Read Time: 5 minutes
I can say that after being vaccinated for over a month, I was ready to venture out and take my first flight in over a year. I headed south to attend a fundraiser for a former client, the MAX (an SEGD Global Design Award winner), and on the way, planned a visit to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama and the SEGD 2020 Best of Show: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The weekend felt surreal, both invigorating to be out of DC and seeing some old friends, but also somber and reflective with the impact of the visit to the memorial weighing on me for the days following. It was an important reminder of the power that we have as experience designers and builders to create narratives in place and space—creating lasting impact for audiences.
It’s hard to believe that on May 11th, I will have been at SEGD for one year. Coming into the role, I knew that it was an incredibly tumultuous time for the membership due to the pandemic, yet I was hopeful we could get through it together. Looking back on the year, I am inspired by what an amazingly resilient community of diverse and brilliant practitioners you all are. I hope that I have reciprocated with a vision for the change that was needed at SEGD to survive and thrive.
To that point, I thought that I would take the opportunity to share with you what we have been working on both behind and infront of the scenes at SEGD. At the kick-off of the new year we talked about transparency and creating a “balanced scorecard” to keep us on track and on target with key objectives and goals that I was brought on as the new CEO to accomplish:
Goal: Ensure that the organization delivers value to our membership and continues to promote the field of experiential graphic design in the broader community
Action: We have been listening and evaluating what matters to our SEGD members. In addition, we understand that our organization has a critical role to play in racial equity in the field of design. We have spent focussed time on best practices and what tension points or barriers exist for members and prospective members when interacting with SEGD. From our initial findings, we have begun to implement the following strategies:
- Establishing a Racial Justice Commission to ensure that we are moving forward with accountability, creating visibility and accessibility to the BIPOC community through programming, expanded membership, outreach, awards and education.
- Expanding SEGD Member Tools by evaluating our existing website, professional development tools, networking/job opportunities and communication channels.
- Developing a Prototype Website and New Membership Platform to be beta tested beginning next month—June 2021—with the goal of a complete website redesign EOY.
- Member Outreach led by our newly established Membership Committee, we have a new 2021 Membership Survey, Membership Month of May, New Member Vanguard events, Young Designer Committee and new Student Member Groups.
- Expanding Partnership and Sponsorship opportunities with a redesigned SEGD Prospectus that highlights all the ways both designers and prospective partners can get involved and support SEGD throughout the year. We created new opportunities to engage partners to contribute through the new Vanguards Lists, virtual tours, webinars, and events. And we are setting up a new Strategic Partnerships Committee to support outreach moving forward.
Programming and Education
Goal: Evaluate and prioritize content across all SEGD communication and programming platforms to expand our support of professionals, BIPOC designers, international design and leading edge practices, professional development, business and experiential design tools.
Action: Over the last 12 months, we pivoted to all virtual events and added new types of programming to achieve our goals:
- Virtual Programming -
- Kicked off the summer with the live streamed “Achievement Awards and Auction”
- “Global Design Awards” was live streamed with 210 participants from 14 countries.
- During “Exhibition and Experience Month,'' we hosted more than 300 attendees and 41 speakers and discussed how we can create more equitable, unbiased and sustainable designs in the future.
- We focused on the global impact of the pandemic during the “Wayfinding and Placemaking Symposium” with speakers from six of the seven continents.
- “Branded Environments” focussed on learnings from around the globe, and “Xlab” (40% BIPOC speakers) our first event of 2021, received accolades for their inspiring and visionary speakers and content.
- Our most recent program “Management and Leadership,” was the first SEGD event to feature a lineup of all female speakers (40% BIPOC), and the event survey for M&L received outstanding ratings and new member signups.
- We were excited to announce that we were able to move our SEGD 2021 Annual Conference date to November 4-6th, in Philadelphia, in person again!
- Education - Expanded our Academic Task Force and updated -its mission and vision to respond to the changing needs in the academic community. Created “Present Yourself” as a free mentorship/critiques online event for students. Held first virtual Academic Summit, the largest attendance on record for this event with representation from 13 countries and 91 design programs. Published a new look and feel for the 2020 “Communication + Place” publication here.
Finance and Operations
Goal: To ensure the organization sustains and thrives even through this difficult time.
Action: We decreased expenses, received forgiveness for federal subsidies, and continue to build partnerships that support the educational programming initiatives.
I hope this provides some insight into what we have been focused on over the last year and our motivation to prove our value and commitment to our membership and the broader community that is impacted by and values the importance of experience design to build a better, more equitable, sustainable and healthy/happy world. We have the power to bring about change and inspiration, and I hope you will join me in seeing our mission and vision through.
Please participate in our SEGD 2021 Membership Survey that will be released within the next week. It’s a great opportunity to let us know how you think we’re doing and what you would like to see SEGD prioritizing as we look to the future.
In the meantime, just know how appreciative, honored and inspired I continue to be in this role. Make sure to get our upcoming events on your calendars and I look forward to seeing all of you in person at the conference in November in Philadelphia!!