Women of Design 2020

IxDA San Francisco
11 min readMar 9, 2020


For International Women’s Day, IxDA San Francisco celebrates a selection of outstanding woman in our field — established and emerging leaders from the Bay area and beyond.

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2020 IxDA-SF Women of Design

Thank you all for your contributions to our craft and profession, and the inspiration you bring to our community!

Giorgia Lupi (Information Designer — Partner at Pentagram)


Giorgia Lupi is an information designer whose work takes a humanistic approach to data. In her practice, she challenges the impersonality of data, designing engaging visual narratives that reconnect numbers to what they stand for stories, people, ideas.

She is a Partner at Pentagram in New York. After receiving her master’s degree in Architecture, she earned her PhD in Design at Politecnico di Milano. In 2011, she co-founded Accurat, an internationally acclaimed data-driven design firm with offices in Milan and New York.

She is co-author of Dear Data and Observe, Collect, Draw — A Visual Journal. Giorgia is also a public speaker, her TED TALK on her humanistic approach to data has over one million views. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

May-Li Khoe (independent: art, design, writing, co-founder of Scribble Together)


May-Li is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who combines invention with strategic cultural practices, bright colors, faces-on-things, and glitter. She most recently served as VP of Design at Khan Academy. While there, she co-founded a new R&D team and grew the design team into establishing User Research, Writing, Marketing and Communications, a new brand, a design system, and inclusive team processes. Before that, she invented new interfaces for emerging technologies at Apple across all of their platforms, including the first iPhone’s first web apps, Force Touch, the Taptic Engine, and more.

May-Li has over 20 years of experience working with organizations ranging from IBM, Microsoft, and the MIT MediaLab, to YBCA, Universal Music Group, and Oakland Museum of California. These days, you’ll find her working on a pixel-art based video game, advancing her collaborative whiteboard app called Scribble Together, coaching & mentoring, or enjoying her newfound love: writing. She also DJs, dances, and plots joyful ways to subvert the status quo.

Lisa Kay Solomon (Author and Designer in Residence, Stanford d.school)


“Vote by Design: Presidential Edition,” is Lisa Kay Solomon’s latest effort to ignite personal agency and collective possibility through design, exploring how design could help us become more proactive, informed and engaged voters in a democratic process that seems increasingly out of our control.

A bestselling author, educator, speaker, and change agent, Lisa has dedicated her career to making design a more accessible, learnable, and expansive set of everyday leadership practices. She has taught leadership and design at the California College of the Art’s MBA in Design strategy for many years, and was the founding Chair of Singularity University’s Transformational Practices effort. Lisa speaks about futures-centered design all over the world, and this past year she collaborated with LinkedIn Learning to launch their first “Leader as Futurist” class.

Currently a Designer in Residence at the Stanford d. school, Lisa focuses on bridging the disciplines of futures and design thinking, creating experiences like The Future’s Happening to help students learn and practice the skills they don’t yet know they need. At the d.school, she teaches classes such as Inventing the Future with creativity guru Tina Seelig, where students imagine, debate and analyze the 50-year futures of emerging tech. Lisa also works closely with the K12 community to make futures thinking a mainstay of 21c core curriculum.

Kathy Baxter, Architect of Ethical AI Practice, Salesforce


As the Architect of Ethical AI Practice at Salesforce, Kathy develops research-informed best practice to educate Salesforce employees, customers, and the industry on the development of responsible, trusted AI. With over 20 years of experience, Kathy has dedicated her career to improving the user experience with a key focus on ethical research practice at companies such as Google, eBay, Oracle, and Salesforce.

A true trailblazer, Kathy designed and pitched her current role to Salesforce’s Chief Scientist and became the first Salesforce employee whose job is focused solely on product ethics. She collaborates and partners with external AI and ethics experts to continuously evolve Salesforce policies, practices, and products with the ultimate goal of creating a more fair, just, and equitable society.

She holds an M.S. in Engineering Psychology/Human Factors Engineering and B.S. in Applied Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The second edition of her book, “Understanding Your Users,” was published in May 2015.

Shaowen Bardzell (Ph.D.) (Professor of Informatics, Indiana University, and Affiliated Faculty of the Kinsey Institute, Gender Studies, Comparative Literature, and Sustainable Food Systems Science)


Shaowen Bardzell (Ph.D.) is a co-editor of the illuminating and provocative book “Critical theory and Interaction Design” and co-author of “Humanistic HCI,” which illustrates a broad reach of humanistic thought in Human Computer Interaction.

