How Kolar is Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders: Women Leading the Way in Experience Design

Kelly Kolar after receiving her SEGD Distinguished Member Award in 2017.

SEGD honors Women’s History Month by highlighting a dedicated entrepreneur and showcasing the advancement of women leaders within her firm. Kelly Kolar is president and founder of Kolar, an award-winning design strategy firm that specializes in insights and design for over 30 years. 

Kelly supports the growth and evolution of the design community, as demonstrated through her past roles as an adjunct professor as well as past President of the College Alumni Board for her alma mater, the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Commiting to a range of volunteer leadership roles throughout the years, Kelly is currently serving as a board member on the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, second vice chair of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Forum, and the Advisory Board with the Women’s Business Collaborative. 

Kelly’s method of leadership nurtures the future of design through education and mentorship, preparing talent for the evolving workforce, staying on top of industry trends and standards. Passionate in finding new and better ways to connect people, places, and brands, Kelly has guided the firm in a wide range of strategic innovation projects including mixed-use development, where placemaking is breathing life into urban areas; healthcare institutions that have become the heart of communities; and corporate settings, where shifting hybrid users and new technologies are redefining the workplace.

This mindset of positive impact trickles into all aspects of the team and firm culture, driven by the belief that great design is transformative, and that environments can be an agent of change for people, brands, and business. 

Kelly Kolar was recognized as the 2017 SEGD Distinguished Member for her commitment and contributions to inspiring new audience engagement, extending awareness of the field of experiential design and cultivating design communities. In 2023, Kelly Kolar committed to the SEGD 50th Foundation as a Gold Member firm.

Kelly Kolar demonstrates the importance of cultivating leaders within the firm, the local community, and within the design community; guiding team members to the ultimate growth potential both with Kolar and future endeavors. The firm’s resume of supporting women in SEGD volunteer leadership roles through the years includes various SEGD speaking engagements at the local and national level, at least four SEGD Board Members, at least four SEGD Cincinnati Chapter Co-Chairs, and Chairs for the SEGD Academic Task Force, SEGD Emerging Experiential Professionals, and the SEGD Membership Committee. 

Photo provided by Kolar Design.
Connections Between Women Leaders of Kolar and SEGD

This includes many but certainly not all of the commitments and roles on behalf of SEGD throughout the years. Listed team members include current and past* Kolar colleagues. 

Kelly Kolar, President & Founder 
2017 SEGD  Distinguished Member Award recipient. Previous SEGD volunteer roles: SEGD Board Member, Chair of the SEGD 2019 Virtual Management and Leadership Summit. Previous SEGD speaking engagements.

Mary Dietrich EDAC, Managing Director EGD
Previous SEGD speaking engagements within the SEGD Cincinnati Chapter region.

Joell Angel-Chumbley* MFA
2020 SEGD Educator Award recipient. Current SEGD volunteer roles:  SEGD Board Member, SEGD Academic Task Force Chair, and SEGD Academic Task Force member since 2011. Previous SEGD speaking engagements.

Hannah Anderson, Senior Designer
Current SEGD volunteer role: SEGD EXP Chair and SEGD EXP committee member since 2019. Previous SEGD volunteer roles: SEGD Cincinnati Chapter Chair and SEGD Board Member. Previous SEGD speaking engagements.

Annelle Stotz*
2023 SEGD Distinguished Member Award recipient. Previous SEGD volunteer roles:  SEGD Seattle Chapter Chair, SEGD Auction for Excellence Chair, SEGD Board Member and SEGD Membership Committee Chair. Previous SEGD speaking engagements.

Suzanne Hopkins, Senior Designer
Current SEGD volunteer role: SEGD Cincinnati Chapter Chair.

Mikayla McMellan, Designer
Current SEGD volunteer role: SEGD Cincinnati Chapter Chair.

About Kolar
For more than 30 years, Kolar has explored the intersection of people, process, and place in pursuit of providing solutions that create a positive impact for our clients and communities. Learn more about Kolar.

As a founding member of the SEGD 50th Foundation, we are grateful for your commitment and dedication to our organization.

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