Read Time: 4 minutes
2021 is here! And as with any new year, it’s a time for rejuvenation, revitalization, and recommitments to resolutions.
Here at SEGD, one of those resolutions includes a commitment to encouraging and advocating for diversity within the organization’s membership, programming and leadership.
In this spirit, SEGD welcomes two new members to the organization’s Board of Directors: Aki Carpenter of Ralph Appelbaum Associates (New York) and Dayton Schroeter of SmithGroup (Washington, DC). Both Carpenter and Schroeter have spent their careers championing great design, but also recognizing and promoting greater diversity within the design world and the larger society.
“I am honored and excited to welcome Aki and Dayton to our SEGD Board of Directors.” says Cybelle Jones, CEO of SEGD. “They are both talented and accomplished designers who have contributed much to the cultural community through their work and leadership. I know they will be invaluable to SEGD’s growth and evolution both in terms of DEI initiatives, but also to help chart our future as an inspiring and relevant international design organization.”
As a Principal and the Director of Social Projects at Appelbaum, Carpenter has worked on—and witnessed the opening of—more than 10 award-winning museums and cultural institutions. Recent examples include the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, DC) and International African American Museum (Charleston, SC). Her current projects include the Obama Presidential Center (Chicago, IL) and the Wangari Muta Maathai House (Nairobi, Kenya).
“I’m thrilled and honored to be asked to be part of the [SEGD] Board,” said Carpenter in a recent interview. “I’m really excited about the mission of SEGD and how it continues to push the boundaries of relevancy in the field, and how [SEGD] can be part of the cultural conversation today.”
Carpenter directly participated in that conversation this past August when she gave a presentation titled “Designers Elevating Untold Narratives” at SEGD’s “Exhibition and Experience Design” event.
“I focused on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, how my work elevated those untold narratives, and how an institution can do that responsibly and engage the community,” said Carpenter about her talk. “I’m also currently leading [the creative direction of] the Obama Presidential Center, specifically looking at the importance of engagement and the mission-based work of the Obama Foundation and tying that to history.”
Aside from creating great design experiences which engage visitors and amplify the histories of disenfranchised peoples, Carpenter also advocates for people of color in leadership positions within the design community itself. To that end, she co-founded (along with Inessah Selditz) the BIPOC Directors Collective, an initiative fostering current and future directors of color in the areas of advertising, architecture, theater, film/tv, museums, and technology.
“It’s pulling back the veil on our industry, ensuring the work we do is visible and accessible and attainable and showing that those barriers are being broken,” explains Carpenter about BIPOC Directors Collective’s role. “This is an historically non-diverse industry, and anything we can do to create transparency around those opportunities can help foster the next generation of leaders of color within the design community.”
In addition to these initiatives, Carpenter has been involved, in the past, with SEGD’s design awards. This is an area that her fellow board member, Schroeter, is currently very engaged with; he is serving as this year’s Chair of the SEGD Awards Committee.
“2020 offered a window of opportunity for designers of public space to reimagine the new normal,” explained Schroeter in a recent email. “The 2021 SEGD Global Design Awards will put emphasis on projects that have a positive impact on our society and culture; projects that create authentic experiences that allow for greater human connection and understanding.”
Schroeter is a Design Principal at SmithGroup, and throughout his career he has championed Design Justice advocacy. As a director of the firm’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Schroeter often leads design projects which address the systemic injustices perpetuated against communities of color.
"I've always been passionate about social justice issues," says Schroeter. "I will always naturally be an advocate for those issues and seek to use my influence to educate, inspire and empower people to do better."
Currently, Schroeter is leading antiracism efforts in the design of the proposed National Slavery Museum (in Richmond, VA) and also the traveling interpretative installation “Society’s Cage” displayed this past August and September on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Read and listen to SEGD’s CEO Cybelle Jones interview with Dayton Schroeter and Julian Arrington, lead designers of “Society’s Cage” here.
“We were inspired to create the installation following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” explains Schroeter in a recent press release. “[Society’s Cage] pavilion is a real and raw reflection of the conversations about racism happening now. It’s a physical manifestation of the institutional structures that have undermined the progress of Black Americans over the history of this country.”
Asked about his new leadership position on the SEGD Board, Schroeter views it as a reciprocal partnership.
"I see SEGD as another potential avenue of influence in my own design thinking. It's a university of multidisciplinary designers who are all contributing, shaping and supporting the totality of the built environment and public space in theory and in practice."
These ideals will inform Schroeter’s work on SEGD's awards committee. Speaking about the nominees for the 2021 SEGD Global Design Awards, Schroeter says “These projects help shape our awareness of the world we inhabit and, at their best, challenge us to be better citizens.”
Both Carpenter and Schroeter join SEGD’s 2021 Board of Directors. Their fellow board members include:
· Steve Bayer
· Anna Crider (President)
· Kathy Fry
· Lucy Holmes
· Christina Lyons
· Despina Macris
· Mike McCarthy
· Bryan Meszaros
· David Siegel
· Annelle Stotz
· Traci Sym
View the SEGD 2021 Board of Directors here.
SEGD would also like to acknowledge the work of Board Directors Chad Hutson of Leviathan (Chicago) and Hannah Anderson of Kolar Design (Cincinnati), who are stepping off the board. Thank you for your great work!