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Designers in Residence Support Community-Driven Design Initiatives

Designers in Residence Support Community-Driven Design Initiatives

Designers in Residence Support Community-Driven Design Initiatives

Update: These interviews were done in advance of the COVID ’19 pandemic. Brian LeDuc and Grace Rieger’s innovative community work around changing academia and career development may take on more urgency in light of all the adaptations we are all having to take. We are excited to see what insight and approaches our new Designers in Residence take to the problems that now lie before us.  

In 2019, Grace Reiger and Brian LeDuc uprooted from Washington, DC and set out across the country together for San Diego. They brought them with a wealth of knowledge in community building around design, education and career development. Driven with a mission to spearhead community design initiatives and active communities across San Diego they saw a huge opportunity in bridging their work in Washington, DC with the needs of the San Diego community around service and career design. 

For some people driving change and building community is what they do. This is Brian and Grace. What they have been able to catalyze in such a short period of time is a testament to their drive to get things done and enrich their local communities. We couldn’t be happier to have them join us as Designers in Residence as they very much mirror the efforts of the Lab and our commitment to community impact.”

– Michele Morris, UC San Diego Design Lab Associate Director

Arriving in San Diego, Mr. LeDuc and Ms. Rieger realized San Diego had never had a “Service Jam”, an event surrounded by a global community they were intimately involved with and helped to foster in Washington DC. They immediately sought to change that.

We’ve participated in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community,” said Grace Rieger.”

What is a Global Service Jam?

Service Jam is truly an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design,” says Reiger.”

An international event that takes place annually on the same weekend at over 100 cities across the world, Service Jam gets communities teaching and learning Service Design. It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others.

Watch the video below to get a better sense of how the Global Service Jam works.

In a matter of three months LeDuc and Reiger went from the initial concept and planning to execution of San Diego’s first Service Jam in partnership with the UC San Diego Design Lab and the Design Forward Alliance. While this year’s Service Jam was postponed due to COVID ’19, they are hard at work on new initiatives to continue this important work. For more information click HERE.

Joining Design Lab as Designers in Residence

Grace and Brian really exemplify what we strive for in the Design Lab. A community first approach to design – one built on identifying challenges and jointly coming up with tangible solutions with and for those in need of them. We are extremely lucky to have two Designers in Residence on board who embody those principles.”

– Michele Morris, Associate Director, Design Lab

Designers in Residence at Lab have always been an integral part of the Design Lab ecosystem. They are the practitioners who link the lab, its research and our community at UC San Diego with the outside world. Rather than solely being driven by academic achievement or research accolades, Design Lab’s Designers in Residence are selected based on the power of their community work and their innovative approaches as practitioners in bridging the divide between design, education and real world operation. To learn more about Brian and Grace, you can read their Q&A’s and watch their videos below.

BRIAN LEDUC

Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work.  My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.”

– Brian LeDuc, Designer in Residence

1. How did you start to engage with the San Diego community on Service Jam? 

Last November, we contacted the President of Design Forward Alliance (DFA), a local design nonprofit organizing design activities in SD (led by an agency CEO) & pitched him on the Jam. He loved the idea and presented it for approval by DFA’s board and gave us a green light to plan when we arrived to SD in January 2019. 
We were overwhelmed by the positive, supportive response from the community: leading experts and practitioners in design (including Don Norman) spoke at the event alongside an amazing cadre of volunteer team mentors and coaches to support teams through the design process. ~40 attendees and 15 volunteers made the first year for Service Jam a huge success!

2. Describe your background more in-depth.

I started my career in student affairs as a highly involved undergraduate in leadership programming, orientation, residence life, career services, student government, and campus programming both on campus and regionally, I gained professional experience supporting orientation programs as an intern and as a graduate hall director for several communities at Texas A&M where I received my masters degree in Educational Administration. 
I started my career in student affairs running student leadership programs at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta, GA. I managed a program that paired KSU with another University elsewhere in the country to deliver leadership development based on the social change model, and focused on a locally relevant social issue to both communities. 
Students would then visit both communities, connecting with relevant leaders for the social issue we were focused on: when we looked at homelessness in Atlanta and Los Angeles, we went to homeless encampments, shelters, met with congressional representatives, nonprofit, and community leaders to learn more about the current state of the issue in each community, and challenged students to consider what skills and knowledge they could leverage to make change in their community.
After teaching in the award-winning First Year Experience department alongside supporting the development, execution, and redesign of leadership programs, I left GA to pursue a role with EAB in Washington, DC. There, I served as lead client expert for advising and student success data analytics platform to Presidents, Provosts, and other senior academic leaders representing 11 Universities representing $1.2Mil+ in firm contracts, managing implementation and end-to-end relationship with universities. Supported initial on-boarding, technology platform configuration, opportunity assessment, user training and consulting to drive value and ensure contract renewal.  I partnered with University leaders to identify and establish best practices for technology implementation resulting in firm-leading, nationally recognized, results.
Today, I use and teach human-centered design methods as the lead strategist, presenter, facilitator, executive relationship and project manager in human-centered design projects at the intersection of education and work at the Education Design Lab. 

