Design for America (DFA) is a national nonprofit organization that grew out of Northwestern University in 2009. The mission of DFA is to educate students about the design process, and apply design problem-solving to social change initiatives.  During her MBA program at Case Western, Sara Mesing, business development manager at XPLANE, launched a DFA Studio, and as a result was invited back to speak at the annual DFA Summer Leadership Conference. While there, she was tapped for imagining what a DFA Alumni Network might look like.


Sharpies in hand, she put on her designer’s hat and sketched out a few ideas.

The first step toward realizing a DFA Alumni Network took place in November at an event in San Francisco. Sara served as the co-producer of the event, working in tandem with Amy Choi, a DFA Alum from UC Berkeley. Together, they planned the agenda of the conference, generated marketing materials, reached out to potential attendees/panelists/mentors/sponsors, handled the event logistics, and solidified a partnership with Parisoma, which hosted the event in its incubator space.

The one-day conference was dubbed the, ‘DFA Creators’ Exchange’ because of its ability to bring together current DFA students, DFA alumni and industry professionals to share ideas about applying Design Thinking and about how to find meaningful work in the areas of design and innovation. This was the first DFA Alumni event in the four-year history of Design for America.

In total, 45 people attended, including current DFA students from UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, University of Oregon and UCLA.  Industry panelists included:

Click here for more info about this event..

Twitter hashtag #DFACreators for more photos from the event.