A note from the Co-Directors

A message from Zaza Kabayadondo, Co-Director of the Design Thinking Initiative
I have had the chance to meet some of you in person to let you know my good and sad news: my partner and I got engaged this semester! After three years of Massachusetts-California visits, this marks a wonderful opportunity for us to join our households and we plan to move in together this summer in California. I have put in my notice here at Smith and have been working with Borjana, the faculty co-director, and our advisory board to plan for the future of design thinking and a smooth transition as the Design Thinking Initiative searches for a new co-director. 
 
I will be working remotely from California to run our summer Design Immersion Experience with our four students who are traveling all around the world to try their hands at applying design thinking to the challenges of working in organizations with a social impact mission. Stay tuned to hear about their adventures! 
 
My time at Smith has been incredibly enriching experience and I am happy to have worked with you and to have played a part in building the Design Thinking Initiative. The Initiative will continue to focus on cultivating student agency to be design leaders and changemakers who value empathy and collaboration. We will also continue to build synergy with faculty and staff who are experimenting and innovating in their work and support of the curriculum. 
– Zaza
A message from Borjana Mikic, Faculty Co-Director of the Design Thinking Initiative
It is with a heavy heart, but one filled with gratitude that I invite you to join me in thanking Zaza for her creativity, dedication, and hard work on behalf of the Design Thinking Initiative. I am confident that I speak for us all in saying that she will be deeply missed! 
 
Zaza came to Smith when we were still trying to put shape to what had just been a fledgling set of ideas outlined in our October, 2014 white paper, “Design Thinking and the Liberal Arts: a framework for re-imagining a liberal arts education.” It is exciting to see how many of those ideas have come to fruition under her creative spirit, and how many members of our community have been involved in our work in some way. In three short years, nearly 2,000 individual students, faculty and staff spanning all three academic divisions at the College. Our Curricular Enhancement Grant program has helped infuse design thinking methods and mindsets into many courses at the College, and has brought together students, faculty and staff in shared design challenges on campus and beyond. Our robust prototyping studio, energetically and capably run by Leo Selvaggio, has provided resources to our community to experiment with what it means for making to be conceptualized as a form of thinking, and thinking a form of making. Perhaps most notably, under Zaza’s steady hand, the Design Thinking Initiative has become synonymous with developing comfort with the discomfort of not yet knowing. Capen Annex represents both a physical and liminal space that invites us to listen carefully, to reframe based on that deep listening, and to ask, how might we think about things in a different, more human-centered, way?
 
I will be reaching out to update you again soon on our plans to search for Zaza’s replacement, for bridging Leo’s position with a supremely talented post-bac who was one of his key student design partners this past year, and to get your best thinking on how we can continue to support your curricular and co-curricular needs over the next few years. In the meantime, please swing by our Open House on Saturday, May 19th from 2:30-4 to thank Zaza for her hard work and to wish her the best as she moves on to this next exciting chapter in her life!
– Borjana

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