3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase? 

Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work.  My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.

4. You did Second City? Describe that and how that came about? 

While I served at EAB, I was doing a lot of public speaking, presenting data analyses to senior leadership on campuses, as well as training academic advisors how to utilize insight from the advising tool I would help them implement on campus using 10 years of their universities’ historic data used to predict a students’ likelihood for success.  
I’ve always loved watching improv and have been to see many shows, and thought about how the skills learned in improv might translate naturally into my work; learning how to feel comfortable and confident in dynamic environments to work alongside leaders in collaborative ways. I saw that Second City was not only headed into DC where I lived and used a tuition reimbursement from EAB to attend a workshop for a few days to learn the basics. I spent time with a few cast members who led exercises and learning about improv that ended up lending naturally to my public speaking, and eventually into my understanding and teaching of design tools and methods– we share quite a bit in mindset and approach with the improv world!

5. Describe volunteer work and/or other things you like to do in your spare time.

When I’m not supporting community-design initiatives, outside of my full-time work, you can probably find me playing guitar, golfing, running, doing yoga, or checking out a new IPA while exploring new sights (especially beaches) in San Diego. When I’m away, I’m probably visiting my family in north Texas, friends across the country, or leading high school leadership retreats for Kiwanis International’s Key Leader program!

GRACE REIGER

It’s exciting to see how San Diego’s educational evolution is increasingly supporting workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.”

– Grace Reiger, Designer in Residence

It was serendipitous how I connected with the UCSD Design Lab. During a cross country move from Washington D.C. to San Diego (which is originally home for me) I was planning an event sharing Service Design with my partner, Brian LeDuc (also a Designer in Residence) called Service Jam. We’ve been participating in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community and who better to partner with than the UCSD Design Lab along with Design Forward Alliance! The USCD Design Lab helped to sponsor the event from providing all of the prototyping supplies and Don Norman graciously presented. The event was a huge success and we’re looking forward to the second annual San Diego Service Jam on March 20, 2020.

2. Describe your background and how you use design principles to manage the projects you are a part of.

I’ve always been passionate about the intersection of people, process, design and building or development. There were multiple examples through the years that I was taking a user centered approach to problem solving well before even learning about Human Centered Design which made it that much more meaningful when I began engaging with the design community in Washington D.C.
One fun example is when my childhood friend and I started the women’s golf team at Scripps Ranch High School to solve our own problem, “How might we play golf and qualify for college scholarships without having to change schools?” I ended up managing the women’s golf team at Arizona State University, playing golf for fun and completed my degree from the W.P. Carey School of Business in Supply Chain Management, a degree  where people, process, design and development intersect.
 I started my career as a Business Analyst for the nation’s largest gas line contractor, taking their procurement process online and integrating it with their accounting system. It was fascinating to study human behavior “in the field” and then contribute to designing technology systems that would improve procurement workflows. I then relocated to Washington, D.C. and migrated into healthcare, implementing enterprise software across large healthcare systems which focused on improving the efficiency of surgical operating rooms. 
A mentor introduced me to Product Management which encouraged and allowed me to bring together my passion for problem solving, using data and understanding how to design better experiences for end users or consumers. Product Management has been an amazing opportunity to work among many adjacent professions, from a wide array of designers, developers, product marketers, content writers, data scientists, business analysts, executive management, etc.

3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase and return to San Diego? 

San Diego offers a diverse set of industries, a growing tech market and deep knowledge and expertise around BioTech, medicine and healthcare. While I’ve enjoyed eight years serving the Healthcare industry from enterprise level to consumer facing solutions, I was looking to grow not only as a Product Manager but to see what I can bring to a new industry and learn from by taking on a new challenge. Returning to San Diego, I’ve taken the opportunity to pivot to consumer finance, joining Intuit to lead Turbo Tax for Self-employed users. San Diego has grown exponentially over the last decade and while it continues to be a national leader in Bio-Tech, San Diego has become more diverse across industries and growing in Tech.

