Dawn Hancock

Photograph of Dawn Hancock, Firebelly
Chicago, IL

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Since opening in 1999, Firebelly has produced solid work they believe in and clients trust. Work that has merited mention in a journal here and a design archive there. While certainly proud of the studio’s history and accomplishments, Dawn Hancock feels no need to rehash the past.

She prefers to live and work in the present, to make of it something rich and sustainable that can make a lasting impact.

Though the studio remains Dawn’s focal point and her center of gravity, Firebelly has expanded into a bustling little world that she hustles across daily. A world built with her own two hands, the fearless work of her team, and an abundance of neighborhood support. Already coordinating the annual Grant for Good, a charitable award that supports one non-profit for a year, she decided to launch her own organization, which evolved into an entire socially minded enterprise.

The Firebelly Foundation, established in 2006, includes several programs, each a reflection of Dawn Hancock’s passion and ethic. Under the Foundation’s umbrella, she established the Humboldt Park non-profit Reason to Give and runs the 10-day intensive Camp Firebelly for hungry young designers. Most recently, she started Firebelly University, an entrepreneurial incubator that emphasizes taking risks and doing good. Yet Dawn continues to ask what more could she be doing.

Dawn knows that sustainable innovation and social responsibility are not simply badges or buzzwords. They are principles. Ways to live. Through the Foundation’s work and her civic and social engagement, Dawn is ceaseless in her dedication to building and inspiring, to connecting ideas to individuals, and individuals to each other.

Upon joining the board of AIGA Chicago as Community Outreach Chair in 2009, Dawn seized upon the opportunity to create a free mentorship program available to the entire Chicago community. Each year, nearly 300 individuals from all areas come together in design therapy groups. They share their success stories as well as their missteps and questions, seeking and offering guidance regardless of career level. Together they form a community that believes, as Dawn does, that we are all in this together.

And still more. Always more. Dawn is thrilled to occasionally speak at design schools, workshops, and conferences near and far. Presenting at TEDxWindyCity in February 2010 was an honor and a challenge – terrifying, uplifting, and wholly exhilarating. As most things are. She is ready.

Dawn holds a BFA in Visual Communication from Northern Illinois University and was named one of The 11 Most Generous Designers by Fast Company.

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See Dawn Hancock's work at Firebelly

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