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The Speakers and Their Talks


Photo of Julie AnixterJulie Anixter, Executive Director of AIGA
@JulieAnixter  |

Julie Anixter is the new Executive Director of AIGA, the professional association for design. With over 20 years of experience in brand, design, and innovation, she believes that design has the power to change the world, and that designers are some of our foremost problem solvers. She has experience in almost every facet of the design discipline including consulting, curation, education, innovation, management, marketing, public affairs, and R&D. She has led initiatives for diverse organizations including P&G, Kimberly Clark, GE, Raytheon, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Naval Aviation Command. The co-author of four books, she has also collaborated closely with many thought leaders to amplify their influence and disseminate their work, most notably Seth Godin, Tom Peters and Judith Glaser.

Talk Title: Designers as Innovators
Talk Takeaways:
•  The roles designers play in innovation in every domain
•  The skills and mindset of the designer as innovaton
•  Examples of designers who’ve driven innovation


erica deahl imageErica Deahl, UX Designer at 18F
@18F  |

Erica Deahl is a UX designer and researcher at 18F. She spent the last few years completing a Master’s degree at MIT and developing educational technologies to support youth data literacy and civic engagement. Previously she was a senior designer at 2×4 in New York City, where she lead digital projects for art, education, and retail clients.

Talk Title: U.S. Web Design Standards


Ethel KesslerEthel Kessler, Ethel Kessler Design

One of the art directors in the country for the U.S. Stamp Program. Developing over 300 postal stamp designs for the United States, integrating knowledge of American History, marketing strategy, design of educational materials, technological innovation, and interpretive design processes. Art directed one of the most unique stamp projects to date, the Breast Cancer Research Semi-Postal stamp, issued in 1998 which is the first stamp in the U.S. to raise money for a charitable cause. Over one billion have been printed and the stamp has raised over $76,000,000 for Breast Cancer research. Art directed and designed stamps for Alzheimer’s Awareness, Library of Congress, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, the Nature of America series, Love, Weddings among many others.

Talk Title: Years in the Making, Cast of Thousands



amira choueiki image

Amira Choueiki, Innovation Specialist at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team
@achoueiki  |

Amira drives SBST’s work focused on improving government operations, which ranges from improving program integrity, to changing the citizen experience interacting with government forms, processes, and information sharing to increasing the productivity of the Federal workforce. Prior to joining SBST, Amira worked as a management consultant serving financial services, international, national, and state-level governmental clients. She was a founder of Deloitte’s US and Canadian Behavioral Insights Groups, and specialized in government reform, performance and impact measurement, social finance, and social enterprise projects. Before Deloitte, she researched the human capital practices of Middle Eastern and North African terrorist organizations. Trained in Human Centered and User Experience design, Amira is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

(No press please)

Talk Title: Science of Design
Talk Takeaways:
• You can rapidly and quantitatively test your design (and examples of how)
• Insights from the social and behavioral sciences are unique inputs to the UX / HCD / Design Thinking process and where they fit


Gaby BrinksGaby Brink, Founder and Chief Designer of Tomorrow Partners
@tmrrwpartners  |

Gaby Brink is the founder and chief designer of Tomorrow Partners, a Berkeley, California based design and innovation firm, where she works with blue chips, start-ups, social entrepreneurs and government to realize new opportunities for impact—be it business, social or both. A past member of the Board of Directors of AIGA, the largest and oldest professional design organization, she fosters dialogue and action around the industry’s role in design-driven social change. Gaby frequently speaks on systems thinking, human-centered design and innovation in government, and produces best practices, conferences and convenings around these same topics.

Talk Title: Panel: Return on Design Investment


Justin Howard

Justin Howard, Creative Director at Deloitte Digital
@justinkhoward  |  @DeloitteDIGI_US

Justin Howard is Creative Director of Deloitte Digital D.C., where he bridges the gap between creative and technology, business acumen, and industry insight—leading digital projects that transform clients’ businesses. He has over 15 years of experience as a creative professional, building brands and delivering strategic creative solutions to a diverse range of clients in the commercial, federal, and public sectors. Justin’s ethos is design, and he directs this passion to every project—whether he’s helping a client reimagine their digital customer experience or building a healthcare mobile app. When he’s not spending time collaborating with his team to create awesome digital experiences, Justin can most likely be found eating his way through the lively restaurant scene in D.C. If you ever need a recommendation, he’s your guy.

Talk Title: Panel: Return on Design Investment


Noah Manger

Noah Manger, Visual/UX Designer at 18F
@18F  |

Noah is a product manager, UX designer and front-end developer at 18F based in Portland, Oregon. He specializes in being a generalist and loves to align design and development under a unified product vision and strategy. As the product lead for, he has helped the Federal Election Commission to better serve the public with their digital services through an iterative, user-centered and open development process. Before diving headfirst into pixels and bits, Noah worked as a civic organizer, event planner and advocate for public interest issues.