She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University and pursues a humanistic research agenda within the research and practice of Human Computer Interaction and interaction design.

A common thread throughout her work is the exploration of the contributions of design, feminism, and social science to support technology’s role in social change. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Intel Science and Technology Center on Social Computing program.

Kristy Tillman, Slack, Head of Global Experience Design

Kristy Tillman

Kristy Tillman currently serves as the Head of Global Experience Design at Slack. As the first in the role, she is building a team whose mission it is to lead the transformation of built environments, workplace experience, culture, and programs through the use of design and technology to make Slack employees, partners and visitors’ lives more pleasant and productive.

Prior to this role, Kristy built and lead the first Communication Design team at Slack, as the Head of Communication Design. As a former designer at IDEO, an award-winning global design consultancy where she helped solve design problems across a variety of industries including consumer product goods, finance, education, and healthcare. Kristy believes in a future where design is a tool that aids underserved communities in solving sociocultural problems. She is an alumna of Florida A&M University.

Yasmine El Baggari, Founder & CEO, Voyaj

Yasmine El Baggari

Yasmine El Baggari is the founder and CEO of Voyaj, a global platform that connects people from around the globe for one-on-one meaningful exchanges to foster global understanding and peace. Every day, Yasmine and her team are committed to creating a safe environment where the exchange of ideas and stories will result in mutual respect and our ability to embrace our differences, to empower each other to become citizens of the world committed to a healthy, peaceful planet.

For the past years, Yasmine’s reach includes research at Harvard University, and the U.S. State Department as a Youth Moroccan Ambassador to the United States. Her work has appeared in BBC, National Geographic, NPR, Forbes, and the Huffington Post. Yasmine has also received the Royal Air Maroc Award from the African Studies Association, Glamour Women of the Year Microsoft’s Made Achieving Award, Hampshire College’s $60K Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, two Ingenuity Awards and a number of others.

Recently, she was invited to the White House as one of the 100 Most Influential Travel Bloggers, and on Forbes 30 Under 30’s list as one of of the most inspiring and promising entrepreneurs in Africa.

Katie Kirsch, co-Founder Girl Possible

Katie Kirsch

Katie Kirsch is a designer and nonprofit founder focused on creating products, programs, and experiences that engage and empower girls. After attending an all-girls school for 7 years, Katie earned her degree in Product Design Engineering at Stanford and co-founded Girl Possible — a 501(c)3 non-profit equipping middle school girls to become leaders of social change through design thinking. In 2015, the team raised $35,000 on Kickstarter to spend 14 weeks driving across the US in an RV, teaching design thinking & leadership workshops for 1500 girls across 32 states.

Since then, Girl Possible’s teaching toolkits have reached 200+ schools and organizations in 15 countries.

Outside Girl Possible, Katie has spent the past 3.5 years at IDEO in marketing, business development, and design capacities — as well as 2 years at the Stanford d.school as an Adjunct Lecturer for a senior-level design research course. Katie is currently pursuing 2020 for Girls, a global research and design initiative exploring reproductive health and education for girls.

Dr. Melissa Cefkin (Principal Scientist/Sr Manager, Alliance Innovation Lab)

Melissa Cefkin

Melissa Cefkin (Ph.D.) is at the forefront of research and development on human-AI (artificial intelligence) interactions in the context of driving and mobility. As a principal researcher at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley, Cefkin and her team work to answer questions such as how autonomous vehicles can successfully interact with drivers and pedestrians, and what programmers need to know about the behavior of human-directed vehicles so autonomous vehicles can engage with them in a socially acceptable manner.

Trained in anthropology and with a career spent working at the intersection of design and society in the contexts of work, automation, labor and consumption, Cefkin brings a deep and long-standing commitment to socially-centric design practices.

A Fullbright award grantee, Cefkin is also the author of numerous publications. She was recently recognized by SAE International as one of the 36 most influential women in the automotive industry, and contributed a chapter to their new book, “The Road to the Top is Not on the Map.”