4. Describe more about your involvement with Service Jam and other volunteer work.

The Service Jam is an international event that takes place annually on the same weekend, over 100+ cities are concurrently out in their communities teaching and learning Service Design! It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others. 
The weekend is a balance of learning and doing, there are four presentations that teach a new skill, followed by opportunities to work in a team to practice that skill. i.e. “What is Service Design?”, “How to prepare and conduct user interviews and field research”, “Ideating and Prototyping” and “How to test your prototype in the field”. The weekend concludes with sharing your prototype in a “Show, don’t tell” fashion which allows a team to walk us through their process and learnings through the weekend. 
Service Jam is an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design! You can also find me attending local monthly meet-ups (SDXD, UX Speakeasy, Product Tank, Women in Tech, Designing Women, Design Forward Alliance). I also love contributing and supporting other design events, like Design Camp with Eric Chagala and Dr. Kaleb Rashad.
Outside of full time work as a Product Manager, engaging with or leading design in the community, you can find me playing golf around local courses, enjoying a walk on the beach or hiking through local trails with Brian and my family.

5.What are your initial thoughts on San Diego’s Design & Education communities?

San Diego offers a rich community of meet-ups and organizations for designers to grow, teach and network with one another. Designers in a broad sense come from different backgrounds, there is something for everyone. It’s been interesting to see where the meet-up groups intersect across community, education and industry, usually focused on topics of social good by solving local community challenges. From my experience over the last 6-9 months returning to San Diego, the quality of events and engagement is high which is wonderful to see and be welcomed into. 
I haven’t had as many opportunities to engage with the Education community but from a distance, it seems like San Diego is innovating with new education models, approaches to curriculum and thinking about different learning styles. From K-12 with High Tech High, UDA in Downtown up to VIDA in North County, there is a growing interest from parents and children to explore new ways of learning. 
Beyond the many opportunities for higher education in San Diego, it’s exciting to see the evolving education to support workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.  

6. How can other cities help guide us in how we approach community-driven projects?

Look beyond San Diego for inspiration on new ways to integrate design, business and education communities. There are some amazing models across the country, one of my favorites to share is “Summer of Design” in Washington D.C. (https://www.summerofdesigndc.com/) It was started by a local meet-up group, DTDC who partnered with University of Virginia to provide design curriculum from Jeanne Liedtka and lastly each summer a new community partner sponsors “The Challenge” which is solving a local community challenge. For example, I participated in Summer 2016 and the Summer of Design partner was AmeriHealth, providing public health insurance to the under-served community. It was an amazing opportunity to meet with residents in the community to learn about how they overcome the challenges of navigating the healthcare system with often few resources and large families and help to design new solutions that were presented back to AmeriHealth. By participating in Summer of Design, you earn 6 of 12 credits towards a specialization in Design Thinking offered through the Darden Executive School of Education at the University of Virginia. I then went on to complete the remaining 6 credits online and applying what I learned in my day to day work as a Product Manager. 
Update: These interviews were done in advance of the COVID ’19 pandemic. Brian LeDuc and Grace Rieger’s innovative community work around changing academia and career development may take on more urgency in light of all the adaptations we are all having to take. We are excited to see what insight and approaches our new Designers in Residence take to the problems that now lie before us.  

In 2019, Grace Reiger and Brian LeDuc uprooted from Washington, DC and set out across the country together for San Diego. They brought them with a wealth of knowledge in community building around design, education and career development. Driven with a mission to spearhead community design initiatives and active communities across San Diego they saw a huge opportunity in bridging their work in Washington, DC with the needs of the San Diego community around service and career design. 

For some people driving change and building community is what they do. This is Brian and Grace. What they have been able to catalyze in such a short period of time is a testament to their drive to get things done and enrich their local communities. We couldn’t be happier to have them join us as Designers in Residence as they very much mirror the efforts of the Lab and our commitment to community impact.”

– Michele Morris, UC San Diego Design Lab Associate Director

Arriving in San Diego, Mr. LeDuc and Ms. Rieger realized San Diego had never had a “Service Jam”, an event surrounded by a global community they were intimately involved with and helped to foster in Washington DC. They immediately sought to change that.

We’ve participated in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community,” said Grace Rieger.”

What is a Global Service Jam?

Service Jam is truly an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design,” says Reiger.”

