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DSI / Social Design

MFA Design for
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New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

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Summer Master Class

Faculty Bios

Cheryl Heller
Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at SVA and President of the design lab CommonWise. She was recently awarded a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellowship, and is a recipient of the prestigious AIGA Medal for her contribution to the field of design. She founded the first design department in a major advertising agency and as president, grew the division to $50m in billings when it was spun off as an independent entity. As a strategist, she has helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion global market leaders, launched category-redefining divisions and products, reinvigorated moribund cultures, and designed strategies for hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. She has taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world.

Her clients have included Ford Motor Company, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, Renaissance Hotels, Sheraton, MeadWestvaco, StoraEnso, the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Medtronic, Pfizer, Mars Corporation, Discovery Networks International, Cemex, Herman Miller, Gap, Bayer Corporation, Seventh Generation, L’Oreal, Elle Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, The World Wildlife Fund, Ford Foundation, and the Girl Scouts of America.

Heller is the former Board Chair of PopTech, and a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $13 million to designers working for the public good, and partnered with Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to create the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.” Her book, The Intergalactic Design Guide, will be published by Island Press in 2018. She is currently working on her Ph.D at RMIT University in Melbourne.



Cheryl Kiser
Cheryl Kiser is the Executive Director of The Lewis Institute and The Babson Social Innovation Lab, and is responsible for leading a critical aspect of the growth strategy for Babson by promoting broad support for Babson’s work in integrating social innovation and social relevance into its curriculum and co-curricular activities. She is a recognized leader in corporate social responsibility and social innovation. Cheryl is also the co-creator of Food Sol an “action tank” at Babson’s Social Innovation Lab dedicated to using entrepreneurship to redesign the food system.


Archie Lee Coates
Archie Lee Coates IV is a founder and partner at PLAYLAB, INC., an extremely multi-disciplinary creative practice founded in 2009 in New York, and run with Jeffrey Franklin, Jonathan O’Brien and Ryan J. Simons. With no particular focus, they explore things that interest them by initiating and working with others on ideas. The past has included: a pie shop called PieLab in Greensboro, AL, giant WORMS for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and a re-brand of America for SFMOMA. In 2011 he co-founded the quarterly print publication called CLOG, and in 2010 co-founded + POOL with Family New York, an initiative to build a water-filtering floating pool in New York’s East River. He is the Executive Director of Friends of + POOL, the non-profit dedicated to building + POOL. He also makes paintings under the name OTTO MILO.


Jeffrey Franklin
Jeffrey Franklin runs a design office called PlayLab, Inc. on Perry St. in the West Village with his best friend, Archie Lee Coates IV. They work on anything and everything under the sun, as long as they find it interesting. They’re currently in the middle of building the world’s first water-filtering floating pool in the East River with Family Architects called + POOL, designing a hideout in the woods in upstate New York, and operating and designing a quarterly architecture publication called CLOG. Together they’ve helped launch a pie shop in Alabama, a graduate-level course in Saudi Arabia, and may or may not have just designed and built a truck for Bruno Mars. They’re not always sure what they’re doing or where they’re going, but they like it that way. Their office motto is: “We’ll see what we see when we get there.”


Despina Papadopoulos
Despina Papadopoulos is the founder of Principled Design, a systems design and strategy studio specializing in wearable technologies, building prototypes, and working with organizations to introduce innovation at the intersection of social structure and technological possibility. She has worked closely with organizations to help them define their mission, map their process and uncover new opportunities. Despina has lectured internationally on the relationship between design, technology and ethics, including at TEDx, CHI, Tate Modern, Smart Fabrics, the Jan Van Eyck Academy and the Ivrea Interaction Design Institute. Her work has been featured in publications around the world and exhibited in major museum shows, including the V&A in London, the Holon Design Museum in Holon, Israel, the Walker Art Center in Minnesota.


Lee-Sean Huang
Lee-Sean Huang is a cofounder and creative director of Foossa, a community-centered design consultancy. His practice incorporates storytelling, user experience, and service design to build more inclusive, participatory, and resilient communities. His work ranges from redesigning the experience of employee health and wellness at a Fortune 500 corporation to helping agencies of the United Nations better manage their institutional knowledge and refresh their public stories in changing times. He has taught senior organizers of the Service Employees International Union ways to rethink labor organizing in a networked age, advised a major social network on the multiple and shifting meanings of friendship, and conducted research supported by the European Union to build tools to scale online citizen debate and deliberation.

He is currently a researcher and head of community for an upcoming book by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms about new power in business, media and politics, scheduled for publication by Penguin Random House in 2017. Lee-Sean holds a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard and a master’s degree from ITP, the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. He serves as president of the ITP alumni association and as a trustee of the Awesome Foundation New York.



Benedetta Piantella
Born and raised in Parma, Italy, Benedetta Piantella is an artist and designer turned humanitarian technologist, when she helped organize emergency response efforts during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 in Sri Lanka. After receiving her Master’s from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU in 2008, she taught Lego robotics and worked for Arduino in Milan. She is the co-founder of GROUND Lab® and more recently T4D Lab®, engineering R&D companies focused on producing sustainable solutions to humanitarian, social, environmental challenges worldwide. Her work experience also includes a stint at Smart Design in NYC.

Benedetta has designed, prototyped and deployed projects in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, and built partnerships with the UN, UNICEF, NYU, Columbia and Princeton. She is also a frequent lecturer, and Open Source advocate.




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

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