A practitioner-scholar, design researcher, strategist, educator and author, Mariana Amatullo is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Designmatters, the award-winning social impact department of Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California. Since establishing Designmatters as a new college-wide program in 2001, and later expanding it into an educational Department with graduate offerings (through the Media Design Practices Field MFA) and an undergraduate course of study (the Designmatters Concentration), Amatullo has helped conceptualize and manage an award-winning portfolio of global and national educational design projects, research collaborations, and publications at the intersection of art, design and social innovation. Her international work leading experiential design projects and initiatives in design for social innovation have included partnerships with institutions and organizations in India, China, Uganda, and several countries of Latin-America (Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia) and Europe (France, Spain, and Great Britain).
Through her leadership, Art Center is the first design institution to be affiliated as a non-governmental organization with the United Nations and formally accredited with organizations such as the Organization of American States, the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund. Amatullo has been responsible for the stewardship of Art Center’s fundraising strategy in the design for social innovation domain, developing funded educational partnerships and grants with the support of several national foundations (National Endowment for the Arts, VentureWell, Surdna, Nathan Cummings), government entities (US Geological Survey, the office of the Mayors of Pasadena and Los Angeles) and private sector companies and corporate foundations focused on bringing design innovation to emerging markets and underserved populations (Ashoka, Nike Foundation, Autodesk Social Impact Foundation).
Amatullo serves on a variety of advisory and executive boards of organizations engaged in the arts, design education and social innovation including ideo.org, the Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, the DESIS Network, the Winterhouse Institute, and the University of Southern California’s International Museum Institute. As part of her larger service and advocacy for the role of design as a driver of innovation in society, Amatullo participates in a number of national and international multidisciplinary initiatives that integrate design with the fields of science, business and technology. In this role she has been a founding steering committee member for the Great California Shake-Out (2008), served on the committee to develop the “Design for Social Impact” report on a cross-sector agenda for design, education, research and practice with the Smithsonian National Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lemelson Foundation (2012) and is currently a steering committee member of the Keck Future Initiatives 2015 NAFKI conference, a program of the National Academies of Science (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
Amatullo lectures and teaches internationally about design principles and emergent practices in the field of design for social innovation, design for development and design management; as a strategist she focuses on assisting organizations recognize design attitude capabilities as drivers of innovation and organizational change; in the latter capacity she collaborates with the Aspen Institute Business and Society First Movers Fellowship Program, the Inter-Development Bank External Relations Department and the Government Innovation team of Bloomberg Philanthropies. She is the recipient of numerous design and social innovation awards and honors, among them the 2012 DELL Social Innovation Education award for outstanding leadership in teaching and supporting student social innovators, Fast Company’s Co.Design 50 Designers Shaping the Future, and the Public Interest Design 100.
Dr. Amatullo is a Design and Innovation and Non-Profit Management Fellow at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Her dissertation “Design Attitude and Social Innovation: Empirical Studies of the Return on Design,” establishes the first quantitative metrics in the literature that demonstrate the statistical significance of design capabilities in the context of social innovation aims. She holds a Ph.D in Management (Designing Sustainable Systems) from Case Western Reserve University; an M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California and a Licence en Lettres Degree from the Sorbonne University, Paris, where she also studied Art History at L’Ecole du Louvre. A native of Argentina, Amatullo was brought up through the diplomatic corps and grew up around the world. Amatullo lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and two teen-age sons.
Elisa Ruffino is the Director of Designmatters at Art Center College of Design, where she is responsible for overseeing management of the Designmatters’ portfolio of ongoing projects, and leading the program’s operations. Elisa is the project development liaison between Art Center creative teams and Designmatters’ collaborators in the nonprofit, government, global development, academic and business sectors, to yield the program’s trademark real-world outcomes. Since joining Art Center in 2002, Elisa has worked closely with students, faculty and alumni at the College to produce several award-winning awareness campaigns, publications, and documentary films.
In 2010, in response to the release of USGS scientific data foretelling a plausible catastrophic winter storm that would devastate economic and emergency management systems across California, she convened a top team of faculty, students and alumni on the multi-faceted USGS ARkStorm project. Under Elisa’s leadership, the initiative produced two short films, an identity system, and a key role for Art Center in the USGS-hosted ARkStorm Summit in Sacramento in January 2011. There, the team conceived the Summit’s programmatic activities and immersive working sessions, which resulted in catalyzed discussion and consensus among more than 200 participants including emergency managers, structural engineers, meteorologists, business leaders and policy makers at the local, state and federal levels.
In 2012/2013, Elisa provided strategic project development to the pilot implementation of the award-winning “Where’s Daryl?” education toolkit, and its rollout across several schools in the LA Unified School District.
An avid music, food and nature lover, Elisa spends her favorite Sundays cooking and gardening to vintage records played at high volume.
Jennifer May is the Associate Director for Designmatters, where she oversees the Designmatters Fellowship Program, internal department initiatives, and other special projects as assigned by the Vice President. Jennifer first joined Designmatters as the manager of the LEAP Symposium, a gathering of 150 thought-leaders to discuss career pathways in the emergent field of design for social innovation. Jennifer earned her M.B.A. from USC Marshall School of Business, where she was chosen as a Society and Business Lab Graduate Fellow and served as Vice President of Programs for Net Impact, overseeing the USC Board Fellows Program, and as the Special Olympics Liaison for Challenge 4 Charity, leading her peers in the effort to earn over 3,000 volunteer hours. Last summer, she was selected for the competitive Education Pioneers Graduate Fellowship Program, and interned with Excellence in Education Development, a nonprofit that provides financial services to charter schools. Prior to returning to school, Jennifer was the Manager of Special Events for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she served in the dual roles of fundraiser and logistics manager for events such as the Gustavo Dudamel Inaugural Gala and Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl. Jennifer earned her B.A. in Theater Management and Marketing from Emerson College and originally hails from Little Rock, AR.
Carolline Kim is the Coordinator for Designmatters. Her prior work in the space of social impact and education have included positions as a Program Specialist for the national award-winning organization Girls Inc., where she facilitated after-school sessions for young girls in middle and high school in the context of several at-risk school sites throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. Additionally, her work with students includes the international education sector, having taught at one of the largest English academies in Seoul, South Korea.
Carolline’s written works have been published in various Los Angeles-based pop culture magazines (Swindle Magazine, Edible Los Angeles Magazine) as well as in international publications (kasino A4, Dramabeans). Carolline has also been donating her skills and time as Marketing Coordinator for a small arts organization, MNS, whose goal is to raise both funds and awareness for various charities, both local and international, through creative events in the Los Angeles area. It is a small organization that she has continued to work with since its inception in 2010. Carolline is a native of Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in English.