It may be fashionable today, but in 2011 it was rare to talk of designers as agents of social change. It was even rarer to affix the label to user experience designers, judging by pushback from designers themselves when the first event was announced.

While elements of the field had been practiced for decades, UX design was just beginning to become essential in business – primarily by helping companies engage customers online. UX designers did not yet see themselves as guides through complex human systems, the very role that could make them invaluable in social change.

Could UX designers extend their reach?


The first annual event was developed to allow as many designers as possible to tackle social challenges. In subsequent years, only a dozen designers were invited to take on a single problem; in 2011, 55 designers were invited to take on five: unemployment, community mental health, public education, urban violence and cross-cultural understanding.

Designers worked with experts in those fields over two days, designing social interventions that were judged in competition by the designers themselves. The value proved not to be the submissions – only one of the five was in any way adopted by a partner organization – but the new regard experts had for UX design and the new perspective designers had on their craft.


Insight Labs
Adler School of Professional Psychology
The Third Teacher
Ceasefire Chicago
Global Lives Project


  • Luiz Andrade – User Experience Design Manager, Underwriters Laboratories
  • Joshua Barr – Principal User Experience Architect, TandemSeven
  • Mekayla Beaver – Design Research & Strategy, Gloworm
  • Kristin Berggren – Associate Creative Director, Experience Design, SapientNitro
  • Jennifer Berzansky – Associate Experience Director, Manifest Digital
  • Nina Bieliauskas – Lead Senior User Experience Architect, Sears
  • Jason Bowman – User Experience Lead, Groupon
  • Nicholas Brethauer – Creative Director, Mandi Communications
  • Jennifer Canady – User Experience Specialist, Centrails
  • Carolyn Chandler – UX Director, Manifest Digital
  • Vena Chitturi – UX Architect, Manifest Digital
  • Chris Courtney – Mobile Project Manager, Tribune Media Group
  • Michael Dain – Director of User Experience, ARC Worldwide/Leo Burnett
  • Eldridge Doubleday – User Experience Architect, Sears
  • Haley Ebeling – Sr. User Experience Architect, Manifest Digital
  • Brynn Evans – CXO, GoLocal
  • David Everly – Senior Designer, Manifest Digital
  • Mark FelcanSmith – Manager of User Experience, Sears
  • Claire Goff – Senior Interaction Designer, IDEO
  • Riley Graham – Interaction Designer, Wolters Kluwer
  • Will Hacker – User Experience Architect,
  • Jim Hall – User Experience Architect, Allstate Financial
  • Maggie Hendrie – Strategy Director, Manifest Digital
  • Brian Henkel – Sr. User Experience Architect, Manifest Digital
  • Halley Hopkins – Co-Founder & Creative Director, Collective Context
  • Christopher Ina – User Experience Architect, Manifest Digital
  • John Jarosz – Freelance Information Architect
  • Danyell Jones – User Experience Architect, Manifest Digital
  • Joseph Juhnke – President & CEO, Tanagram
  • Phillip Keiken – Consultant, Manifest Digital
  • Makoto Kern – UX Consultant, Manifest Digital
  • David Lawrence – Creative Director, SapientNitro
  • Daniel Leu – Senior Designer, Manifest Digital
  • Stephen Lund – Consultant, Digital Primates
  • Brian Maggi – President, Idea Momentum
  • Sarah Malin – Design Researcher, The Third Teacher
  • Laurel McDowall – Director, Context Strategy, Translation
  • Kevin Mech – Creative Director, KeyLimeTie
  • Gene Moy – User Experience Lead, AXIOM Sensis, Siemens Healthcare
  • Sami Nerenberg – Program Administrator, Design for America
  • Chiara Ogan – Experience Designer, Adaptive Path
  • Meredith Payne – User Experience Architect, Manifest Digital
  • Cia Romano – Founder, Interface Guru
  • Chad Rupp – Senior User Interface Designer, OfficeMax
  • Carrie Sawyer – User Research Manager,
  • Tanarra Schneider – Senior UX Architect, Manifest Digital
  • David Scotney – Creative Director, Reach
  • Victor Short – UX Strategist, Allstate Insurance
  • Pete Simon – Principal User Experience Architect, Digital Innovation Group, Sears
  • Brandy Taylor – Associate Creative Director, Manifest Digital
  • Marnie  Vosper – Creative Lead, Manifest Digital
  • Phillip Weber – UX Designer, NAVTEQ
  • Bill Welense – UX Architect, Manifest Digital
  • Chelsea Winkel – Superhero, Problem Solved
  • Brian Winters – Senior UX Architect, Manifest Digital


