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DFA Sparks Series: Fall 2020

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Join us for inspirational speakers, workshops, and discussions that bring the best of the DFA network to your living room!

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The Design for America Sparks Series returns for the fall season! These Wednesday webinars are a trademark of the DFA spirit, bringing reflections, resources, and inspiration right to your living room.

These thought-provoking chats invite leaders to bring their expertise and personality to the table. Whether attending one or all of the six webinars, participants connect with intergenerational and multidisciplinary DFA alumni, students, professionals, and educators to share inspiration and strengths across industries.

This program is free and open to the public. A zoom link with a passcode will be emailed upon registration. All presentations will be recorded and sent to participants once available.


October 21

Recentering in Design Education with Lesley-Ann Noel. In conversation with Liz Gerber, hear what these leading educators are centering within their practice and how they approach and adapt historically exclusive design cannons.

October 28

"A button is such a primitive communication device. We think about electronics and social media when we think of things going viral, but ideas can be spread just as easily by wearing a button." -Milton Glaser

Button Power: 125 Years of Saying it with Buttons with Christen Carter. From the campaign trail to the rock tour, BUTTON POWER collects a people's history of American culture told through the accessible, activist-friendly pin-back button. This event is done in collaboration with Civilization's Design Lecture Series and pairs with an online exhibition of Christen's work.

November 11

Agents of Change: Civic Participation, Practice, Presence. What does it mean to work on the front lines of social impact and how do you remain hopeful and focused in the face of so many roadblocks? Join Alvin Schexnider (IL Department of Human Services), Jenny Kempson (US Department of Veteran Affairs), and Lulu Mickelson (Mayors Fund for Los Angeles) as they talk about the role of design's impact in change at inter-personal, local, and national levels.

November 18

The future is here, the future is us with Creative Reaction Lab's Quinton Ward. Quinton reminds us how young people are actively changing the future of design. An executive director at 24, his ideas around leadership, collaboration, and possibility remind us of the work we all have to do supporting the next generation of social innovators. Quinton runs the St Louis MetroMarket, a grocery store on wheels, dedicated to restoring access to healthy, affordable food to St Louis neighborhoods with limited food access.

December 2

We Should Get Together's Kat Vellos on what she's learned about building and maintaining friendships during the pandemic.

December 9

Why Voting isn't Enough with Yordanos Eyoel. Do you feel frustrated or overwhelmed by the current state of politics? Are you unsure about what you can do to strengthen our democracy? In this talk, Yordanos Eyoel, an Ethiopian-American, offers practical solutions, based on her life experiences and research, on how we can use our day-to-day actions to unleash our civic power and transform our democracy and our country.


Lesley-Ann Noel

As the Associate Director for Design Thinking for Social Impact and Professor of Practice, Lesley-Ann Noel teaches design-thinking courses for the Tulane School of Architecture's Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship Minor program and build capacity for design thinking education through facilitations, consultations, and trainings at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.

Christen Carter - Button Power: 125 Years of Saying it with Buttons

From the campaign trail to the rock tour, BUTTON POWER (Princeton Architectural Press) collects a people's history of American culture told through the pin-back button. Lively commentary from two of America's foremost button experts shows how the small but powerful button reveals the events and movements that outraged, amused, and inspired us over time, from the solo flight of Charles Lindbergh to the Black Power movement. Artists, athletes, actors, politicians, punk and pop musicians, and mascots of the past 125 years make cameos, including Rube Goldberg, Muhammad Ali, the Ramones, Shirley Chisholm, and Bette Midler are all covered in this book!

Quinton Ward

Quinton Ward is an interdisciplinary artist based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Working in the intersection of art, design, and community. He is the Executive Director of the newly launched St Louis MetroMarket.

Kat Vellos - We Should Get Together

Kat Vellos is on earth to empower people to learn, grow, and thrive. She helps others transform platonic longing, loneliness, and disconnection into meaningful connection and community. She is the author of We Should Get Together. She is also the founder and leader of Bay Area Black Designers, which is Silicon Valley’s largest unofficial employee resource group for Black design talent.

We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive culture that encourages people to have discussions about design for social impact. Our community has zero tolerance for harassment, hate, or discrimination of any kind. Anyone who does not follow these guidelines will be removed from DFA Programming.

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