An international event that takes place annually on the same weekend at over 100 cities across the world, Service Jam gets communities teaching and learning Service Design. It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others.

Watch the video below to get a better sense of how the Global Service Jam works.

In a matter of three months LeDuc and Reiger went from the initial concept and planning to execution of San Diego’s first Service Jam in partnership with the UC San Diego Design Lab and the Design Forward Alliance. While this year’s Service Jam was postponed due to COVID ’19, they are hard at work on new initiatives to continue this important work. For more information click HERE.

Joining Design Lab as Designers in Residence

Grace and Brian really exemplify what we strive for in the Design Lab. A community first approach to design – one built on identifying challenges and jointly coming up with tangible solutions with and for those in need of them. We are extremely lucky to have two Designers in Residence on board who embody those principles.”

– Michele Morris, Associate Director, Design Lab

Designers in Residence at Lab have always been an integral part of the Design Lab ecosystem. They are the practitioners who link the lab, its research and our community at UC San Diego with the outside world. Rather than solely being driven by academic achievement or research accolades, Design Lab’s Designers in Residence are selected based on the power of their community work and their innovative approaches as practitioners in bridging the divide between design, education and real world operation. To learn more about Brian and Grace, you can read their Q&A’s and watch their videos below.

BRIAN LEDUC

Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work.  My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.”

– Brian LeDuc, Designer in Residence

1. How did you start to engage with the San Diego community on Service Jam? 

Last November, we contacted the President of Design Forward Alliance (DFA), a local design nonprofit organizing design activities in SD (led by an agency CEO) & pitched him on the Jam. He loved the idea and presented it for approval by DFA’s board and gave us a green light to plan when we arrived to SD in January 2019. 
We were overwhelmed by the positive, supportive response from the community: leading experts and practitioners in design (including Don Norman) spoke at the event alongside an amazing cadre of volunteer team mentors and coaches to support teams through the design process. ~40 attendees and 15 volunteers made the first year for Service Jam a huge success!

2. Describe your background more in-depth.

I started my career in student affairs as a highly involved undergraduate in leadership programming, orientation, residence life, career services, student government, and campus programming both on campus and regionally, I gained professional experience supporting orientation programs as an intern and as a graduate hall director for several communities at Texas A&M where I received my masters degree in Educational Administration. 
I started my career in student affairs running student leadership programs at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta, GA. I managed a program that paired KSU with another University elsewhere in the country to deliver leadership development based on the social change model, and focused on a locally relevant social issue to both communities. 
Students would then visit both communities, connecting with relevant leaders for the social issue we were focused on: when we looked at homelessness in Atlanta and Los Angeles, we went to homeless encampments, shelters, met with congressional representatives, nonprofit, and community leaders to learn more about the current state of the issue in each community, and challenged students to consider what skills and knowledge they could leverage to make change in their community.
After teaching in the award-winning First Year Experience department alongside supporting the development, execution, and redesign of leadership programs, I left GA to pursue a role with EAB in Washington, DC. There, I served as lead client expert for advising and student success data analytics platform to Presidents, Provosts, and other senior academic leaders representing 11 Universities representing $1.2Mil+ in firm contracts, managing implementation and end-to-end relationship with universities. Supported initial on-boarding, technology platform configuration, opportunity assessment, user training and consulting to drive value and ensure contract renewal.  I partnered with University leaders to identify and establish best practices for technology implementation resulting in firm-leading, nationally recognized, results.
Today, I use and teach human-centered design methods as the lead strategist, presenter, facilitator, executive relationship and project manager in human-centered design projects at the intersection of education and work at the Education Design Lab. 

3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase? 

Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work.  My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.

4. You did Second City? Describe that and how that came about? 

While I served at EAB, I was doing a lot of public speaking, presenting data analyses to senior leadership on campuses, as well as training academic advisors how to utilize insight from the advising tool I would help them implement on campus using 10 years of their universities’ historic data used to predict a students’ likelihood for success.  
I’ve always loved watching improv and have been to see many shows, and thought about how the skills learned in improv might translate naturally into my work; learning how to feel comfortable and confident in dynamic environments to work alongside leaders in collaborative ways. I saw that Second City was not only headed into DC where I lived and used a tuition reimbursement from EAB to attend a workshop for a few days to learn the basics. I spent time with a few cast members who led exercises and learning about improv that ended up lending naturally to my public speaking, and eventually into my understanding and teaching of design tools and methods– we share quite a bit in mindset and approach with the improv world!

