Creating space to flourish

In 2014, I joined the AIGA Central Pennsylvania board as communications chair. I had helped form a student group at Millersville, as an undergrad, and went to as many events as I could when the chapter put them on, hoping to network and meet designers in my area. I also began to keep an eye on the Philadelphia chapter and what they were up to (AIGA has 72 chapters across the country). 

AIGA Philadelphia had a mentorship program that I wanted to exist in Central Pennsylvania so badly. I knew I needed to form mentor-like relationships with designers in my area to get to where I wanted to be in two years, let alone five and ten, but I had no idea where to begin with creating those relationships. So, I got involved. Three years later - the mentorship program is piloting this fall

My hope for the program is that it helps create a culture of mentorship in Central Pennsylvania, in our agencies and companies and in our community, as a whole. A culture of mentorship leads to a culture of creating and allowing for better support of one another, which strengthens the community and the profession. I hope to facilitate better relationships between designers emerging into the field, full of questions with those who've experienced 5+ years in the field. There's something to be said about sharing a human experience - and the benefit of that. 

Design & User Experience at AmericaEast

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a panel discussion/presentation on User Experience and Design in news media websites and applications. My role was to come in as a general industry expert on a panel of folks with significantly more experience in the news industry than myself. We discussed the benefits of atomic design, general user experience rules and design fundamentals to follow when considering a website redesign or overhaul, and where news media is currently, in the larger realm of design trends.

My AIGA

Last month, Jared & I were invited up to New York to visit the national AIGA offices and share our experiences as board members of the Central Pennsylvania chapter. In February, two national staff members came to visit for our February Coffee & Create, where Joshua gave a presentation on presenting work to clients.

The opportunity to share our story, as a chapter, and our journeys as board members was incredibly exciting. AIGA has played a large role in my development as a designer, and community leader, and there were so many stories and lessons I wanted to share with the national staff. 

Our chapter covers Harrisburg, Lancaster and York, for the most part. We also occasionally reach the Reading and Penn State areas, as well as all the little towns, in between. As President, two goals for my term are to 1. creating sustainable community among our cities and 2. listen to our membership to provide what they want and need in order to thrive in their roles.

 

The presentation I gave to the national staff chronicled my journey with the chapter, where it was before I got involved and where we are now. I shared what got me involved initially, which began as Joshua's request and later became a need for a creative outlet, and what keeps me with the chapter (our community, my board, the empowerment I've found to create). I shared my proudest professional accomplishment to date: becoming the first female President of the chapter, and perhaps the youngest.

I say it often, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have AIGA backing me up, supporting me, sustaining me. I've found an outlet to test leadership, create community and empower the people I surround myself with.

Sharing Knowledge: AIGA Philly's Get Ready!

Being as involved as I am in AIGA Central Pennsylvania means I have a huge AIGA family spanning the entire country, with some of those folks being as close as Philadelphia and Blue Ridge.

I try to make it out to the Philadelphia chapter as often as I can for their events, and most recently, I was asked to participate on their panel for design undergrads! I started my design journey in Philadelphia, before transferring to Millersville and moving to the Lancaster.

I was thrilled to moderate the panel, which included four Philadelphia-based designers ranging from a year out of school to six. The all-day event also included mock portfolio reviews, workshops and impromptu portfolio reviews by the panelists and myself. 

And then, I taught.

Last weekend, I taught my first front end development class! Can you say, exciting?

Back in November, I was invited by Girl Develop It Lehigh Valley to lead an Intro to HTML & CSS workshop in Allentown over the course of two days. I immediately (and enthusiastically) replied yes, eager to finally lead a class and share some knowledge with a curious group.

The class went wonderfully. So wonderfully, that I am still beyond psyched about it. Our group ranged greatly in age, ethnicity, background and experience-level. We covered a good bit of information (all of GDI's courses are open source btw) ranging from the basics-basics, to a layouts 101, and the fundamentals of CSS.

Teaching the class, and not just watching, but participating in helping the women understand the rules, semantics and rhyme and reason to HTML & CSS was an incredible, overwhelming feeling of positivity. Here I am, self taught out of curiosity, explaining how to structure a document, and what elements you'll need in the head of your document. It's pretty awesome and personally, teaching some of the aspects that I had learned on my own, with little explanation, helped reframe some of the concepts in my own mind (I'm looking at you floats & absolute positioning).

I loved being able to explain and walk the women through building a basic, first website, but, equally, if not more than that, I enjoyed the opportunity to really practice and build up on empathy. I strongly feel that it is incredibly important for designers and developers to take some time out of what they do, and teach someone else something.

The act of teaching is a learning experience, in itself, and one of the most important traits of a good teacher is empathy. Teach someone, who knows a bit about what you do, the basics. Teach a group of students how to write their first few lines of code. In order to succeed, you have to not only be able to explain the concepts you're teaching, but consider what you know about the people you are teaching and how you have to adapt what you want to say, in a way that just about anyone is able to pick up on it, and, with some help, dive in.