A collection of additional projects I have worked on across the globe.
Researching sustainability and revenue generation for the domestic workers’ movement globally
Client: Open Society Foundations, International Domestic Workers Federations | Year: 2019 - 2021
As part of ongoing support from Open Society Foundations to the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), I serve as a seconded member of IDWF’s newly formed sustainability team. In that capacity, I provide primary and secondary research and facilitation technical assistance for IDWF’s exploration of sustainability and revenue generation strategies for the domestic workers’ movement. I conducted desk research on revenue generation in labor movements and organizing in general, helped design, administer, and analyze a survey across IDWF’s global affiliates, and continue to provide recommendations to IDWF on avenues to pursue for the sustainability program (including through pilot projects and experiments).
Facilitating the co-design of a housing justice campaign with advocates from South Africa and New York City
Client: Open Society Foundations | Year: 2020
Open Society Foundations organized a study tour bringing together housing rights advocates (lawyers, researchers, and organizers) from South Africa and New York City to learn about and share strategies and tactics from their work. As part of this study tour, I facilitated a one-day co-design workshop, with the goal of collaboratively designing a housing justice campaign. The workshop was designed to provide a hands-on, practical way for participants to learn from one another and elicit new ways of approaching their work, from defining campaign objectives and understanding the communities they’re trying to serve and the stakeholders they’re attempting to influence, to defining the tactics to be used by the campaign, and planning for its execution.
Improving the volunteer experience of political tech ahead of the 2020 elections
Client: Empower | Year: 2020
Volunteer Experience 2020 (VX2020) is an initiative in partnership with Higher Ground Labs to help high impact political technology providers optimize the user experience of their volunteer-facing tools to improve the accessibility and power of volunteer engagement in the 2020 cycle. As a user researcher and designer, I worked with the team behind Empower, a product that helps organizers expand the electorate through relational organizing. We employed a “Discovery Sprint” model to quickly understand a complex program, service, or product inside an existing tech organization to surface challenges and develop targeted recommendations. I helped evaluate the volunteer experience of the Empower product from a heuristics point of view, interviewed Empower team members, observed product meetings and processes, reviewed internal training documents, and conducted user research and usability testing of the Empower product, in order to uncover insights around two main themes: the quality of the product itself, and the product design approach of the Empower team.
Understanding the transition experience for foster youth aging out of care in the US
Client: Bloom, Think Of Us | Year: 2019 - 2020
Bloom was approached by Think Of Us to conduct a research sprint with the aim of better understanding the transition experience for youth aging out of foster care, and identifying opportunities to improve the process. The research focused on: establishing a clear picture of the entire aging out process; understanding existing Independent Living Programs (ILP) and the ILP plan-making process; exploring the existing tapped and untapped relationships and connections that foster youth have, and their mental models around the people they have in their lives; unearthing how we can support youth to identify and activate support networks to help in their transition. As design consultant, I helped: conduct a desk review to look into Think Of Us-curated materials to ensure that there is a sufficient level of technical knowledge of the foster care space; plan for the research sprint, including the participant recruiting and sampling strategies, informed consent protocols, and research tools; conduct in-field research and debrief sessions; facilitate workshops with the Bloom and Think Of Us teams to align on the research scope and synthesize findings; as well create deliverables, including a findings report, a process map of the aging out experience, and other artifacts. The findings of this research were published in a report titled Aged Out: How We're Failing Youth Transitioning Out of Care and featured by Georgetown University's Beeck Center and the National Association of Counsel for Children's The Guardian. I have also written a blog post discussing the value of participatory methods in design research, which we used during this project.
Prototyping solutions to improve access to safe abortion services in Ghana
Client: YLabs | Year: 2019
As part of an ongoing engagement where YLabs is working with the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana as well as young people, providers, and key stakeholders to co-design and prototype youth-centered solutions to reduce unsafe abortion among adolescent girls in Ghana, I served as a contractor to support the team with the production low-fidelity prototypes that were field-tested with end users in Accra, as well as the creation of testing guides for each prototype. The solutions prototyped included both product and service ideas, requiring a range of prototyping skills from light cardboard fabrication and bookbinding to storyboarding, visual design and screen mockup creation, as well as card sort materials and paper prototyping.