5. Describe volunteer work and/or other things you like to do in your spare time.

When I’m not supporting community-design initiatives, outside of my full-time work, you can probably find me playing guitar, golfing, running, doing yoga, or checking out a new IPA while exploring new sights (especially beaches) in San Diego. When I’m away, I’m probably visiting my family in north Texas, friends across the country, or leading high school leadership retreats for Kiwanis International’s Key Leader program!

GRACE REIGER

It’s exciting to see how San Diego’s educational evolution is increasingly supporting workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.”

– Grace Reiger, Designer in Residence

It was serendipitous how I connected with the UCSD Design Lab. During a cross country move from Washington D.C. to San Diego (which is originally home for me) I was planning an event sharing Service Design with my partner, Brian LeDuc (also a Designer in Residence) called Service Jam. We’ve been participating in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community and who better to partner with than the UCSD Design Lab along with Design Forward Alliance! The USCD Design Lab helped to sponsor the event from providing all of the prototyping supplies and Don Norman graciously presented. The event was a huge success and we’re looking forward to the second annual San Diego Service Jam on March 20, 2020.

2. Describe your background and how you use design principles to manage the projects you are a part of.

I’ve always been passionate about the intersection of people, process, design and building or development. There were multiple examples through the years that I was taking a user centered approach to problem solving well before even learning about Human Centered Design which made it that much more meaningful when I began engaging with the design community in Washington D.C.
One fun example is when my childhood friend and I started the women’s golf team at Scripps Ranch High School to solve our own problem, “How might we play golf and qualify for college scholarships without having to change schools?” I ended up managing the women’s golf team at Arizona State University, playing golf for fun and completed my degree from the W.P. Carey School of Business in Supply Chain Management, a degree  where people, process, design and development intersect.
 I started my career as a Business Analyst for the nation’s largest gas line contractor, taking their procurement process online and integrating it with their accounting system. It was fascinating to study human behavior “in the field” and then contribute to designing technology systems that would improve procurement workflows. I then relocated to Washington, D.C. and migrated into healthcare, implementing enterprise software across large healthcare systems which focused on improving the efficiency of surgical operating rooms. 
A mentor introduced me to Product Management which encouraged and allowed me to bring together my passion for problem solving, using data and understanding how to design better experiences for end users or consumers. Product Management has been an amazing opportunity to work among many adjacent professions, from a wide array of designers, developers, product marketers, content writers, data scientists, business analysts, executive management, etc.

3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase and return to San Diego? 

San Diego offers a diverse set of industries, a growing tech market and deep knowledge and expertise around BioTech, medicine and healthcare. While I’ve enjoyed eight years serving the Healthcare industry from enterprise level to consumer facing solutions, I was looking to grow not only as a Product Manager but to see what I can bring to a new industry and learn from by taking on a new challenge. Returning to San Diego, I’ve taken the opportunity to pivot to consumer finance, joining Intuit to lead Turbo Tax for Self-employed users. San Diego has grown exponentially over the last decade and while it continues to be a national leader in Bio-Tech, San Diego has become more diverse across industries and growing in Tech.

4. Describe more about your involvement with Service Jam and other volunteer work.

The Service Jam is an international event that takes place annually on the same weekend, over 100+ cities are concurrently out in their communities teaching and learning Service Design! It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others. 
The weekend is a balance of learning and doing, there are four presentations that teach a new skill, followed by opportunities to work in a team to practice that skill. i.e. “What is Service Design?”, “How to prepare and conduct user interviews and field research”, “Ideating and Prototyping” and “How to test your prototype in the field”. The weekend concludes with sharing your prototype in a “Show, don’t tell” fashion which allows a team to walk us through their process and learnings through the weekend. 
Service Jam is an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design! You can also find me attending local monthly meet-ups (SDXD, UX Speakeasy, Product Tank, Women in Tech, Designing Women, Design Forward Alliance). I also love contributing and supporting other design events, like Design Camp with Eric Chagala and Dr. Kaleb Rashad.
Outside of full time work as a Product Manager, engaging with or leading design in the community, you can find me playing golf around local courses, enjoying a walk on the beach or hiking through local trails with Brian and my family.

5.What are your initial thoughts on San Diego’s Design & Education communities?