Talk Title: Designing the Plane as You Fly It
Talk Takeaways:

  • How to work closely as visual and front end designers
  • How to build out a design system for a beta product
  • How to make sure you’re not building more deliverables than you need


Emileigh Barnes

Emileigh Barnes, Visual/UX Designer at 18F
@18F  |

Talk Title: Designing the Plane as You Fly It
Talk Takeaways:

  • How to work closely as visual and front end designers
  • How to build out a design system for a beta product
  • How to make sure you’re not building more deliverables than you need


Nathaniel Axios profile imageNathaniel Axios, Art Director at Deloitte Digital
@NathanielAxios  |

Nathaniel is an art director with Deloitte Digital, where he helps clients build deeper experiences and stronger brand credibility through design, creative thinking, and technology. Some might say with 18 years under his belt, he’s now considered a creative adult. Nathaniel has led creative development for numerous companies, non-profits, and federal agencies including National Institute of Health, American Institute of Architects, Sapient Government, National Wildlife Federation (Ranger Rick), and American College of Cardiology.

Talk Title: The Art of Managing Digital Transformations


Donald Deadbetter

Donald Leadbetter, NPS Partnership Coordinator in the Centennial Office of the National Park Service

Donald has been with the National Park Service Centennial Office as a partnership coordinator since May 2014, working with an array of partners to plan and deploy special events, programs, and projects, including the Find Your Park campaign. Prior to these centennial duties, he spent three years working in the agency’s Commercial Services program, which manages park concessions. Before joining the National Park Service, he spent a decade working the front lines of the travel and tourism sector, crewing on small cruise ships in North and Central America; traveling the USA and Canada as a camping tour guide; and spending a summer manning the front desk at a lodge in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Donald received a master’s degree in tourism administration from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s in business from the University of Memphis.

Talk Title: The National Park Service’s Centennial and the Find Your Park Campaign
Talk Takeaways:

  • How the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation determined their big-picture goals for the Centennial
  • Why and how they developed and deployed a marketing campaign (Find Your Park) as a key component of the centennial commemoration


Placeholder Image - DotGovDesign Conference LogoKristen Ogren, Senior Director of Brand Development at National Park Foundation
@GoParks  |

Kirsten joined the National Park Foundation’s Marketing and Communications team in May of 2006. As the Sr. Director of Brand Development she oversees event branding, creative assets, coordination of editorial content for print and digital platforms as well as an array of projects with the Find Your Park campaign. Prior to joining the Foundation Kirsten worked in the retail industry for 17 years, where she held various field positions for Gap Inc and Urban Outfitters Inc including Store Manager, Visual Manager, and Central Staffer. Kirsten holds a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Anthropology from the University of Delaware. She also holds a degree in Pastry Arts from L’Academie de Cuisine. She was born in Washington DC and grew up just outside the city in Bethesda, MD.

Talk Title: The National Park Service’s Centennial and the Find Your Park Campaign
Talk Takeaways:

  • How the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation determined their big-picture goals for the Centennial
  • Why and how they developed and deployed a marketing campaign (Find Your Park) as a key component of the centennial commemoration


Seema PatilSeema Patel, Division Chief, Innovation Design and Advisory Global Development Lab, USAID

Seema Patel, a native of Washington D.C., is a passionate advocate for social change, committed to supporting high-impact entrepreneurs with innovative, sustainable, scalable solutions to poverty and indignity. She is the Division Chief for Collective Acceleration at the Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She leads a team that invests in open innovation and systems innovation approaches to foster collaboration across global innovation networks and accelerate the adoption of solutions to complex development challenges. Previously, she worked at DAI as an advisor to donors, for-profit and non-profit clients on innovation challenge programs, commercialization and acceleration strategies for social impact entrepreneurs, public-private partnerships, and private sector development. She spent two years as policy analyst on post-conflict development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, advising international civilian and military agencies on Afghanistan reconstruction policy. Seema started her career as an investment banker working on emerging market deals for Citigroup in London and venture financing for the infotech and biotech start-up sector at a small boutique firm in San Francisco. She holds a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University. Seema enjoys outdoor adventures like kayaking, skiing and surfing and can be found most weekends in Rock Creek Park getting outflanked by her herding dog or putting the latest restaurant reviews to the test.

Talk Title: Design Thinking in Development



Chris Farwell, Maga Design  |  @MagaDesignInc  |

Chris Farwell, Art Director at Maga Design, has been with the company for 8+ years. There, he provides leadership and direction for Maga’s incredibly talented design team and is an evangelist for their proven Explore, Envision, and Execute process. He specializes in crafting visual stories. For more information on Maga and to schedule a time to visit the Studio, you can reach him at

Talk Title: The Power of Visual Information Mapping

SUSAN WITTMERSusan Wittmer, Federal Government
Talk Title: A Peek Behind the Curtain
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Stephanie NguyenStephanie Nguyen, USDS – Department of Education |  @nguyenist

Stephanie Nguyen is a User Experience Designer at the United States Digital Service (USDS). Previously, she was cofounder of a mapping and navigation startup funded by the DC Government and has a background in data visualization where her work has been shared to publications such as Forbes and Fortune 500 clients globally. Stephanie is a DC women in tech community organizer and has been profiled for her work in The Washington Post, Washington Life Magazine, The Washingtonian’s Top Tech Titans and Biznow’s Top 40 Women in Tech.

Talk Title: Designing for Student Loans: 3 Teachable Moments







Conference identity by federal designer, George Kokkinidis.

Deloitte Digital: Special thanks for Tim Young and Rica Rosario
CHIEF: Special thanks to Scott Johnson and Steve Fultz
Aquent: Special thanks to Lee Andrese
Maga Design: Special thanks to Scott Williams, Marisa DeSalvio, and Catherine Madden

DotGovDesign is an initiative of AIGA DC. To learn more about AIGA DC, go here. To learn more about the volunteers who run the chapter, go here.