Natasha Blum (Principal Director of Blumline)

Natasha Blum

Natasha Blum leads an innovation studio of researchers, designers, and strategists partnering with clients across health, wellness, mobility and education. With a foundation in social science, she specializes in foundational, qualitative research, foresight strategy and systems design. Her lens of cultural insight, behavioral science, and prototyping toward brilliant solutions helps her practice frame and solve problems with emotionally resonant, need-based, provocative solutions across product, service, brand, environment and organization.

With her design-led strategy, she’s helped clients like Livongo, Postmates, Volkswagen, Baxter, and Lincoln create products and services that revolutionize the way we live — creating healthier, happier, and more sustainable ways of being.

An active leader in the design community, she supports the IxDA community, serves as a jury captain for Core77 Design Awards, cofounded the Research Supperclub, is consistently inspired by her participation in the Ethnobreakfast, EPIC and Speculative Design communities. She mentors women and men alike in their design careers with the guidance she wished she had as she forged her unique path to the present.

Lisa Platt, Senior Director, Head of Design at Amplitude

Lisa Platt

Lisa Platt has been building design teams and practices for nearly 20 years. She’s been scaling everything from startups to enterprise — taking them from service organizations to strategic partners. Currently Senior Director of Design at Amplitude, Lisa previously led mobile and web strategy and the Account & Identity space at PlayStation where she championed the focus on cross-platform journeys to engage customers across the ecosystem.

She specializes in hiring and inclusion practices that lead to some of the most diverse and empowered teams across organizations and teaches other leaders how to create systems that lead to stronger teams.

Lisa leveraged her leadership skills as an elected public servant, driving forward multi-modal transportation initiatives, and continues to be a passionate advocate for transit and human-centered infrastructure.

And we’d also like to celebrate some Women of Design of our own: IxDA San Francisco Leadership Daniela Busse, Anna Iurchenko, and May Cheng.

Daniela Busse (Ph.D.), Head of Research, eBay, Inc., Board Leader, IxDA San Francisco.

Daniela Busse

Daniela Busse (Ph.D.) focuses on research, design and incubation of breakthrough user experiences in her career as Director of Research/ Strategic Innovation at Citi Ventures’ Chief Innovation Office, as Design Futurist and Design Innovation Director at Samsung Research, at SAP Lab’s Office of the CEO, Design Researcher at Microsoft’s Office Design Group, and as Head of Research at Oracle Marketing Cloud, and now Head of Research at eBay, Inc.

She holds multiple patents, publications, and has won multiple awards, including an Outstanding Inventor award for her work at Samsung.

Daniela Busse received her PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, and her double degree in Computing Science and Psychology from Glasgow University (Scotland, UK). As of 2018, she is on the board of IxDA-San Francisco together with Anna Iurchenko and May Cheng.

Anna Iurchenko, Interaction Design, Google Health. Board Leader of IxDA San Francisco.

Anna Iurchenko

Anna Iurchenko is a UX designer currently working at Google Health. In the past she worked as a product designer in the various industries for large companies and small startups helping them better understand their customers, find new opportunities and create products that customers love.

She is excited to create experiences that improve people’s lives and influence them to make positive changes. As of 2018, she is on the board of IxDA-San Francisco together with Daniela Busse and May Cheng.

May Cheng (UX Design, Google Hardware (via Adecco)), Board Leader of IxDA San Francisco

May Cheng

May Cheng is currently a UX designer at Google Hardware (via Adecco). In the past she held product design roles for Google X (now known as “X”), Samsung, Intuit, Motorola, Yahoo, and more.

As of 2019, she is on the board of IxDA-San Francisco together with Anna Iurchenko and Daniela Busse.

IxDA San Francisco is serving over 10,000 community members from around the Bay Area, designers and design-related professionals, students, educators, thought leaders, practitioners, and leadership. IxDA SF hosts a wide range of design-focused and social events and initiatives throughout the year. We partner with great companies and organizations to host talks and activities that move interaction design forward and enable practitioners to advance skills, while also providing a platform for members to add their voices to the larger conversation about design practice. Above all, we seek to curate the sharing of ideas, perspectives, and inspiration that help make us all better and more aware thinkers and designers. Get in touch if you’d like to get involved!

Please also see our 2019 Women in Design!

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IxDA San Francisco

IxDA SF is the San Francisco chapter of the global Interaction Design Association (IxDA), a community of more than 5,000 designers, researchers and strategists.