Equity-based human-centered design: A panel and discussion

Thursday, April 19th, 2018


What happens when we design with equity as a core value?


Join our featured panelists and moderator to gain insight into the current conversation, best practices, and challenges of equity-based design.


featured panelists


Valerie Armstrong

Design Strategist, Context Partners


Valerie Armstrong is a Design Strategist at Context Partners, an insights and engagement firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Her commitment to inclusive and equitable design has been put into practice for brands like IKEA, Microsoft and Nike and social impact campaigns for several global philanthropies. She serves as the relentless champion of the audience’s voice and uses co-design and inclusive discovery to help clients align their strategic thinking to the needs of their audience.

Most recently, Valerie served as the creative director for the Indonesian Peat Prize, which wrapped this past January. Her work helped attract a global network of scientists and innovators working to conserve vital Indonesian peatlands—a crucial ecosystem in the fight against climate change.

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Founder of Sunny Minds - Life Design


As a Life Designer, Gui Curi helps people enact the life they want to lead. Combining design, facilitation, and coaching, he brings a theoretical fluency in psychoanalysis and adult developmental psychology to build purposeful pathways in sync with our time.  

Gui holds an MFA from Parsons School of Design in New York, where he furthered his expertise designing systems and services for impact at scale. His Thesis explored the role of design in setting up conditions for group awareness around Purpose and the meaning of work in the context of organizational cultures.

    Before moving to the US, Gui matured a 10+ year career in strategy working for enterprises such as Red Bull, Nike, Unilever, Time Warner, Yahoo! and Mars, among others. He then leaped towards design-led projects in his hometown of Sao Paulo, including the design of the Olympic Educational Program, for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. In the US, Gui worked as a Consultant in organizational design for leading firms August and Xplane.

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    CEO and Founding Managing Partner of Design+Culture Lab


    Joy Alise Davis, M.A. is an interdisciplinary design strategist who has held support and leadership roles in various social justice organizations. Joy is a Cincinnati native and graduate of Miami University with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Parsons The New School for Design with a Master of Arts in Theories of Urban Practice.

    Mrs. Davis is the founder of Design+Culture Lab, a research-driven, social enterprise that works in the realm of collaborative design, participatory design, and racial equity strategy. By addressing the complex spatial issues associated with cultural, racial, and ethnic inequity, Design+Culture Lab is one of the few that work in the intersection between racial identity and place. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) where she works to helps our Black community imagine the alternatives we deserve and build our political participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives.


    Chantal Iribagiza

    Research Assistant, The SWEETLab


    Chantal Iribagiza has been doing development work for five years. Before joining the SWEETLab, Chantal worked with Living Water International-Rwanda, managing community water facilities. The SWEETLab develops and implements remote sensing technologies to improve the collection of data and action on data in global health programs. 

    Chantal holds a BSc degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Rwanda and is getting a M.Sc. degree in Environmental Engineering from Portland State University.


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    Lauren Johnson

    Senior Vice President for Community Impact at Social Venture Partners Portland


    In Lauren Johnson's current role as Social Venture Partners Portland's Senior Vice President for Community Impact, she provides strategic direction and management of SVP's investments in organizations and initiatives that build capacity to solve intractable community problems collaboratively. The current focus is to ensure equitable access to high quality, culturally relevant preschool experiences for children across Multnomah County, especially those children from communities who have experienced systemic social, economic, and/or political inequity. Lauren helps bring this mission to life by facilitating collaboration between cross-sector partners and developing shared goals, metrics and strategies, so that all children in Portland have the foundation for learning and life success. 

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    Madison Loew

    Consultant at BECOME


    Trained as a service designer with an eye to community impact, Madison has leveraged the design process to bridge the participation gap in community wealth building at a state, city, and community level. From these experiences, she’s seen that bringing our city’s constituents into the process is a meaningful and effective way to bridge different perspectives, and give birth to powerful ideas. As a natural communicator comfortable with ambiguity, Madison often finds herself playing the role of translator. As someone who is passionate about designing equitable systems and building experiences powered and owned by the community, she is excited to work with BECOME to help others participate in our city’s tomorrow.


    Panel moderator


    Sophia Tzeng

    Principal Consultant at Asceta

    Sophia Tzeng is a design strategist and advisor helping organizations and leaders scale social impact. Through her company, Asceta, she provides strategic design, executive advising, contract management and facilitation services to organizations seeking to innovate, become socially responsible, and develop agile, human-centered practices, specializing in executive teams, startups, and small to medium-sized social businesses and nonprofits. She also leads strategic planning and organizational change projects for matrix organizations as an XPLANE consultant.


    PANEL & DISCUSSION Sponsored by studio b:ask, Social Venture Partners Portland, and THe OpenIDEO Portland Chapter


    Special Thanks to our host, Expensify