I use Design Thinking to solve problems. Design Thinking has allowed me to help a lot of people and organizations achieve their objectives. The following is a list of projects that I’ve been involved in.
The Park House
2009 – Present
Aided a local food business to address pressures coming from operating in a challenging market with little capital to spare, growing competition, and limited resources. Helped strategize and frame their marketing ideas in order to maximize customer retention and to make them a more appealing destination for new customers. Helped them generate a web presence for the first time in 2009 and to update their website for better UX in 2016.
I continue to advise The Park House on their marketing and future growth plans.
The Market Cooks
Feb 2016 – Sept 2016
Helped a federally funded commercial kitchen keep its funding, remain in operations, and transition it to a new location when it’s location and its existence were threatened by the closing of another nonprofit of which it shared space.
Along with a small group of talented individuals we overcame a major misstep by those who were previously responsible who failed to properly secure the kitchen’s equipment as debt attached to the federal grant exposing it as securing debt the other nonprofit was responsible for upon their closing. This lead to a complicated claim of ownership which required careful negotiation with several organizations including the city’s redevelopment authority who had a claim to the other nonprofits assets, the landlord who was rightfully apprehensive about releasing the equipment without clear ownership, and the federal government’s Dept. of Health and Human Services Community and Economic Development division who provided the funding for the kitchen’s equipment as part of the grant was adamant that the equipment could not be collateral for any other loans.
Not only did my team unravel and resolve all issues related to ownership and ensure that the grant requirements would be met but we satisfied and made whole, as well as could be, the city’s redevelopment authority while satisfying the requirements of the federal government. We were more importantly able to partner with another local nonprofit who owns their building and were able to immediately take the equipment and to take in many of the kitchen’s users while offering them more assistance with their businesses than there was capacity to offer at the prior location.
2012 – 2016
Served as President of the Board of Directors for a large community development nonprofit in one of the city’s most dynamic and valuable neighborhoods. Helped transition and modernize the organization after the resignation of its long-time executive director and her staff while restoring relationships, rebuilding confidence in the organization, and acting not only as the president but also serving as the de facto director ensuring that day-to-day operations were conducted.
During my tenure I lead town hall meetings on a variety of subjects from public safety to events that both disrupted normal business as well as enhanced and promoted local business. Meetings covered topics important to the neighborhood. During these meetings I often had to suggest solutions to problems presented on the fly or otherwise brainstorm solutions to problems that stakeholders were facing. I’d also take feedback from these meetings to our board and committees so that solutions could be found and implemented.
I implemented a new communications strategy to keep members informed weekly and a newsletter for fans of the neighborhood as well as designing a new social media strategy that amplified what organizational members were doing. After helping select a new Executive Director and finding a successor I stepped down and was asked to serve as an emeritus member of the Board.
Sustainable Cities Design Academy
Served as an local advisor on the Sustainable Cities Design Academy project looking at the Allegheny Riverfront along Pittsburgh’s Strip District which resulted in a comprehensive design plan produced by RiverLife. The design plan is being followed and incorporated into new riverfront developments by several developers and will connect the neighborhood to the river on and next to these developments. It will include several parklets and will function as long a linear park connecting to downtown and helping residents and visitors to enjoy both the neighborhood and the river as well as increasing the value of the these and future developments.
31st Street Lofts
Developed a website for a commercial apartment complex that allowed the ownership to compete with larger complexes in their area through increasing SEO, better demonstrating their amenities and the amenities in the neighborhood at large, as well as empowering the owners with the ability to quickly advertise available apartments themselves while increasing awareness for their property.
Animation As Storytelling
2009 – 2015
Co-developed an arts education animation program that helped children to learn the art of storytelling, increase their creative thinking abilities, and ability to express and work through complex situations, thoughts, or feeling they were experiencing. We worked with children in a variety of settings including those in a school for children on the autism spectrum, in homeless shelters, in schools in low income neighborhoods, at after-school programs, and in museums both urban and rural.
2014 – 2015
Assisted a community oriented database administrator in creating a web service that would make finding affordable housing easier while moving more municipal owned properties onto the tax rolls and helping bring awareness to those with back-taxes whom may have been unaware of their debts due to issues with previous municipal service providers.
