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Mari Nakano

Mari Nakano is a designer, systems strategist, coach, and educator who has been practicing what design can do for products, services, and teams in the social impact space for over 15 years. They are currently focused on building a practice centered around relationship and community-building, food justice, sustainability, and planetary repair; spending part of their time as an adjunct faculty and thesis advisor here at DSI. 

Mari served for 5 years as the Design Director at the NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYCO), where they built strategies to help scale design thinking and strengthen community engagement and participatory research practices across the City. They led NYCO’s Service Design Studio Team, which aims to build up the capacity of government colleagues who are focused on tackling issues around poverty and inequity to understand and apply service design methodologies to improve services, programs, and processes through evidence-based, user-centered, and creative approaches.

Prior to their time at NYCO, Mari served as the Design Lead for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation and focused on building the first full team of designers to support data scientists, engineers, and country program officers to build innovative solutions for children and families around the globe. Prior to design, Mari focused on community organizing with youth, families, and elders in the Little Tokyo, Los Angeles community. Mari holds an M.F.A. in Media Design Practices from ArtCenter College of Design, and a B.A. in Asian American Studies and a minor in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. They have lived in NYC since 2009.

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