Training sex educators to understand and address for the sexual health needs of tech-immersed youth in the US
Client: YTH (an ETR initiative), Healthy Teen Network | Year: 2019
As part of Healthy Teen Network's yearly conference, a design challenge was organized to tackle the challenges of sexuality and technology that arise with the proliferation of dating apps, sexting, user-generated explicit media, and sex toys powered by artificial intelligence. Attendees of the conference, including sex educators and practitioners, were invited to tackle the following question: How might we equip young people to develop healthy sexualities and have pleasurable sexual lives in the cyborg era? As co-facilitator, I helped conduct a workshop training on human-centered design to help participants understand the sexual health needs of a tech-immersed generation, identify opportunities for design, generate solutions ideas, and bring their ideas to life with rapid prototyping, as well as provided one-on-one coaching to refine concepts and pitches.
Improving collaboration and communication between community health actors in Guinea
Client: ThinkPlace, Breakthrough ACTION | Year: 2019
ThinkPlace, member of USAID-funded consortium Breakthrough ACTION, was tasked to help improve collaboration and communication between community health actors in Guinea, by using human-centered design as the process to inform the collaboration strategy design and delivery. As design consultant, I helped design and co-facilitate participatory research and design workshops with health care providers, community relays, and representatives of the health system at the prefectural level, and provided recommendations for the engagement moving forward. One of the facilitation decisions that we made during the workshops was to minimize jargon and rely more on visual metaphors to facilitate understanding with an audience with wildly varying levels of literacy and fluency in French.
Assessing a microfinance institution’s product offerings and customer experience in Haiti
Client: GRID Impact, Fonkoze | Year: 2019
GRID Impact was commissioned by Sèvis Finansye Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance institution, to assess its existing customer experience as well as product and service offerings. As lead designer, I helped: plan for in-field design research, including the participant recruiting and sampling protocols and data collection tools; conduct a desk review to look into Fonkoze’s existing marketing materials, product sheets, and other internal documents; conduct in-field research and debrief sessions; and facilitate workshops with the Fonkoze team to align on the research scope and present high level synthesis findings. The final output, a Product and Customer Experience Assessment Report, outlined the main findings from the research, presented opportunity areas and potential solution concepts, along with inspiration from other contexts to help guide Fonkoze’s work moving forward. I have written a blog post discussing the importance of compensating design research participants, using this project as a case study.
Guiding NGOs in evaluating their communications with refugee communities in Jordan
Client: International Rescue Committee | Year: 2019
In December 2018, a design research study to understand how refugees in Jordan currently access information and the existing humanitarian channels for Communication with Communities (CwC) was conducted by the International Rescue Committee and the UNHCR. Key findings from this study suggested that there are significant discrepancies between organizations’ perceptions of which channels are most effective, and how refugees access and use these channels. These differences result in major gaps in the information ecosystem, and have led the refugee population feeling left alone in finding information through informal channels, translating into an environment where uncertainty, mistrust, and rumors abound. As design consultant, I designed a user-friendly monitoring and evaluation (M&E) guide for local NGOs in Jordan to self-assess their CwC efforts, based on the three archetypes of refugees accessing information highlighted in the study, as well as four main principles to guide their information delivery activities: specificity (how relevant the information is to their problem), timeliness (how quickly they can get the information), simplicity (how simple is it to understand) and expertise (coming from a verified/trusted source).
Researching the sesame ecosystem in Myanmar
Client: Studio D Radiodurans, Proximity Designs | Year: 2019
Proximity Designs teamed up with Studio D Radiodurans to dive into one of Myanmar’s most important crops: sesame. Despite the fact that sesame is the second largest staple crop grown in Myanmar, both in terms of acreage and its estimated 500,000 farmers, there was a dearth of data on sesame in Myanmar, with official government figures only counting around 12 percent of exports. As senior researcher on the team, I helped conduct foundational research examining the lives of smallholder farmers, processors, distributors, and exporters of sesame. To learn more, check out this behind-the-scenes account of our design research process in the field, my thoughts on working in a large field research team, or download a PDF version of the resulting publication I co-authored, When It Rains, It Pours, here.
