Our Team

Faculty Founder & Staff

Dr. Elizabeth Gerber → As a professor in the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University, Liz’s mission is to use design to build people’s confidence and motivate innovation. As an expert in creativity & innovation & the founding faculty member of DFA, she is doing exactly that. Liz received a BA from Dartmouth College & completed her doctoral degree & master’s degree in Product Design at Stanford University. Prior to DFA, Liz taught business & design at Stanford’s d.school & worked in the toy industry. Learn more about Professor Gerber here.
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Stacy Klingbeil, Field Coordinator → Stacy works at the intersection of creative problem-solving, social enterprise and service design. This blended perfectly when Stacy mentored a DFA project team while she was pursuing her Master’s in Engineering Design and Innovation from Northwestern in 2013. She began as a DFA Fellow in 2014 and is now excited to deliver DFA’s programs and services to best serve DFA’s stakeholders to create local, social impact.
Rob Calvey, Instructional Coordinator → Rob is excited to bring design and leadership education to DFA members across the country as they use design to make an impact locally and nationally. Rob studied architecture and co-founded the DFA Virginia Tech studio in 2012. Since working at DFA in 2013, Rob has supported curriculum and program development, including the DFA Process Guide, design workshops, presentations and member mentorship.

2015 Fellows

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Allison Chen → Allison seeks to design for learning and play to help us better understand each other and the world around us. As a Design for America Fellow she works with student leaders in human-centered design across the country to tackle local and social issues. While studying Industrial Design at RISD she co-led the DFA RISD/Brown studio, worked on STEAM learning tools, and helped build a solar-powered house. Children are her favorite users, and she enjoys designing for the inner child in us all.
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Catherine Chung → Known as “CC” among her DFA peers, Catherine aims to use human centered design to aid underprivileged communities by finding and implementing sustainable solutions. As a Design for America Fellow, she seeks to be an empathetic supporter to help studios achieve their potential to become change makers in their own way. Graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Social Policy and a minor in International Studies, she believes that innovative work comes through interdisciplinary collaboration and active patience.

2014 Fellows

Brandon Rivera-Melo → Brandon’s mission is to improve people’s health with human-centered design. During his undergraduate career, Brandon began growing the Northwestern DFA Studio in January of 2011 in the roles of project team member, team lead, task force lead, and studio lead. Project work electrifies Brandon’s passion for design, and he is thrilled to bring this energy to mentoring project teams. He plans to use his majors in Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and certificates in Design and Entrepreneurship to innovate healthcare technology.
Sarah Kurland → After graduating from Cornell with a degree in Policy Analysis and Management, Sarah feels ready to immerse herself in the DFA world as a local fellow at Cornell. As someone who discovered design and design thinking quite late in the game, she has grown to understand the real power of the human-centered design process and its necessity in all realms of education, business and policy. She is inspired by the idea of making design and innovation accessible and effective as a tool for people from any background in any profession of any age who want to change the world. She is passionate about positive psychology, behavioral economics, sustainability and music and is constantly thinking of ways these can all be combined.
Julian Bongiorno → Graduating from Columbia in 2013, Julian comes to DFA with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an explosive passion for innovation. As a DFA Fellow, Julian hopes to unite the various studios by inspiring and producing life-changing projects that improve communities. His passions have led to a career in social entrepreneurship with a passion for working beyond his comfort zone. The soccer field taught him well in the ways of team dynamics and leadership while his numerous projects have developed his technical skills. He raised over $5.5k for cancer research by donating his hair via his personal website, JulianGetsAHaircut.com.

2013 Fellows

Giselle Malina → Giselle recently graduated from Cornell University where she majored in Psychology. As a pre-med, Giselle spent every summer volunteering around the world where she learnt the importance of intercultural and interdisciplinary work, something she now strives to apply in every facet of her life. Excited to make an impact in cities at home and abroad, Giselle hopes to use her work as a DFA fellow to help other students find the same passion and excitement for human-centered design that has fueled and informed her projects for the last four years. Ultimately, she hopes to see thousands of students representing all majors and backgrounds, using design to better their lives and communities.

2012 Fellows

Thea Klein-Mayer → When she joined DFA in 2009 as a student, Thea found a wonderful combination of most everything she loves- art, science, wonderful people, and meaningful action. Over the past 3 years, she’s filled a wide variety of roles from student coach to team cheerleader to studio lead, all experiences that she will draw upon to aid the success of today’s DFAers and their insightful solutions. She will never pass up brainstorming, adventuring, and nerding out about design, food, or nature. She continues to do these things tirelessly.
Kayla Matheus → As a DFA Fellow, Kayla inspired and guided young innovators across the country. A graduate from Yale University in both art and mechanical engineering, she is passionate about the merger of the creative and technical, the abstract and concrete, the emotional and logical. She is no stranger to such dichotomies – growing up half-Puerto Rican taught her the value of understanding multiple points of view. Ultimately, she believes that design has the potential to touch lives in direct and meaningful ways and was excited to do so through her work at DFA.
Daniel Rees Lewis, → With a Masters in the Learning Sciences from Northwestern University, Daniel marries his interests in organizations and how individual’s everyday actions affect their learning and performance, with a focus in designing artifacts that help people learn. He has 6 years experience in designing and delivering adult education, including communication skills, intercultural communication, Design, and English as a foreign language.








Hannah Chung, → As a DFA co-founder and advisor, Hannah is a doodler, tinkerer, and a creative problemsolver. Living both in US and South Korea, Hannah loves meeting new people and learning different cultures. Sheis passionate in building confidence in people through design, and in exploring different communication methods to show the bigger picture and inspire others.







Aaron Horowitz → Aaron is a maker; from sculptures to business,he is fascinated with the process of taking an idea from concept to reality. In his time at Northwestern, he has cultivated a curiosity for the way in which we interact with our surroundings,fueling his passion in design and driving a desire to take a deep dive into the problems which face our world.







Jeanne Marie Olson → Jeanne is a consultant, researcher and designer who has worked for 20+ years at the crossroads of design thinking, learning strategy, and organizational systems change for global corporations and local not-for-profits. She is a faculty member of the graduate program in Learning & Organizational Change in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern, and is a lecturer for the Segal Design Institute.







Paul Gudonis → As the president of Myomo, Paul brings 25 years of leadership experience in the information technology and communications industries, as well as a consistent commitment to improving the impact of technology and education in our society.  Launched the country’s first cell phone company at Ameritech Mobile; Chairman and CEO of Genuity, Inc., President and CEO of Centra Software, Inc. Expertise: pioneer inwireless, internet, and eLearning software and services.








Dr. Bruce Ankenman → As the Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Segal Design Institute Bruce is the institutional liason between DFA and Northwestern. He has recently been working on design of simulation experiments for discrete event simulation models. He is primarily interested in statistical tools of experimental design and analysis such as factorial and fractional factorial experiments, response surface methodology, and model building.







Julio M. Ottino → Professor Ottino is the dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University where he holds the titles of Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Born in Argentina, he had a career as an artist before he moved to the U.S. for his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.







Matt Easterday → Dr. Easterday is is an assistant professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He received his PhD in 2010 from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Easterday’s research focuses on technology for the new civics – producing scientifically supported educational technology to create informed and engaged citizens who can solve the serious policy problems facing our society.







Yuri Frank Maxwell Malina → As a DFA Co-founder, Yuri is many things, a rocket scientist, plant biologist, design activist, but most of all, he is an eternal optimist. Born in France, educated in the United States, Yuri has spent his life exposed to different European and American peoples and cultures, and as a result truly feels part of one human family. Through Design for America, and his many projects Yuri’s passion is taking on the greatest challenges facing our species.








Mert Hilmi Iseri → As a DFA Co-founder, Mert is a young turk of design. He is fascinated by life and is absolutely stoked to improve it on our pale blue dot. His journey started off in Istanbul as a young idealist and changed courses completely once he arrived at Northwestern. Now, he is excited to embrace design and entrepreneurship to galvanize a generation into positive change.

Coaches and Mentors

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