Hjelm spoke of his own journey from Hollywood writer and producer to his current path in digital media and Amatullo explained the inspiration behind LEAP Dialogues, which focuses specifically on career pathways in the emergent field of design for social innovation. The panelists also reflected on their personal career paths, and the current intersecting paths of design and media in typically formal, bureaucratic organizations. The evening concluded with questions from the audience, with the panel giving advice on how to inject design and innovation into people’s organizations and career paths. The full audio of the panel is available below. Special thanks to Liz Danzico, Tom Hjelm and the teams at NPR Design and NPR Digital Media.

Thank you to the Autodesk Foundation and VentureWell for their support of LEAP Dialogues.

LEAP Dialogues is available for purchase on Amazon.