Design leadership with heart & mind.

For the past 22 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. Although I’m a fan of design thinking, I prefer design doing.

I’ve got an entrepreneur’s mindset to life and work, asking why, finding better ways. I’m an educator, networker, relationship manager, community organizer, and optimist. I enjoy learning about people through conversation – and a great 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-house as Twitter’s first Design Producer in Product, where I think and act cross-functionally – transforming weekly critiques for 60 designers globally, augmenting our design process, updating our tools, providing education and inspiration, creating a project leaderboard and case studies library, 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 of great work to do. Meanwhile:

  • I’m General Assembly’s first Visual Design Fellow, and currently teach there and at Creative Live. I’m always always interested in guest lecturing & critiquing
  • I consult with founders and nascent startup teams – yours or mine – on product design, content strategy and early messaging, marketing and pitch decks, 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 in the desert.

You can reach me by email or Twitter. Thanks for stopping by. 


Photo by Nick Aitken