Artist Residency Programs
Community Design for Leaders
Social sector design strategist
Leaders will leave with a deep understanding of the role of design in mission-driven work and their leadership practice, the resources to shift to a framework of power, belonging, and inclusion, and new relationships as well as a virtual community of support, scholarship, and practice.
Community Design for Leaders is a collaborative learning space intended for designers & creative professionals at various stages of their practice. Developed by FLOX Studio,
Community Design for Leaders offers participants:
- A framework and values rooted methodologies for community-engaged design practices
- An environment to develop a deeper and more nuanced analysis of power and position within the field of design
- Relationships with a community of designers invested in disrupting the status quo
Design wasn’t developed with community in mind – and the impact of this is felt in every element of our work and our lives. From underutilized and unsightlighy public spaces to research practices that don’t center the urgency of the most marginalzed, we need to accelerate design’s ability to respond to the systemic and complex crises of this moment. We need design to be a toolset for change. A pathway to a future where power isn’t held by one, but by many.
How do we get there? Community Design.
Community Design is a community-generated design framework from the 1960s and 70’s that’s made a resurgence in the last several years. Unlike Human-Centered-Design, Community Design provides a path to shift not only WHO is doing the work but WHAT the work is and HOW it is done.
Leaders will leave with:
- Knowledge – A deep understanding of the role of design in private and public sector mission-driven work; and what it means for your leadership practice
- Resources – Models, templates, tools, and tactics to shift to a framework of power, belonging, and inclusion
- Community – New relationships and a virtual community of support, scholarship, and practice
This intensive is facilitated by Sloan Leo (they/he), the Founder & CEO of FLOX Studio Inc. and former faculty in the MFA Design for Social Innovation (DSI) program. For more information on FLOX Studio and Sloan Leo, check them out here. For more information about MFA DSI check them out here.
A share of the course profits will be used to support MFA DSI’s Equity in Design Scholarship Fund that addresses intersectional inequalities in design and promote equitable opportunities starting with the DSI student community.
There are six modules in this course:
- The case for Community Design
- Understanding Yourself as a Designer
- Developing Your Community Design Practice
- Explorations in Collective Inquiry
- Facilitative Leadership
- Moving from Insight to Action
Each module will include:
- Pre-class learning materials (guidebook, learning decks, and optional readings)
- In-class lectures and practice space
- Peer to Peer work time (3 hours of peer to peer time will need to be scheduled outside of class time)
The masterclass is appropriate for people at every phase of career development and experience.
Sloan Leo (they/he) is a Community Design theorist, educator and practitioner.
They are the Founder & CEO of FLOX Studio Inc, a community design and strategy studio working at the intersection of community, organizational development, and design. FLOX Studio offers strategic management consulting and design education intended to re-integrate design and community.
Under Leo’s leadership, FLOX Studio’s partnerships include The Movement Voter Project, The Wikimedia Foundation, The Ms. Foundation For Women, The New York Women’s Foundation, The National Institute for Reproductive Health, The Donors of Color Network, and others.
In January 2020 they were appointed as the inaugural Designer-in-Residence at the School of Visual Arts Design for Social Innovation Master’s program. For seven years he was an adjunct professor of non-profit management at NYU Wagner’s Graduate School of Public Service and now is on faculty at The School of Visual Arts (SVA) Design for Social Innovation Master’s Program, and SVA’s Products of Design Program. In partnership with SVA, Sloan launched Community Design for Leaders, a learning lab for design practitioners looking to orient their practice towards mutuality and justice in Summer 2021.
A frequent speaker and writer, Leo’s been featured at various programs hosted by NYCxDesign, The Design Trust for Public Space, Design For America, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and The New School’s School of Design Strategies and Management. He’s been a guest on Debbie Millman and NYCxDesign’s podcast, The Mic, Revision Path with Maurice Cherry, and frequently collaborates with Kelly Ann McKercher, author of Beyond Sticky Notes: Co-design for Everyone. In fall 2021, they will the keynote speaker for the 2021 Art & Activism symposium hosted by The School of Visual Arts Continuing Education program.
Leo is a current Forbes.com contributor, whose writing has featured in The Journal of Governmental Finance and Public Policy, The Stanford Social Innovation Review, and The European Business Review. In February 2022, their essay exploring Community Design & Post Traumatic Organizational Growth will be published in the forthcoming anthology, The Black Experience in Design, which spotlights teaching practices, research, stories, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens.
A proud graduate of the University at Albany, Leo’s commitment to community and social justice was nurtured by early mentorship from feminists luminaries, Barbara Smith, and Naomi Jaffe. This has rooted their practice in community facilitation methodologies informed by their experiences with groups ranging from The Audre Lorde Project to Resource Generation.
Leo has over 15 years of experience leading and managing social impact staff & volunteer teams. Their early career was as a relationship management strategist working within the non-profit sector where they raised $20M for a wide range of organizations. Including the world’s only international LGBTQ+ human rights foundation, direct service organizations focused on housing for formerly incarcerated individuals and runaway and homeless youth, and Dream Corps, a social justice impact accelerator founded by Van Jones. They then went on to specialize in non-profit board engagement and operations, as the Director of Board Relations for the Environmental Defense Fund, where they managed the boards of EDF, EDFAction, EDF Europe, and EDF China. Subsequently joining the Trust for Public Land as the Chief of Staff, where they facilitated the development of the 2020-2025 strategic plan, “The Power of Land For People”.
As an artist, they were awarded a September 2020 Queer.Archive.Work residency, where they produced QUEERBOOK, a small batch RISO printed, community-sourced artbook, that creatively archived stories of queer community building in the era of COVID19 and America’s great reckoning. In winter 2020, their mixed media installation, “A Watermelon for Leo”, was on view at Pen & Brush Gallery (NY, NY) and received coverage in Whitewall Magazine. Leo has shown work at Darkroom Detroit, Queer.Archive.Work and Pen & Brush Gallery (NYC).
Formerly the Board of Directors, Governance Chair for The Ms. Foundation For Women, Echoing Green Climate Fellowship evaluator and was the 2021 Core77 Design Awards, Social Impact Jury Captain. Today, Sloan serves on the boards of The Design Trust for Public Space.
Sloan Leo's work is decidedly queer, unambiguously black, and compassionately collective. Theirs is a social practice, that embeds them in the dynamics, evolution, and beautifully fraught realities of finding, nurturing, and navigating community. Through facilitation, dialogic pedagogy, digital video, photography, and printing, their work is frankly political and invites the audience to confront and grapple with their own sense of belonging, values, and commitments. leo’s work subtly and explicitly pushes against binary understandings of race and gender. By manipulating and excavating layers of material and meaning Leo’s work is a public exhibition of an intimate and profoundly personal, revelatory journey.
*Photo by Wenting Gu (2021)
If every leader achieved their goals of representational diversity – what would happen next? How do we truly relocate power and decision-making in our organizational structures, strategies, and culture? How do we collectively understand and envision the future of organizational leadership; a future where power isn’t held by one, but by many.