San Diego offers a rich community of meet-ups and organizations for designers to grow, teach and network with one another. Designers in a broad sense come from different backgrounds, there is something for everyone. It’s been interesting to see where the meet-up groups intersect across community, education and industry, usually focused on topics of social good by solving local community challenges. From my experience over the last 6-9 months returning to San Diego, the quality of events and engagement is high which is wonderful to see and be welcomed into. 
I haven’t had as many opportunities to engage with the Education community but from a distance, it seems like San Diego is innovating with new education models, approaches to curriculum and thinking about different learning styles. From K-12 with High Tech High, UDA in Downtown up to VIDA in North County, there is a growing interest from parents and children to explore new ways of learning. 
Beyond the many opportunities for higher education in San Diego, it’s exciting to see the evolving education to support workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.  

6. How can other cities help guide us in how we approach community-driven projects?

Look beyond San Diego for inspiration on new ways to integrate design, business and education communities. There are some amazing models across the country, one of my favorites to share is “Summer of Design” in Washington D.C. (https://www.summerofdesigndc.com/) It was started by a local meet-up group, DTDC who partnered with University of Virginia to provide design curriculum from Jeanne Liedtka and lastly each summer a new community partner sponsors “The Challenge” which is solving a local community challenge. For example, I participated in Summer 2016 and the Summer of Design partner was AmeriHealth, providing public health insurance to the under-served community. It was an amazing opportunity to meet with residents in the community to learn about how they overcome the challenges of navigating the healthcare system with often few resources and large families and help to design new solutions that were presented back to AmeriHealth. By participating in Summer of Design, you earn 6 of 12 credits towards a specialization in Design Thinking offered through the Darden Executive School of Education at the University of Virginia. I then went on to complete the remaining 6 credits online and applying what I learned in my day to day work as a Product Manager. 
Update: These interviews were done in advance of the COVID ’19 pandemic. Brian LeDuc and Grace Rieger’s innovative community work around changing academia and career development may take on more urgency in light of all the adaptations we are all having to take. We are excited to see what insight and approaches our new Designers in Residence take to the problems that now lie before us.  

In 2019, Grace Reiger and Brian LeDuc uprooted from Washington, DC and set out across the country together for San Diego. They brought them with a wealth of knowledge in community building around design, education and career development. Driven with a mission to spearhead community design initiatives and active communities across San Diego they saw a huge opportunity in bridging their work in Washington, DC with the needs of the San Diego community around service and career design. 

For some people driving change and building community is what they do. This is Brian and Grace. What they have been able to catalyze in such a short period of time is a testament to their drive to get things done and enrich their local communities. We couldn’t be happier to have them join us as Designers in Residence as they very much mirror the efforts of the Lab and our commitment to community impact.”

– Michele Morris, UC San Diego Design Lab Associate Director

Arriving in San Diego, Mr. LeDuc and Ms. Rieger realized San Diego had never had a “Service Jam”, an event surrounded by a global community they were intimately involved with and helped to foster in Washington DC. They immediately sought to change that.

We’ve participated in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community,” said Grace Rieger.”

What is a Global Service Jam?

Service Jam is truly an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design,” says Reiger.”

An international event that takes place annually on the same weekend at over 100 cities across the world, Service Jam gets communities teaching and learning Service Design. It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others.

Watch the video below to get a better sense of how the Global Service Jam works.

In a matter of three months LeDuc and Reiger went from the initial concept and planning to execution of San Diego’s first Service Jam in partnership with the UC San Diego Design Lab and the Design Forward Alliance. While this year’s Service Jam was postponed due to COVID ’19, they are hard at work on new initiatives to continue this important work. For more information click HERE.

Joining Design Lab as Designers in Residence

Grace and Brian really exemplify what we strive for in the Design Lab. A community first approach to design – one built on identifying challenges and jointly coming up with tangible solutions with and for those in need of them. We are extremely lucky to have two Designers in Residence on board who embody those principles.”

– Michele Morris, Associate Director, Design Lab

Designers in Residence at Lab have always been an integral part of the Design Lab ecosystem. They are the practitioners who link the lab, its research and our community at UC San Diego with the outside world. Rather than solely being driven by academic achievement or research accolades, Design Lab’s Designers in Residence are selected based on the power of their community work and their innovative approaches as practitioners in bridging the divide between design, education and real world operation. To learn more about Brian and Grace, you can read their Q&A’s and watch their videos below.

BRIAN LEDUC

Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work.  My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.”

