Cheryl Heller joins ASU as director of design integration

April 3, 2019

Designer, inspirational author and trailblazer Cheryl Heller will create more new pathways in the next chapter of her career. Heller joins Arizona State University as the director of design integration, a joint position between the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Heller will serve as professor of practice in innovation design and also lead the growth and scale of ASU’s Innovation Space in The Design School.

“The director of design integration at ASU is a new role, one that could only be filled by a truly exceptional innovator,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “We’re delighted that Cheryl Heller is joining us to serve as ASU’s leader in design thinking and process integration, pioneering new strategies for integrating transdisciplinary education and the design process into curricula across the university — and connecting the work to real world issues through funded projects.” Headshot of Cheryl Heller, designer and author who joins ASU as director of design integration. Designer and author Cheryl Heller, founder of the first MFA program in social design at the School of Visual Arts in New York, will serve as ASU's director of design integration.

Heller will head the Master of Science in Innovation and Venture Development program, integrating learning from business, engineering and design in a transdisciplinary, experience-based learning program that prepares leaders with the mindset, skill sets and practice needed to launch successful ventures in any industry or sector, inside existing organizations or as new entities. Graduates will acquire both the expert and soft skills needed to think across complex systems, lead multidisciplinary teams, identify needs, evaluate opportunities and create and launch scalable business models that provide value to all stakeholders in a world of growing uncertainty and ambiguity.

Before joining ASU, Heller founded the first MFA program in social design at the School of Visual Arts in New York, a cohort-based experiential learning program that teaches students to use the design process to address the complex social and environmental challenges facing humanity. Graduates of the program are leading change and innovation in federal and city government, industry, health care and the social sector, including at Google, Microsoft, Arup, the Peterson Health Institute, the Arnhold Institute for Public Health at Mt. Sinai, RGA Associates, Dalberg and UNICEF.

Her latest book, “The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Creative Potential of Social Design,” asks the question: Can human beings design their way out of the mess that industrial civilization has made of the world?

As someone who believes that the design process is a powerful tool that increases agency and new possibilities for all who practice it, Heller thinks design should be available to everyone and was drawn to ASU because of President Michael Crow’s reputation as an innovator in the field of education.

Heller developed a research project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to investigate the contribution design can make to human health. Additionally, she is working on a national project to diminish the flow of young people from foster care to homelessness, and helping the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus revitalize their city through the development of an innovation district there.

Heller has deep experience in the corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit worlds, often leading multisector collaborations. She is a recipient of the prestigious AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement for her contributions to the field of design and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellow. She is the former board chair of PopTech and a senior fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $14 million to designers working for the public good, and partnered with Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to create the exhibition “Design for the Other 90%.” She is currently working on her PhD in social design at RMIT University in Melbourne.

“People talk about design as problem-solving,” Heller said. “But that’s a limited view. The most exciting aspect of design is its capacity for creating conditions that have never existed before. We need that now. We need to create new ways of being on this planet, and with each other. Design is the process for accomplishing that.”

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


The College to host Freedom Day panel exploring Nelson Mandela's legacy

April 4, 2019

On April 27, 1994, just four years after spending nearly three decades in prison, Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s new leader in the first all-racial democratic election in its history.

In the wake of almost 40 years of state-sanctioned apartheid by the country’s white ruling class, the election was a critical turning point that is honored in the annual celebration and national holiday, Freedom Day. Vada Manager, an alumnus of The College and ASU Hall of Fame inductee, will speak about his time in South Africa as a consultant to Mandela's newly-formed cabinet at The College's panel in April. Vada Manager, an alumnus of The College and ASU Hall of Fame inductee, will speak about his time in South Africa as a consultant to Mandela's newly-formed cabinet at The College's panel in April. Photo courtesy of Vada Manager Download Full Image

Mandela’s victory marked a new beginning for South Africa and ignited human rights causes all over the world. On the ground, the new president was facing the unprecedented responsibility of holding the reins of the first multiethnic cabinet the country had ever seen and seeking to unify what many saw as an irreversibly divided population.

Twenty-five years later, those efforts are globally recognized. But Vada Manager, an Arizona State University alumnus, saw them in real time at the helm of an international development team charged with helping the fledgling government take form.

“Many younger students and faculty see the election of President Barack Obama as the most consequential of their time,” said Manager, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1983. “But Mandela's release from Robben Island prison and his transformative election arguably had an even farther-reaching global impact in a pre-social media age.”

This month, Manager will discuss his work and the election at large during a panel at Arizona State University titled: “ASU, Mandela and the Dawn of a New Democracy: South Africa Then and Now.”

He will be joined by Thato Seerane, a South African student in her final year in The College’s Department of Psychology, and Norris Barker, an Arizona-based entrepreneur who witnessed Mandela’s campaign while living in the country in the 1990s.

Organized by The College, the event celebrates Mandela’s legacy and his profound effect on South African generations, even years after his death in 2013.

Seerane, who grew up in Johannesburg, came to ASU in 2015 through the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, a $500 million, 10-year initiative empowering African youth leaders to spur change in their communities by participating in educational opportunities abroad. ASU was selected as a higher education partner to the international program in 2012.

Set to graduate this spring, she plans to one day return to South Africa to improve reading comprehension in low-income communities and support victims of sexual assault with psychological counseling.

The three figures will bring their unique perspectives to the table to examine how the election reshaped South Africa and continues to inform today's most pressing social issues in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

On display will be historic memorabilia including official election ballots; a trademark, African-style tunic worn by Mandela and a copy of Newsweek signed by the South African president upon his release from Robben Island prison in 1990.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 18, on the Tempe campus at Armstrong Hall. Refreshments will be served following the panel. The event is free and open to the public.

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences