Update: These interviews were done in advance of the COVID ’19 pandemic. Brian LeDuc and Grace Rieger’s innovative community work around changing academia and career development may take on more urgency in light of all the adaptations we are all having to take. We are excited to see what insight and approaches our new Designers in Residence take to the problems that now lie before us.
In 2019, Grace Reiger and Brian LeDuc uprooted from Washington, DC and set out across the country together for San Diego. They brought them with a wealth of knowledge in community building around design, education and career development. Driven with a mission to spearhead community design initiatives and active communities across San Diego they saw a huge opportunity in bridging their work in Washington, DC with the needs of the San Diego community around service and career design.
For some people driving change and building community is what they do. This is Brian and Grace. What they have been able to catalyze in such a short period of time is a testament to their drive to get things done and enrich their local communities. We couldn’t be happier to have them join us as Designers in Residence as they very much mirror the efforts of the Lab and our commitment to community impact.”
– Michele Morris, UC San Diego Design Lab Associate Director
Arriving in San Diego, Mr. LeDuc and Ms. Rieger realized San Diego had never had a “Service Jam”, an event surrounded by a global community they were intimately involved with and helped to foster in Washington DC. They immediately sought to change that.
We’ve participated in the Global Service Jam since 2015 as participants, coaches and Jam organizers. During our move we noticed that San Diego wasn’t on the global map for the Jam and we thought there was a real opportunity to share Service Design with the San Diego community,” said Grace Rieger.”
What is a Global Service Jam?
Service Jam is truly an annual labor of love, it’s high energy, connects you with amazing people and an opportunity to share Service Design,” says Reiger.”
An international event that takes place annually on the same weekend at over 100 cities across the world, Service Jam gets communities teaching and learning Service Design. It’s an immersive weekend, 48 hours to “Change the world” all spurred by a common theme which is announced on Friday evening of the event. The Service Jam is designed for those who are new to Service Design and practitioners that want to advance their craft or coach a team and help teach Service Design to others.
Watch the video below to get a better sense of how the Global Service Jam works.
In a matter of three months LeDuc and Reiger went from the initial concept and planning to execution of San Diego’s first Service Jam in partnership with the UC San Diego Design Lab and the Design Forward Alliance. While this year’s Service Jam was postponed due to COVID ’19, they are hard at work on new initiatives to continue this important work. For more information click HERE.
Joining Design Lab as Designers in Residence
Grace and Brian really exemplify what we strive for in the Design Lab. A community first approach to design – one built on identifying challenges and jointly coming up with tangible solutions with and for those in need of them. We are extremely lucky to have two Designers in Residence on board who embody those principles.”
– Michele Morris, Associate Director, Design Lab
Designers in Residence at Lab have always been an integral part of the Design Lab ecosystem. They are the practitioners who link the lab, its research and our community at UC San Diego with the outside world. Rather than solely being driven by academic achievement or research accolades, Design Lab’s Designers in Residence are selected based on the power of their community work and their innovative approaches as practitioners in bridging the divide between design, education and real world operation. To learn more about Brian and Grace, you can read their Q&A’s and watch their videos below.
Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work. My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.”
– Brian LeDuc, Designer in Residence
1. How did you start to engage with the San Diego community on Service Jam?
Last November, we contacted the President of Design Forward Alliance (DFA), a local design nonprofit organizing design activities in SD (led by an agency CEO) & pitched him on the Jam. He loved the idea and presented it for approval by DFA’s board and gave us a green light to plan when we arrived to SD in January 2019.
We were overwhelmed by the positive, supportive response from the community: leading experts and practitioners in design (including Don Norman) spoke at the event alongside an amazing cadre of volunteer team mentors and coaches to support teams through the design process. ~40 attendees and 15 volunteers made the first year for Service Jam a huge success!
2. Describe your background more in-depth.
I started my career in student affairs as a highly involved undergraduate in leadership programming, orientation, residence life, career services, student government, and campus programming both on campus and regionally, I gained professional experience supporting orientation programs as an intern and as a graduate hall director for several communities at Texas A&M where I received my masters degree in Educational Administration.
I started my career in student affairs running student leadership programs at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta, GA. I managed a program that paired KSU with another University elsewhere in the country to deliver leadership development based on the social change model, and focused on a locally relevant social issue to both communities.
Students would then visit both communities, connecting with relevant leaders for the social issue we were focused on: when we looked at homelessness in Atlanta and Los Angeles, we went to homeless encampments, shelters, met with congressional representatives, nonprofit, and community leaders to learn more about the current state of the issue in each community, and challenged students to consider what skills and knowledge they could leverage to make change in their community.
After teaching in the award-winning First Year Experience department alongside supporting the development, execution, and redesign of leadership programs, I left GA to pursue a role with EAB in Washington, DC. There, I served as lead client expert for advising and student success data analytics platform to Presidents, Provosts, and other senior academic leaders representing 11 Universities representing $1.2Mil+ in firm contracts, managing implementation and end-to-end relationship with universities. Supported initial on-boarding, technology platform configuration, opportunity assessment, user training and consulting to drive value and ensure contract renewal. I partnered with University leaders to identify and establish best practices for technology implementation resulting in firm-leading, nationally recognized, results.
Today, I use and teach human-centered design methods as the lead strategist, presenter, facilitator, executive relationship and project manager in human-centered design projects at the intersection of education and work at the Education Design Lab.
3. What inspires you moving forward in your career as you enter this next phase?
Given the incredible pace of change that we are experiencing, learning is more important than ever, and cultivating skill sets that make us more human (creativity, communication, critical thinking) is the toolkit for success in the future of work. My career is inspired by any opportunity that allows me to activate these skills in myself or assist in cultivating them in others.
4. You did Second City? Describe that and how that came about?
While I served at EAB, I was doing a lot of public speaking, presenting data analyses to senior leadership on campuses, as well as training academic advisors how to utilize insight from the advising tool I would help them implement on campus using 10 years of their universities’ historic data used to predict a students’ likelihood for success.
I’ve always loved watching improv and have been to see many shows, and thought about how the skills learned in improv might translate naturally into my work; learning how to feel comfortable and confident in dynamic environments to work alongside leaders in collaborative ways. I saw that Second City was not only headed into DC where I lived and used a tuition reimbursement from EAB to attend a workshop for a few days to learn the basics. I spent time with a few cast members who led exercises and learning about improv that ended up lending naturally to my public speaking, and eventually into my understanding and teaching of design tools and methods– we share quite a bit in mindset and approach with the improv world!
5. Describe volunteer work and/or other things you like to do in your spare time.
When I’m not supporting community-design initiatives, outside of my full-time work, you can probably find me playing guitar, golfing, running, doing yoga, or checking out a new IPA while exploring new sights (especially beaches) in San Diego. When I’m away, I’m probably visiting my family in north Texas, friends across the country, or leading high school leadership retreats for Kiwanis International’s Key Leader program!
It’s exciting to see how San Diego’s educational evolution is increasingly supporting workforce development and career changers. There is something for everyone and with how “small” San Diego is, there is an opportunity for stronger mentorship and partnership to help lift one another up within the community.”
– Grace Reiger, Designer in Residence