Consulted on UX design with the goal of helping display the complex amount and generally not very interesting information in a way that users could not only access it but could find real use for it.
The Guesthouse at Lost River
Feb 2011 – Jun 2014
Advised the owners of an Inn on methods of adapting to social changes which were reducing the number of niche clientele that they serve seeking them out both inside and out of their niche. Provided an analysis of their customer’s reasons for choosing their establishment over other options and developed a plan for both a premium package and better overall marketing strategy that encouraged them to not chase hard-to-convert leads but rather to appeal to the things that attract their guests to them.
Helped produce marketing material for the Inn and the owners additional real estate business.
The Makeshop Show
2011 – 2014
Co-developed a kids web-series focusing on maker culture in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Acted as executive producer, producer, and editor. Along with my business partner David English, our partners at the Children’s Museum, and under the guidance of Dr. Alice Wilder who was an advisor on the show we created a web-based media platform that encouraged kids to make, produced how-to and inspirational videos, articles, and more which were shared with a large regional audience and attracted the attention of two major children’s media production organizations.
2011 – 2013
Spurred the transition of a real estate and development company in a holiday market who’d always focused solely on their own properties into a regional resource by adding MLS listings to their website and increasing SEO.
As larger real estate companies had moved into the area they were being eclipsed and seeing a drop in their revenue. By listing all of the available properties on their website and not just their own we transformed them into a modern real estate agency, one that is viewed by those searching for an agent or for a home as a reliable and comprehensive online resource.
We also helped build their search engine optimization so they could compete with the nationally known agencies by offering information the websites of those companies don’t offer.
Create a bank stabilization and erosion control system for a community garden who had placed rented garden beds too close to an unstable backfilled steep hillside which was collapsing onto and into the walking path.
The system works in a way similar to how nature would by using wood and debris material to slow the erosion and by allowing those items to break down to more stable soil that was subsequently planted with perennials that have stabilized the embankment.
Sprout Fund Ideation Moderation
2010 – 2013
Moderated guided discussion and ideation working groups through the development process related to two separate grant programs offered by a local non-profit, The Sprout Fund. These ideation projects were part of their grant application assistance programs wherein they offered an overview of the grant programs and moderators such as myself would work with a group of potential applicants to run through a mock project that could seek funding.
Allegheny River Green Blvd Plan
2011 – 2013
Participated in planning sessions on the Green Boulevard Plan which was designed to increase the value of 6 miles of riverfront through several neighborhoods while increasing the ecological health and establishing public amenities including alternative means of traveling through the corridor.
Cob Bench Build
Designed and lead the community construction workshop of a cob bench in the Hazelwood Food Forest.
ALOG Park Design Submission
Participated in the planning process and submitted a physical design for a park on city owned land that would be managed by a local religious nonprofit in a low-income neighborhood. Advocated several physical designs that would help mitigate issues related to criminal activity without creating psychological barriers that would reduce the use of the park by community members.
Center for Creativity
2011 – 2012
Aided the staff at AIU3 in the develop the online presence for the Center for Creativity so that they could deliver programs similar to those they offer onsite over their website as well as developing their newsletter and a registration system for their events.
Dor – United States of Mind
Co-produced a theatrical performance of an original play based on the experiences of 4 Romanian students who found themselves in Pittsburgh after being exploited through the federal government’s J-Visa program. The production brought together a marginalized community, Romanian expatriates, and highly respected members of the local arts and cultural scene and showcased the talent of these 4 amazing students along with a small supporting cast.
The performance focused on the feeling of “dor” a Romanian term that most closely translates as homesick but also encompasses a feeling of missing a place you’re going to leave soon and the apprehension and sadness that accompanies it. The play featured several songs, dance numbers, complex lighting and sound effects and interaction with multimedia sources. My role included sound and video production as well as assisting with lighting and other technical duties as well as promotion and guest services.
Aided in the construction of a cob oven as a focal point of a large community garden in Millvale, community across the river from Pittsburgh which happens to be a food desert. The oven and gardens serve as a community gathering spot where growers not only come to tend their allotments but could, through the oven, share their harvests with each other at events throughout the growing season.
TEDx Youth Pittsburgh Presentation
Co-presented on the topic of making at a TEDx event at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.