A Great
Team

Kareeshma Ali

Design Research Lead

Kareeshma is enraptured by the mind-body-environment connection. She joined Greater Good Studio in 2016 with great excitement about bridging her experience in the built environment with the practice of human-centered design, and using design research to create positive, social and environmental impact. Kareeshma holds a Masters in Architecture and Urban & Regional Planning, and a Post-Professional Certificate in Social and Environmental Design from Archeworks. When not in the studio, you can find Kareeshma in motion through dance and yoga.

Pissed-off about: Skepticism over climate change
Optimistic about: The inherent “goodness” of people
Inspired by: On Being with Krista Tippett  

Email Kareeshma

George Aye

Co-Founder & Director of Innovation

George co-founded Greater Good Studio with the belief that design can lead to positive behavior change. Previously, he spent seven years at global innovation firm IDEO before being hired as the first human-centered designer at the Chicago Transit Authority. Since founding Greater Good, he has worked across multiple social issues including autism, criminal justice, education, public health and health care. He has facilitated discussions with small executive leadership teams and workshops with 150+ participants to help uncover hidden opportunities for innovation. George is an adjunct full professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pissed-off about: The rise of anti-scientific agendas in politics
Optimistic about: The fact that every major societal change used to look crazy
Inspired by: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of optimism.” – Winston Churchill

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Sara Cantor Aye

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Sara co-founded Greater Good Studio to apply her background in ethnographic research and design strategy to overlooked problems and underserved people. At Greater Good, she designs effective and inclusive engagements, guides the research practice, and develops partnerships with clients, peers and mentors. Sara speaks regularly on designing for social impact and has facilitated social innovation workshops around the world with a wide range of learners, from nonprofit executives to high school students. Sara holds a master’s in design planning from the Institute of Design at IIT and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University.

Pissed-off about: Voter suppression
Optimistic about: Social impact bonds
Inspired by: This compelling case for serving the Unexotic Underclass

Email Sara

Christina Cosío

Director of Operations

Christina provides project and team support at Greater Good Studio. Previously, as managing director of special exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she coordinated projects within a teaching gallery and gained appreciation for communication and design as tools for social change. Christina holds a bachelor’s in sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in history and museum studies from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is currently pursuing her master’s in business administration from the University of Illinois.

Pissed-off about: Inhumane deportation programs
Optimistic about: The power of journalism
Inspired by: Agnes Martin

Email Christina

Gabriel B. Ibarra

After School Matters Operations Intern

Gabriel provides the Greater Good Studio team with an extra pair of hands whenever, wherever, they’re needed. Previously a Creative Writing Advanced Apprentice with Chicago’s After School Matters, he honed his writing abilities in poetry and spoken word and gained the confidence to branch out into the internship field that ASM offered to him. As a recent graduate of Holy Trinity High School, he holds an Honors Diploma earned from completing a B-STEM co-curriculum. He is off to Stonehill College in Easton MA., to study Secondary Education with an endorsement in Biology. The want to provoke positive change in the world makes him a great fit at Greater Good Studio.

Pissed-off about: Low voter turnouts
Optimistic about: Political Activity of Generation Z
Inspired by: “All our dreams can come true; if we have the courage to pursue them.” —Chicago’s Own, Walt Disney

Email Gabriel

Samantha Kawabata

Operations Manager

Samantha started her career in the nonprofit world focusing on activism and awareness. Her focus on creating change and connecting with people followed her through career changes and time spent in retail, opening new markets for Starbucks and the finance arena. Bringing 10 years of operations management skills, she is looking forward to using her prior experiences to add value and further the mission of Greater Good Studio.

Pissed Off About: The attack on women’s health initiatives.
Optimistic About: Youth activism in America.
Inspired By: Low Income Housing Options in Seattle

Email Samantha

Kate Maitland

Design Researcher

Kate is fascinated by connections — from how seemingly unrelated ideas fit together to the interconnectedness of all things. She joined Greater Good Studio by way of a career in public health focused on advancing health equity, particularly around food issues. Driven by a constant desire to try new things, she has worn many professional hats and has worked in national nonprofits, community-based organizations, and academic institutions alike.  She holds a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a Bachelor’s in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Pissed off about: Othering
Optimistic about: 
Active citizenship
Inspired by: 
Pod Save the People

Email Kate

Kyle Newton

Design Lead

For Kyle, design has always been deeply rooted in critical thinking and organic creativity. He has a strong interest in people, culture and how we create meaning in the world around us. Kyle studied communication design at Washington University in St. Louis, where he began exploring how human-centered design relates to his interest in anthropological research. Before joining Greater Good Studio, he worked at a local publication firm and a design innovation firm working on a range of commercial and social challenges.

Pissed-off about: Intersectional inequities
Optimistic about: The power of empathic listening
Inspired by: Still Processing podcast

Email Kyle

Alexa Ramirez

Marwen Design Intern

Alexa Ramirez just graduated from Latin School of Chicago and will be attending Pomona College as a Posse Scholar in the 2018 Fall. She has always had a love for art and artistic expression. As an artist, she works with all ranges of mediums, though has recently begun focusing more on graphic design. She is also devoted to social justice and action. Most recently, she took charge and co-lead a city-wide student walkout against gun violence. Alexa is ecstatic about working and gaining experience at Greater Good Studio as she feels like it’s the perfect place for her passions to intersect and grow.

Pissed off about: The disparate Chicago Public Schools funding system
Optimistic about: The power and potential of human communication and expression
Inspired by: OTOBONG NKANGA

Email Alexa

Wendy Roldan

Summer Research Associate

A Chicago native, Wendy is very excited to be home for the summer working with Greater Good Studio as a research associate to collect materials for our book on social design. Wendy graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering where she discovered the beautiful world of design. Currently, Wendy is pursuing a PhD at the University of Washington, Seattle in Human-Centered Design & Engineering. Her research focus is on making, design, families, and equitable engineering education. When she isn’t thinking about design and contemplating big questions about the world, you can probably find her running or eating ice-cream.

Pissed-off about: Male-dominated fields
Optimistic about: The power of empathetic listening
Inspired by: Her three younger sisters

Email Wendy

Allison Siegel

Designer

Allison’s passion for social impact was ignited as a student working in residential life, where she had the opportunity to learn from a diverse and inspiring group of colleagues, opening up dialogue about identity, privilege, and equity. At the same time, she was studying design and exploring its capacity to inform human thought and behavior. Allison began her career in advertising and now seeks to use her design skills to act upon the inequities she sees in the world. She joined Greater Good Studio in 2017 and is excited about the potential for change rooted in the practice of human-centered design. Allison holds a bachelor’s in Communication Design from Washington University in St. Louis.

Pissed-off about: Being politically correct
Optimistic about: Being inclusive
Inspired by: Understanding the Complexities of Gender by Sam Killermann

Email Allison

Annemarie Spitz

Design Research Lead

Annemarie has always been noticing and making. She officially found her way to design research by both chance and study in architecture and American culture studies (bachelor’s from Washington University in St. Louis) and design for sustainability (master’s from Savannah College of Art and Design.) She has had more jobs than anyone can remember, but her previous work with Habitat for Humanity St. Louis is notable for focusing on engagement and communication with diverse community stakeholders. Annemarie believes that everyone makes choices based on their context, so that’s where we must begin.

Pissed-off about: Equating violence with masculinity
Optimistic about: Gender-neutral bathrooms
Inspired by: Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Email Annemarie

Learn more about how we got our start.