  • Jeff Leitner – Dean, The Insight Labs
  • Jason Ulaszek – Director of User Experience, Manifest Digital


  • Brandy Agerbeck – Graphic Facilitator, Loosetooth
  • Sarah Beckley – Senior Content Strategist, Manifest Digital
  • Blake Beckstrom – Senior Video Producer, closerlook
  • Rachael Belanger – Student, University of Chicago
  • Andrew Benedict-Nelson – Digital Agitator, Insight Labs
  • Ryan Butts – Deputy Director, League of Chicago Theaters
  • Bryan Campen – Social Media Director, Manifest Digital
  • Ed Chen – Student, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Tim Courtney – Director, Marketing and Brand Strategy, KeyLimeTie
  • Kevin Coval – Poet/Artistic Director, Young Chicago Authors
  • Bruce Crane – Board Member, StreetWise
  • Raymond Crossman – President, Adler School of Professional Psychology
  • Sherly Daceus – Student, Adler School of Professional Psychology
  • Michael Davis – Founder of The DAVIS Experience
  • Justin Edwards – Editor/Motion Graphic Design, Manifest Digital
  • Genevieve Elliott – Project Manager, closerlook
  • LaMont Evans – Violence Interrupter, CeaseFire
  • Carlo Garcia – Client Services Rep & Microphilanthropist,
  • Mark Guarino – Playwright and Journalist
  • David Evan Harris – Executive Director, Global Lives Project
  • Al Herbach – CEO, Schmaltz Online
  • Jim Jacoby – CXO & Founder, Manifest Digital
  • Steve Johnson – Student, DePaul University
  • Sravan Kachavarapu – Graduate Student, DePaul University
  • Frank Karigiannis – Finance Manager, Pauly Honda
  • Katy Klassman – Owner, The Curated Group
  • Trung Le – Principal, Cannon Design
  • Jim LoBianco – Executive Director, StreetWise
  • Meagan Lopez – Social Media Director, midVentures
  • PJ Loughran – Chief Creative Officer, Manifest Digital
  • Mari Luangrath – Owner, Foiled Cupcakes
  • Ryan Malham – Student, University of Arizona
  • Howell Malham – Director, Brand Strategy, Manifest Digital
  • Stephanie Pace Marshall – Founding President/President Emerita, Illinois Math & Science Academy
  • Bruce Mau – Co-Founder of Bruce Mau Live
  • Joanne Merkle – Systems Supervisor, Potash Corporation
  • Mitzi Norton – Director to the Office of the President, Adler School of Professional Psychology
  • Chris  Pautsch – CEO, KeyLimeTie
  • Hope Popa, Adler School of Professional Psychology
  • Miska Prater – Assistant to the Office of the President, Adler School of Professional Psychology
  • Tom Riley – Principal, closerlook
  • Eralee Rivera – Human-Computer Interaction Graduate Assistant, DePaul University
  • Shweta Sharma – Co-Founder, Vidya Grants
  • Doug Siefken – CTO, TransLumen Technologies
  • Gary Slutkin – Founder and Executive Director, CeaseFire
  • Andy Stephens – Owner & Head Personal Trainer, Over the Top Trainer
  • Dr. Tae – Skateboarding Physics Professor At-Large
  • Andie Thomalla – Graduate Assistant, Education Policy Studies, DePaul University
  • John Timmerman – Director of Photography, Corporate and Broadcast Production
  • Mark Trendell – Independent Sound Recordist
  • Katherine Vajda – Independent Interactive Designer & Writer
  • Alison Wagner – Content Strategist, Manifest Digital



Manifest Digital
Adler School
Food for Thought
Cannon Design
Pierce Family Foundation
Lunch In
The Soma Institute
Two Brothers