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Exploring Careers in Creative Design is a collaborative series developed by the Center for Careers and Internships and Middlebury in DC with content contributions from members of the Middlebury Professional Network and Middlebury students.

Design is absolutely everywhere—from the clothes we wear to the apps we use; from the cars we drive to the chairs we sit on. As a designer, you have the power to shape the world in which we live. The global market for design services is expected to be nearly $250 billion by 2022. This series includes interviews with many professionals who will share their vantage points on how they use creative design in their career roles, their paths from campus to career, and career advice they would have for students interested in this career space.

Episode 6: Conversational Design Enabling Chatbot Solutions

Guest Speaker: Yina Smith-Danenhower ‘09, Head of Product Design at XAPP AI
Interviewer: Kexin Tang ‘23
Video: 32 minutes

Yina Smith-Danenhower ‘09, Head of Product Design, XAPP AI. Since her years at Middlebury, Yina has been a dancer/choreographer, an architectural designer, UX designer, and now a conversational designer at XAPP AI where she directs a creative review process to ensure coherency with design principles and the design language system through contribution and collaboration with the team. After graduating from Middlebury with a degree in Dance and International Studies, she applied her academic preparations as an independent dance choreographer and performer for three years in New York City.  Yina subsequently pursued a Masters in Architecture at the Harvard University School of Design, and after graduating, worked as a Senior Architectural Assistant with LWK & Partners Ltd. in Hong Kong.  She ultimately determined that UX/UI design and more specifically voice/conversation design was the place to bring her design interests and accelerating technological innovation together in her current role.

Episode 5: Human-Centered Product Design

Guest Speaker: James Schonzeit ‘10, Manager Design with Block
Interviewer: Masud Tyree Lewis ‘22
Video: 34 minutes

James Schonzeit ‘10, Design & Research Manager at Block (formerly known as Square).  James leads the product design and research efforts for the Restaurants Team at Block. A whole lot has changed for restaurants in the past couple of years–to put it lightly. QR codes! Ghost kitchens?! Handheld ordering!! The pace of change doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon and James’ team focuses on meeting the changing needs of their customers through Block’s product offering. Prior to joining Block, he gained experience in product strategy development, UX research, and product design with IDEO, fuseproject, IA collaborative, Webb deVlam, and Marketing Evolution. James has a B.A. in Economics and Film & Media Culture from Middlebury.

Episode 4: Creative Design Meets Data Visualization

Guest Speaker: Leah Welch ‘11, Data Visualization Designer, Bottomline Technologies
Interviewer: Sol Manuel Garza ‘22
Video: 28 minutes

Leah Welch ’11, Data Visualization Designer, Bottomline Technologies. Leah is a transdisciplinary designer crossing boundaries between art, graphic design, data science, storytelling, and front-end development. She creates interactive data-driven experiences, algorithmic animations, and illustrated information design artifacts.  Prior to her experiences with Bottomline, Leah worked with ModMan Enterprises as a Design Director developing brand identity through logo, web, and store designs. She also has been an Art & Design Teacher with Zhejiang Ivy International Academy and Director of College Counseling at The Orme School. Leah majored in History of Art & Architecture while at Middlebury and is currently pursuing an MFA in Information Design & Data Visualization at Northeastern University.

Episode 3: Architectural Design in The Workplace

Guest Speaker: Lindsay Winstead ‘10, Program Manager - Global Workplace Design, Adobe
Interviewer: Sanjana Roy ‘22
Video: 28 minutes

Lindsay Winstead ‘10 manages a myriad of workplace projects for Adobe offices globally, including re-envisioning and digitizing their global space guidelines and designing and launching the Future of Work’s Dynamic Work Program. Prior to her time with Adobe, she held a number of roles as a designer and architect with WeWork in San Francisco. She has held designer and architect roles with a number of other organizations for technology, healthcare, energy, and the U.S. government. Lindsay has a Masters of Design in Interior Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and majored in Architectural Studies while at Middlebury.

Episode 2: “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken” - Design in a Creative Agency

Guest Speaker: Katie Rominger ‘14, Design Director at Jones Knowles Ritchie
Interviewer: Clara Wolcott ‘22
Video: 27 minutes

Katie Rominger ’14, Katie is a graphic designer based in New York City. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from Middlebury College and a degree in graphic design from the School of Visual Arts. Currently, she is a Design Director at Jones Knowles Ritchie, where she develops distinctive graphic identities and brand systems for a wide range of clients. Previously she was an Associate Partner at Pentagram, where she worked on new brand identities for Mastercard, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, The Frick Collection, Central Park Conservancy, and many others.

Episode 1: Fashioning Interior Designs

Guest Speaker: Chrissy Ritter ‘16, Project Manager and Senior Designer at Charlotte Moss LLC
Interviewer: Megan Mahoney ‘22

Chrissy Ritter ’16, Project Manager and Senior Designer, Charlotte Moss LLC. Chrissy has been involved in the interior design industry, working with Charlotte Moss since her graduation from Middlebury with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies and Studio Art. In her years there, she has advanced from Design Associate to Interior Designer to Senior Designer and Project Manager. In addition to her academic experiences while at Middlebury, Chrissy was the captain of the 2016 National Champion Women’s Lacrosse Team.