Redesigning tools, processes, and trainings for Healing Classroom education in Lebanon
Client: International Rescue Committee | Year: 2018 - 2019
The Syrian conflict and ensuing instability in the region has caused the displacement of 1.5 million Syrians into Lebanon. In response to this crisis, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been implementing its Healing Classrooms approach to create safe, supportive, predictable, and cooperative learning environments for refugees, and to teach components of reading, math, and social emotional learning by applying positive instructional and classroom management techniques. The IRC Education program in Lebanon has existing programmatic and data collection tools, processes, and trainings to support their work, including resources for classroom observation, social and emotional learning, and teacher professional development. As a design consultant, I conducted evaluative research to re-design these processes and improve their usability for IRC teachers and field staff. To share interim findings for this project, I was invited to lead a workshop using human-centered design for the 3EA Education in Emergencies: Evidence for Action consortium in Istanbul.
Training young activists from Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia on project mindsets
Client: Open Society Foundations | Year: 2018
Open Society Foundations selected a cohort of Community Youth Fellows to implement a project of their own design, focusing on health rights at the intersection of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) and Roma communities, including the multiple layers and forms of discrimination this group faces in healthcare settings. As part of the initial orientation organized for this cohort, I co-facilitated a hands-on training about important design-inspired mindsets and principles, from navigating ambiguity and using experimentation, to seeking collaboration, to keep in mind as the fellows developed their work and projects.
Exploring behavioral factors to improving job placement and retention in Jordan
Client: International Rescue Committee | Year: 2018
The International Rescue Committee’s Airbel Impact Lab launched Project Match, an initiative that aims to generate at-scale employment opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian refugees, in Jordan. Project Match houses a series of data-driven, experimental interventions that seek to algorithmically match job seekers and firms. As a design consultant, I worked to create data collection tools, as well as oversee and synthesize design research to identify pain points in the job search process for job-seekers (including a set of user journeys and profiles), and in the recruitment process for employers, around which Project Match’s approach and comparative advantage were built. Additionally, I designed and prototyped a variety of behavioral interventions, including social proof testimonials, as well as tools and guides for job search planning, interview preparation, and understanding on-the-job expectations, that were included as part of the different interventions to be tested through a randomized controlled trial (RCT).
EasyPack: Redesigning the Humanitarian Data Toolkit
Client: Internews | Year: 2013
EasyPack is an intuitive and easy-to-implement organizing solution for the Internews Humanitarian Data Toolkit (HDT). My team conducted interviews with Internews staff and partners who piloted the HDT in Dadaab, Kenya, then built and tested a series of prototypes, taking into consideration the different cultural contexts and needs of users of varying levels of technical knowledge. The final prototype was deemed the winner of Design Thinking DC‘s 2013 Summer of Design. To learn more, browse the showcase poster and final presentation describing the EasyPack design, or read the three-part blog post series from our challenge sponsor (part 1, part 2, part 3).
Embracing Informality: Designing Financial Services for China’s Marginalized
Client: Institute of Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion | Year: 2012
Our team conducted a study to explore and share a deep understanding of the daily lives of China’s rural villagers, migrant workers, and ethnic minorities, and their use of informal financial services. As co-author, my particular focus was to build the case for a new remittance service that meets the untapped financial needs of migrant workers, while remaining feasible in China’s existing legal and business environment. To learn more, you can read the case study or see my blog post titled "Bridging the Urban-Rural Corridor in China."
Reaching Survivors of Human Trafficking in NYC
Client: Safe Horizon | Year: 2012
Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program provides services to survivors of labor and sex trafficking. Our team explored how best to reach potential victims, who are often difficult to contact and may be hesitant to seek help. My role was to help conduct ethnographic research (in English and Spanish) and to develop prototypes in support of a new outreach strategy, focused on leveraging check cashing shops. Looking back, this project is an example of an engagement where the team, myself included, was not equipped to deal with the trauma that was bound to surface from our interviews, and nor were we trained to conduct research in a healing centered way. I talked about this, and more, in my presentation on "Lessening the Research Burden on Vulnerable Communities" at the Advancing Research Conference.