– Brian LeDuc, Designer in Residence

1. How did you start to engage with the San Diego community on Service Jam? 

Last November, we contacted the President of Design Forward Alliance (DFA), a local design nonprofit organizing design activities in SD (led by an agency CEO) & pitched him on the Jam. He loved the idea and presented it for approval by DFA’s board and gave us a green light to plan when we arrived to SD in January 2019. 
We were overwhelmed by the positive, supportive response from the community: leading experts and practitioners in design (including Don Norman) spoke at the event alongside an amazing cadre of volunteer team mentors and coaches to support teams through the design process. ~40 attendees and 15 volunteers made the first year for Service Jam a huge success!

2. Describe your background more in-depth.

I started my career in student affairs as a highly involved undergraduate in leadership programming, orientation, residence life, career services, student government, and campus programming both on campus and regionally, I gained professional experience supporting orientation programs as an intern and as a graduate hall director for several communities at Texas A&M where I received my masters degree in Educational Administration. 
I started my career in student affairs running student leadership programs at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta, GA. I managed a program that paired KSU with another University elsewhere in the country to deliver leadership development based on the social change model, and focused on a locally relevant social issue to both communities. 
Students would then visit both communities, connecting with relevant leaders for the social issue we were focused on: when we looked at homelessness in Atlanta and Los Angeles, we went to homeless encampments, shelters, met with congressional representatives, nonprofit, and community leaders to learn more about the current state of the issue in each community, and challenged students to consider what skills and knowledge they could leverage to make change in their community.
After teaching in the award-winning First Year Experience department alongside supporting the development, execution, and redesign of leadership programs, I left GA to pursue a role with EAB in Washington, DC. There, I served as lead client expert for advising and student success data analytics platform to Presidents, Provosts, and other senior academic leaders representing 11 Universities representing $1.2Mil+ in firm contracts, managing implementation and end-to-end relationship with universities. Supported initial on-boarding, technology platform configuration, opportunity assessment, user training and consulting to drive value and ensure contract renewal.  I partnered with University leaders to identify and establish best practices for technology implementation resulting in firm-leading, nationally recognized, results.
Today, I use and teach human-centered design methods as the lead strategist, presenter, facilitator, executive relationship and project manager in human-centered design projects at the intersection of education and work at the Education Design Lab. 

3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase? 

Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work.  My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.

4. You did Second City? Describe that and how that came about? 

While I served at EAB, I was doing a lot of public speaking, presenting data analyses to senior leadership on campuses, as well as training academic advisors how to utilize insight from the advising tool I would help them implement on campus using 10 years of their universities’ historic data used to predict a students’ likelihood for success.  
I’ve always loved watching improv and have been to see many shows, and thought about how the skills learned in improv might translate naturally into my work; learning how to feel comfortable and confident in dynamic environments to work alongside leaders in collaborative ways. I saw that Second City was not only headed into DC where I lived and used a tuition reimbursement from EAB to attend a workshop for a few days to learn the basics. I spent time with a few cast members who led exercises and learning about improv that ended up lending naturally to my public speaking, and eventually into my understanding and teaching of design tools and methods– we share quite a bit in mindset and approach with the improv world!

5. Describe volunteer work and/or other things you like to do in your spare time.

When I’m not supporting community-design initiatives, outside of my full-time work, you can probably find me playing guitar, golfing, running, doing yoga, or checking out a new IPA while exploring new sights (especially beaches) in San Diego. When I’m away, I’m probably visiting my family in north Texas, friends across the country, or leading high school leadership retreats for Kiwanis International’s Key Leader program!

GRACE REIGER

It’s exciting to see how San Diego’s educational evolution is increasingly supporting workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.”

– Grace Reiger, Designer in Residence

It was serendipitous how I connected with the UCSD Design Lab. During a cross country move from Washington D.C. to San Diego (which is originally home for me) I was planning an event sharing Service Design with my partner, Brian LeDuc (also a Designer in Residence) called Service Jam. We’ve been participating in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community and who better to partner with than the UCSD Design Lab along with Design Forward Alliance! The USCD Design Lab helped to sponsor the event from providing all of the prototyping supplies and Don Norman graciously presented. The event was a huge success and we’re looking forward to the second annual San Diego Service Jam on March 20, 2020.

