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Designing for social change is complex work. It requires considering the many stakeholders and factors that could affect outcomes, having deep understanding of people while seeing the bigger picture, gaining clarity and conviction despite incomplete information, and discovering and choosing interventions that have impact, in the multitude of possibilities. Our belief and experience is human-centered design is a powerful methodology and mindset to employ in this work.

The purpose of Designing for Social Systems is to empower leaders and practitioners in the nonprofit, philanthropy, government, and social impact fields to work more effective, human, and strategic ways. In collaboration with these practitioners, we aim to redesign how this work is done, develop more effective interventions, and advance the sector as a whole.

The Designing for Social Systems program has three parts:

The DSS Fellowship, a six-month full-time program for mid-to-late career social impact leaders to learn the methodology and rigorously apply it to ambitious projects with the potential for large systems-level change. 

The DSS Workshop provides participants with an opportunity to learn the tools and approaches of human-centered design, systems thinking, and communication design, and understand how to apply it to their own particular work.

The DSS Knowledge Base offers our resources free-of-charge to the public, so a greater audience can benefit from the methodology.

Learn more about our program's history and approach

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DSS Workshop

Intensive workshop for leaders and practitioners in nonprofit, philanthropy, government, and social impact fields.

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DSS Fellowship

At this time we have not finalized next year’s fellowship start date and topic focus areas.

Applications are currently closed. 

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Project Fellowship

Team Members

Thomas Both

Director, Designing for Social Systems

Marna Romanoff

Program Manager, Designing for Social Systems

Nadia Roumani

Senior Designer, Designing for Social Systems


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Mick Smyer

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