IDEO.org, a branch of IDEO devoted to building scalable human-centered design solutions in impoverished regions of the world, has just announced its first group of fellows.
This inaugural class of eight “Innovators in Residence” in the 11-month program includes five professionals from outside IDEO. They are: Emily Friedberg, recently a foreign affairs associate at Booz Allen Hamilton; Liz Ogbu, former associate design director at Public Architecture; Marika Shioiri-Clark, a founding member of Mass Design Group and a lead concept designer of the firm’s acclaimed Butaro Hospital in Rwanda; Jessica Vechakul, a mechanical engineer and business strategist with experience in water treatment, energy, and agricultural projects; and Salvador Zepeda, a former business analyst with McKinsey & Company.
In addition, three fellows have been selected from within IDEO. They are: Robin Bigio, an Italian-born industrial designer; Sarah Lidgus, a writer and strategist in the company’s New York office; and Adam Reineck, a principal designer in Palo Alto.
A trio of projects will be undertaken by the group: a partnership with the nonprofit organization Winrock International on increasing access to water for consumption and agriculture; consultation with the Rockefeller Foundation on strategic areas for investment in vulnerable communities; and the development of a TEDx in a Box to help communities lacking technology engage in the popular international conference program.
According to Patrice Martin, co-lead and creative director of IDEO’s social innovation domain, the fellows program has a threefold purpose. Primary among them is to “work on tough challenges” with the nonprofit organizations and foundations that are IDEO.org’s clients. But the program also seeks to foster the human-centered design expertise of a new generation of social-sector leaders so they “can apply it to the rest of their careers,” Martin says. Lastly, she aspires to spread the values and strategies of human-centered design more broadly, “contributing to an evolving conversation.”
Martin adds that even in the short time the fellows have come together, their diverse influences are rubbing off on one another: “Within two weeks, we’ve seen them gel as a cohort.”