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MFA Design for Social Innovation

MFA Design for
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136 W 21st St,
5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

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Elizabeth Abernethy, ’15, Mixes Social Design and Business in Silicon Valley

Liz Abernethy came to DSI directly after completing her undergraduate degree in design. Most of her design peers were going into advertising or marketing, but to Liz, that “just felt really wrong.” She knew she wanted to use her skills for something bigger. That’s when she found DSI. Liz said, “I felt like it spoke directly to me, and that’s where I needed to be.”

While many of our students take a year or two before coming back for their MFA, Liz was certain what she wanted from her next step in her career, and from DSI; and she wasted no time getting there.liz-alum-2

Liz says, “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. DSI was this beautiful mixture of every aspect of design. It was the practical elements of design —how to work in teams, how to communicate with stakeholders, how to do design research. It was the opportunity to work on crucial world issues with a global cohort of perspectives. It was challenging skills-wise, but it was also challenging emotionally and personally. It really helped me figure out how I fit into the world and what I believe in — and it challenged a lot of those things, too.”

Liz moved to Silicon Valley after graduation, a place where decisions are made daily that impact how we live and work, but with a lack of diversity in the voices that are making those decisions for us. It appears she’s already working to change that.

Liz is currently a Product Designer at a startup called Neighborly: a company working to democratize public finance through municipal bonds. She says, “municipal bonds fund the most critical aspects of our country’s infrastructure, from roads and water resources, to airports, hospitals, parks and schools. We want to create a regenerative financial economy in our cities, where communities can directly finance the tomorrows that they want to see.”

As for advice for others thinking about coming to DSI, Liz says this: “Every day, I work in a system at the intersection of government and the private sector, with complex stakeholders and even more complex motivations. Part of my job is to figure out what all of their incentives are and try to align them in a way that makes tomorrow a little bit better for all of us. That’s a skill that DSI gave me. I get to do that every day now.”

136 W 21st St,
5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

SUBSCRIBE