2023 Q2 CEO Update

Setting a Strong Foundation for the Next Fifty

As we approach the year’s halfway mark, it’s astonishing to realize how quickly time has passed. It feels like just yesterday we were starting the year, and now we find ourselves less than three months away from the 50th celebration at our conference on August 23-26th in Washington, DC.

Since assuming the role of CEO of SEGD in May 2020, my mission has been to create a new strategic plan, revamp our website and enhance the visibility of our organization. Navigating my new position and pursuing my dreams for SEGD required finding a balance between solvency and adaptability throughout the two years of the pandemic. Shifting our content to digital platforms presented new opportunities, making us more accessible and exposing us to a broader audience than ever before.

Three years later, with two successful in-person conferences and our recent 2023 Wayfinding + Placemaking event in Los Angeles behind us, the transformative change I set out to achieve as CEO has gained momentum. Our SEGD community, as well as the design community at large, has started to take notice. Something special is happening at SEGD!

The Three “Legs” of Organizational Transformation

As Maya Angelou once said, “Every journey begins with a single step.” The first milestone in our transformation was the year-long development of our updated strategic plan, completed in December 2022. In the new year, we have been actively pursuing our strategic priorities outlined in that document and we are beginning to see the fruits of our efforts.

As Forbes Council Member Reed Deshler emphasized, organizational transformation requires “the right tools, the right people, and the right approach.” So let’s start with the tools…

New SEGD Website

Starting in the fall of 2022, we have collaborated closely with our website development partners at Wide Eye Creative, named Fast Company’s Best Design Companies of 2022, to establish a robust and beautiful new website, launching in August. This involved regular coordination calls to review mock-ups, content structure, format, taxonomies, and specifications for migrating new and existing content to our customized platform. Today, all prioritized content from our current website has been successfully migrated. By the time this article is published, our SEGD internal team will have completed a one-day training course to upload new content. The work began on June 1st and continue through July, with our web firm preparing for the public launch of our live site.

New SEGD Look

As we worked with our web partner, it became clear that we needed to update our suite of brand assets. Despite limited time and resources, a passionate volunteer group from the SEGD Board stepped forward to establish a Brand Committee. Together, they navigated a brand refresh, enlisting the expertise of Michael Gericke of Pentagram. Completed in early January of this year, Wide Eye Creative incorporated the refreshed brand into the new web mock-up pages. We are excited to reveal the new SEGD brand at the conference in Washington, DC, where we will also introduce a line of long-awaited SEGD merchandise.

New SEGD Voice

During the approval process for the website’s look and features, we realized we had less than two months to rewrite all the copy for our numerous landing pages. Rather than simply copying and pasting content from the old website, we recognized the importance of aligning our new brand with a fresh and engaging brand voice. As we no longer have a dedicated writer on staff, we sought assistance from the Deem Journal Co-Founder/Creative Director Nu Goteh and their organization, Room for Magic (RFM). They eagerly took on the task of building upon the new brand, producing a brand positioning and articulation document as a basis for our updated website content. They then edited and rewrote over 45 pages of content, set to complete by the end of this week. With the help of our interns, we will be using the next two months to upload the content to our new website.

New SEGD Membership Platform

Simultaneously, we have been working on the back-end development to customize the Glue Up Membership Management Software Platform. We are nearing completion and currently testing a pilot program with volunteers from our Chapter Chair community. Additionally, we have successfully implemented our first event managed on the new platform for the 2023 SEGD Academic Summit. Over the next four months, we will provide training to our SEGD Board, Chapters, Committees, and Membership. Keep an eye out for an email from Nadia Adona, our Director of Membership and Media, for your turn to try out the new system.

The Right People for the Job

Building a new brand, voice, website, and membership platform requires a dedicated team. Elizabeth Griswold, our Special Projects Director, has played a vital role in keeping us on track and on budget. Alongside her, our full-time staff members Jennette Foreman, Nadia Adona, Sarah Miorelli, and Kristin Bennani have been instrumental in our success over the past three years. As Sarah and Kristin prepare to move on to new endeavors, we actively seek new talent to join our team. If you or someone you know would be a perfect fit for the Communications Manager or Director of Business Development positions, please encourage them to submit a cover letter and resume this week!

While expanding our staff is crucial, we also recognize the value of tapping into the passion and expertise of our community of experience designers. Our expanded committee structure provides opportunities for member leadership and impact. Over the past three years, we have established five new committees: the SEGD Racial Justice Commission, Membership Committee, International Committee, Sustainability Committee, and Strategic Revenue Committee. Contact us if you are interested in getting involved as a committee member or volunteering at the SEGD Conference.

The Right Approach

As we lay a new foundation for growth and community engagement, we must remember that success is not guaranteed by tools and teams alone. The theme of our 50th Anniversary Conference in Washington, DC, “Look Both Ways,” signifies our commitment to recognizing the effort and talent that have brought SEGD to where it is today. We aim to foster a welcoming and accessible community reminiscent of the camaraderie experienced at the early conferences at Cranbrook, as highlighted in my recent conversation with SEGD founders Rich Burns and John Berry.

Looking ahead, my commitment is to ensure SEGD remains financially sustainable and continues to deliver exceptional educational and inspirational programs and content. We are grateful for the individuals and organizations that have already committed to support our work through establishing the SEGD Fiftieth Foundation. Furthermore, our new tools will enhance awareness of our field of practice and help us grow our membership.

Remember to sign up for the conference in Washington, DC, and tune in to my ‘Making the Museum’ podcast with Jonathan Alger for more insightful discussions and updates on the future of SEGD.

Thank you for being a part of SEGD, and let’s continue this incredible journey together.

P.S. If you are interested in joining our team, please submit your cover letter and resume this week!