2. Describe your background and how you use design principles to manage the projects you are a part of.

I’ve always been passionate about the intersection of people, process, design and building or development. There were multiple examples through the years that I was taking a user centered approach to problem solving well before even learning about Human Centered Design which made it that much more meaningful when I began engaging with the design community in Washington D.C.
One fun example is when my childhood friend and I started the women’s golf team at Scripps Ranch High School to solve our own problem, “How might we play golf and qualify for college scholarships without having to change schools?” I ended up managing the women’s golf team at Arizona State University, playing golf for fun and completed my degree from the W.P. Carey School of Business in Supply Chain Management, a degree  where people, process, design and development intersect.
 I started my career as a Business Analyst for the nation’s largest gas line contractor, taking their procurement process online and integrating it with their accounting system. It was fascinating to study human behavior “in the field” and then contribute to designing technology systems that would improve procurement workflows. I then relocated to Washington, D.C. and migrated into healthcare, implementing enterprise software across large healthcare systems which focused on improving the efficiency of surgical operating rooms. 
A mentor introduced me to Product Management which encouraged and allowed me to bring together my passion for problem solving, using data and understanding how to design better experiences for end users or consumers. Product Management has been an amazing opportunity to work among many adjacent professions, from a wide array of designers, developers, product marketers, content writers, data scientists, business analysts, executive management, etc.

3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase and return to San Diego? 

San Diego offers a diverse set of industries, a growing tech market and deep knowledge and expertise around BioTech, medicine and healthcare. While I’ve enjoyed eight years serving the Healthcare industry from enterprise level to consumer facing solutions, I was looking to grow not only as a Product Manager but to see what I can bring to a new industry and learn from by taking on a new challenge. Returning to San Diego, I’ve taken the opportunity to pivot to consumer finance, joining Intuit to lead Turbo Tax for Self-employed users. San Diego has grown exponentially over the last decade and while it continues to be a national leader in Bio-Tech, San Diego has become more diverse across industries and growing in Tech.

4. Describe more about your involvement with Service Jam and other volunteer work.

The Service Jam is an international event that takes place annually on the same weekend, over 100+ cities are concurrently out in their communities teaching and learning Service Design! It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others. 
The weekend is a balance of learning and doing, there are four presentations that teach a new skill, followed by opportunities to work in a team to practice that skill. i.e. “What is Service Design?”, “How to prepare and conduct user interviews and field research”, “Ideating and Prototyping” and “How to test your prototype in the field”. The weekend concludes with sharing your prototype in a “Show, don’t tell” fashion which allows a team to walk us through their process and learnings through the weekend. 
Service Jam is an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design! You can also find me attending local monthly meet-ups (SDXD, UX Speakeasy, Product Tank, Women in Tech, Designing Women, Design Forward Alliance). I also love contributing and supporting other design events, like Design Camp with Eric Chagala and Dr. Kaleb Rashad.
Outside of full time work as a Product Manager, engaging with or leading design in the community, you can find me playing golf around local courses, enjoying a walk on the beach or hiking through local trails with Brian and my family.

5.What are your initial thoughts on San Diego’s Design & Education communities?

San Diego offers a rich community of meet-ups and organizations for designers to grow, teach and network with one another. Designers in a broad sense come from different backgrounds, there is something for everyone. It’s been interesting to see where the meet-up groups intersect across community, education and industry, usually focused on topics of social good by solving local community challenges. From my experience over the last 6-9 months returning to San Diego, the quality of events and engagement is high which is wonderful to see and be welcomed into. 
I haven’t had as many opportunities to engage with the Education community but from a distance, it seems like San Diego is innovating with new education models, approaches to curriculum and thinking about different learning styles. From K-12 with High Tech High, UDA in Downtown up to VIDA in North County, there is a growing interest from parents and children to explore new ways of learning. 
Beyond the many opportunities for higher education in San Diego, it’s exciting to see the evolving education to support workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.  

6. How can other cities help guide us in how we approach community-driven projects?

Look beyond San Diego for inspiration on new ways to integrate design, business and education communities. There are some amazing models across the country, one of my favorites to share is “Summer of Design” in Washington D.C. (https://www.summerofdesigndc.com/) It was started by a local meet-up group, DTDC who partnered with University of Virginia to provide design curriculum from Jeanne Liedtka and lastly each summer a new community partner sponsors “The Challenge” which is solving a local community challenge. For example, I participated in Summer 2016 and the Summer of Design partner was AmeriHealth, providing public health insurance to the under-served community. It was an amazing opportunity to meet with residents in the community to learn about how they overcome the challenges of navigating the healthcare system with often few resources and large families and help to design new solutions that were presented back to AmeriHealth. By participating in Summer of Design, you earn 6 of 12 credits towards a specialization in Design Thinking offered through the Darden Executive School of Education at the University of Virginia. I then went on to complete the remaining 6 credits online and applying what I learned in my day to day work as a Product Manager. 

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