2021 Q4 CEO Update: Energized, Evolving and Experience Focused

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Happy New Year to our SEGD community!

As we turn off our holiday “away” messages and begin to scribe new 2022 “to-do” lists, let’s take a brief moment here to look back and celebrate all that we accomplished in 2021. We ended last year on a high note, coming off our first in-person SEGD Conference in Philadelphia after a two-year hiatus. Despite our distance, one thing continues to rise to the top about SEGD: our organization is filled with impassioned hearts, minds and creative excellence! Energized from reconnecting and the inspiring content shared, we embark on the new year, set to expand our outreach, programming and impact.

For those who attended the SEGD President’s Reception at the Conference, we were able to share a personalized thanks to our outgoing President, Anna Crider, for her leadership over the last two years. Anna summed up SEGD’s year and what we were able to accomplish together in her final President’s Update.

We welcome our incoming SEGD President, Kathy Fry, and look forward to hosting us in her hometown for the 2022 SEGD Conference, June 16–18th in Portland, OR.

Last year, we expanded our membership and increased engagement among new members. Despite the continued pandemic, we saw our membership increase year over year by 18%—exceeding pre-pandemic numbers! We also saw our student memberships double in 2021! We believe this reflects the effort and strategies put in place last year by our newly established Membership Committee. We focused keenly throughout the year to understand what benefits are most critical now to our members. SEGD’s latest membership survey (May 2021) gave us new insights and areas of focus to deliver and improve value and services. 

Continuing on that theme of expanding and evolving, we will embark on several exciting new initiatives in 2022! After completing their Phase 1 DEAI Listening Tour, Brice Consulting Group will initiate DEAI training sessions with our staff, Board and Chapter Chairs, and continue that engagement throughout 2022. Our work to become a more inclusive organization is crucial to the future success of our organization and profession!

The work that we are engaged with as part of our Racial Justice Commission informs all aspects of the organization, including content, programming and standards of excellence. To learn more about the RJC, follow the link.

What matters to you, matters to us. We want to continue this iterative conversation with our community of diverse practitioners and thinkers. Over the course of the last two years, we have learned that being agile, listening and experimenting is key to surviving in an unpredictable world. We are working to better evaluate what content is most important to our membership. And we are keen for your input and expertise as we embark on new educational content and programming. Themes and topics that seem to be rising to the top are: 

  • Employee recruitment and retention (sign up for our 2nd SEGD Job Fair, January 20th)
  • Health and wellbeing, both in our practices and in the designs we create
  • Best practices and life/work balance in the workplace: remote, in-person, hybrid  
  • Design education, ensuring a diverse talent pipeline in experience design
  • Sustainability and the impact of our work on the environment
  • Equity and decolonizing design in our practice and with our clients
  • Leadership and highlighting the value of “Return on Experience”— how our work impacts everything from
    healthcare and education to culture and placemaking, transportation and commerce
  • Ableism and accessibility in all aspects of experiential/environmental graphic design, both digital and physical

What’s next for SEGD.org? Knowing our website is a destination for people around the world seeking information about experience design and searching for practitioners, best practices and excellence in design through our Global Design Awards (reaching 478,000 people annually who read 2.55 million pages of content), we will continue to expand member benefits with a robust new website (the new Global Design Awards website was inaugurated in June of 2021). We are committed to implementing a new membership platform in Q2-4 of 2022 that will provide member-only access and features as part of our mission to educate, connect and inspire. 

Looking to the future of SEGD! We know the importance of providing insights, data and benefits that allow our members to increase their core competencies, grow their businesses and harness the power of design to build a better world. There’s no better time than now to reevaluate how we can best serve our membership and the greater community they serve now and into the future. In 2023, SEGD will celebrate its 50th Anniversary. We have so much to be proud of as a small but powerful association. Now, looking forward, —what can we do to sustain and expand the impact of experience design into the future?

In Q1–Q3 we will be updating our SEGD Strategic Plan. The last strategic plan was completed in 2015, so we are keen to reestablish how we:

  • Assess past successes and future challenges
  • Identify and prioritize key initiatives
  • Align and improve core capabilities
  • Build an actionable strategy map 

Once completed, we will continue our ever-evolving innovation/improvement cycle to respond to the changing needs of our membership. We will build on what we have heard from our membership via surveys and community forums. We must evolve to ensure we are a vital resource to our community. We are excited about this and look forward to receiving your feedback along the way. 

We hope you will engage with us more in 2022 and look forward to the next chapter as collaborators in the future of experiential design!


Cybelle Jones