Education (Degree)
Rhode Island School Of Design
Providence, RI, USA  |  2010 - 2014
Honors, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design
Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs
New York, NY, USA  |  2018 - 2020
Master of Public Administration  

Education (Non-Degree)
Brown University
Providence, RI, USA  |  2011 - 2013
Liberal Arts Courses

West African Writers & the Political Kingdom
The Entrepreneurial Process
Burden of Disease in Developing Countries 
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C., USA  |  Fall Semester 2012
International Relations Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA, USA  |  2014
Product Design and Development Studio


Jury Member of RadiAid Awards, 2016
Invited to be 1 of 4 jury members to judge the best and worst in development aid campaign videos, with the objective of “changing the way fundraising campaigns communicate and engage people in issues of poverty and development." (Hosted by the Norwegian Students’ and Academics International Assistance Fund in Oslo, Norway)
Speaker at Better World by Design, 2016
Invited to give a one-hour lecture on “Why Designers Need To Run For Congress” at the 2016 conference, to a full lecture hall of approximately 60 attendees.
Media: Core 77 “Why Design Matters In The Context of Government and Law”                 

Guest Lecturer at MIT Integrated Design Management Master's Program, 2016
Invited to give a 90-minute lecture on social design to a graduate class of 19 students in the Integrated Design and Managament Master’s program

Student Speaker at RISD Commencement Ceremony, 2014
1 of 2 student speakers (undergraduate and graduate) selected to speak at commencement ceremony

Robert O'Neal Award, 2014
Awarded by RISD Industrial Design Department to one student

RISD Artist Ball Best Individual Costume, 2014
1 of 1 student selected as Best Individual for her hand-made Shin Ramyun & chopsticks costume

Rhode Island Business Plan Competition Semi-Finalist, 2014
1 of 6 student semi-finalists chosen to advance to next round of competition for funding

Student Speaker at Board of Trustees Meetings, 2013
1 of 2 students invited by Trustee Dryfoos and RISD Provost to speak on vision for the future of RISD in 2050

Panelist at A Better World by Design, 2013
Invited to speak on panel “Designing New Narratives” at the 2013 conference

United States Agency For International Development (USAID)
Communications Advisor | Washington, D.C. | Jan 2015 - present

Background: Within USAID’s Office of Local Sustainability, worked on communications and program development for a new Congressionally-mandated development program called localworks. Budgeted at $45 million a year, localworks is about investing in the creativity and resourcefulness of local communities and enabling them to drive development. The program competitively selects 3-4 USAID missions annually. 
—Co-facilitated intensive systems thinking workshops with senior program analyst for newly selected missions in Macedonia, Philippines, and Benin 
—Spearheaded development of 2015 and 2016 localworks policy guidance, which communicated goals, principles, implementation guidance, and application procedures for 60+ USAID missions worldwide 
—Led user-feedback efforts during the development of the policy guidance to ensure clarity and accessibility (Conducted 9 rounds of feedback with responses from 30+ people, including USAID Foreign Service Officers, Foreign Service Nationals, USAID/Washington staff, office directors, and NGO leaders)
—Led the effort to translate and rewrite policy language in draft communications, including Congressional reports, program guidance, transition team one-pagers, to plain language
—Led the effort to document lessons learned from the 4 localworks missions selected in FY 2016 in coordination with mission communications and program staff, increasing Washington and field engagement by 50%
—Designated by the Team Leader to design and deliver workshops on listening methods and engagement strategies for a team of 12, in preparation for field visits to mission host countries (Vietnam, Malawi, Morocco, Serbia)
—Selected by Team Leader to lead and facilitate team discussions on short term and long term vision of localworks, enhancing team-wide understanding of program’s direction 
—Took leading role in planning the first co-creation workshop for localworks, with 60+ attendees and 19 non-profit organizations represented

Chief Design Officer | San Francisco, CA |  July - October 2014
—Designed and led the development of a crowdfunded journalism platform with a team of developers, designers, and founding members
—Completed minimum viable prototype (MVP) from idea to execution in three months for successful seed investment of $1 million 

STEAM Maharam Fellowship
Lead Researcher & Designer | Kampala, Uganda | Jun - Aug 2013

—1 of 10 students awarded a $5000 grant to fund self-proposed research project centered on the intersection of design and public policy 
—Designed and led an ethnographic research project in 3 cities across central and eastern Uganda with the objective of understanding local perspectives of international development and donors from local actors of an aid recipient country
—Interviewed 150+ people across 12 local NGOs, 4 slums, and 3 schools
—Produced framework delineating methods of engagement and open-ended listening in the field, utilized by universities and development professionals

RISD Global Initiative
Founder & President | Providence, RI, USA | Jan 2013 - May 2014

Background: Founded RISD’s first student-run organization dedicated to creating a culture of global awareness and action among art and design students

—Established sustainable relationships with the Board of Trustees, President, Provost, and faculty to advocate for greater integration of global issues to the RISD curriculum, with continued representation at Board of Trustees meetings and endorsement of President Somerson with current leadership
—Managed task teams to assemble and disassemble as needed for specific projects (instead of year-round teams), ensuring more stable and accountable working units
—Organized city-wide international food and culture fair in partnership with RISD Dining and Office of International Student Services, showcasing diverse student body of RISD of more than 50 countries represented (600+ attendees in inaugural year, currently in its 4th year with over 1200 attendees)
—Developed and implemented “GI Chats”, a sub-branch of the organization that sponsors student-led chats on various social, political, economic, and environmental issues of interest 
Enabled discourse and engagement in such issues accessible to art and design students 22 GI Chats held to date
—Established “GI Responds”, another sub-branch of the organization that monitors world events and coordinates responses to them as a united student body

Other Experience: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ashoka, A Better World by Design, freelance design for various social enterprises

Microsoft Office, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Muse, SolidWorks, basic HTML & CSS

Lathe, Band saw, Scroll Saw, Table Saw, Hand Tools

User research, information architecture, copywriting, concept development, event programming, presentation creation & delivery, project management, DIY diplomacy

English (Fluent), Korean (Fluent), French (Intermediate)

Just for Fun

Soccer (Right/Left Winger), Swimming (Butterfly Stroke Specialist), Piano, Clarinet, Gown-making

Thomas Carter
U.S. Agency for International Development
thcarter [at]   
Leslie Fontana
Rhode Island School of Design
lfontana [at]   
Matthew Kressy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
mkressy [at]   
Back to Top