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Jennifer May May 9, 2016

Analytics tell me that this is the hashtag I use most often across my social media accounts. This comes as no surprise to me because – and I think I can speak on behalf of the whole Designmatters team here – our jobs are truly awesome.

Jennifer-May_cc-860x770We work with students, faculty, and partners to integrate social innovation projects into the curriculum at ArtCenter. It is very special to work at the intersection of these groups, to help create the conditions for them to work together towards a common goal. We have the privilege of observing each project from start to finish, and more often than not, through implementation- we watch the faculty, students and partners learn from each other, overcome challenges, and achieve success time and time again.

We do this work through the lens of social innovation, bringing a sense of purpose to our ‘to do’ lists every day. Each partner brings a new challenge, a new mission, a new issue and we benefit from their deep knowledge and expertise, and we get to learn alongside our faculty and students about public policy, global health, social entrepreneurship and sustainable development. And in turn, we see our partners realize the power of design in addressing the issues that matter to them.

I think the most exciting part of every project is the final presentation, where students exhibit the outcomes of 14 weeks of research, development, and iteration. We are always in awe of the students’ ability to convey their passion, talent and intelligence through their creative, inspiring and thoughtful work. The finals always represent a moment for reflection as well – a moment to appreciate that we get to work with awesome people on meaningful projects in a program that has a 15-year legacy of innovation, creativity, and impact.

On behalf of the Designmatters team, thank you to Mariana for her visionary leadership in cofounding and guiding Designmatters. Thank you to Elisa Ruffino for developing the program blueprints we work from today. And thank you to the 900 students, 150 faculty, and 75 partners who built Designmatters into what it is today by participating in the more than 100 Designmatters studios, projects and Fellowships over the past 15 years. We look forward to building on that legacy for the next 15.


Jennifer May is the Director for Designmatters, where she oversees the Designmatters Fellowship Program, internal department initiatives and other special projects as assigned by the Vice President. Jennifer first joined Designmatters as the manager of the LEAP Symposium, a 2013 gathering of 150 thought leaders to discuss career pathways in the emergent field of design for social innovation. Jennifer earned her M.B.A. from USC Marshall School of Business, where she was chosen as a Society and Business Lab Graduate Fellow and served as Vice President of Programs for Net Impact, overseeing the USC Board Fellows Program and, as the Special Olympics Liaison for Challenge 4 Charity, leading her peers in the effort to earn over 3,000 volunteer hours.

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