Design leadership with heart & mind.

For the past 23 years, I’ve built and scaled design teams, clarifying purpose across disciplines and creating value for all. As a systems thinker, I maintain a unified, integrated approach to business – inclusive of brand, product, marketing, engineering, and culture. I design the contexts and conditions to nurture individual and team success. 

With an entrepreneur’s mindset, I always ask why to find better ways. I’m an educator, networker, relationship manager, community organizer, and optimist. I enjoy learning about people and their story.

My work has been covered in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Recode, The Boston Globe, Print,, and more.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing business with startups and Fortune 500 international corporations, cities and national non-profits, artists and community orgs. For 20 years, I ran Schwadesign, a holocratic network of independent experts, where I curated custom teams of 2 to 25 to meet individual client needs. Here’s a selected client list.

Currently, I’m in Design Operations as Twitter’s producer in Product, where I think and act cross-functionally – transforming weekly critiques for 65 global designers, augmenting our design process, providing education and inspiration, producing our blog, and ushering in a new set of design principles for the global team. This work is social, strategic, and situational. It’s an awesome, diverse, talented team, and there’s plenty to do. Meanwhile:

  • I was General Assembly’s first Visual Design Fellow, and have taught there and at Creative Live. I’m always always interested in guest lectures and critiques
  • I consult with founders and nascent startup teams – yours or mine –  on content and overall business strategy, marketing and pitch decks, interface and brand work, coaching and building teams via Startnership
  • I co-produce events with SF Design Systems Coalition
  • I’ve been a professional member of AIGA since 1994, and enjoy networking and producing events with my local chapter, as well as cross-pollinating design and entrepreneurship communities with StartOut 
  • I’m writing my first book, about patterns in teams

I’m based in San Francisco, a beautiful place to walk, bike, and eat avocados. I spend my free time cooking, cycling, camping, hiking, and exploring places I might build a house I designed.

You can reach me by email and my DMs on Twitter are open. 

Photo by Nick Aitken