A focused conversation

LEAP brings together 100 national thought leaders, educators, designers and practitioners from business, international development and social enterprise at Art Center College of Design to address one central issue: the emerging career pathways for designers in the social innovation space.

LEAP intentionally focuses on new and meaningful professional pathways that are being shaped chiefly by organizations, institutions, companies and individuals based in the US. This emphasis reflects the pool of participants convened: their circles of influence and activity include the regional, national and global, but everyone is also firmly grounded within the context of opportunities and limitations arising in our current national economy.




a different kind of convening

LEAP is envisioned as an environment for dialogue and inquiry where every participant is prepared to share insights, reflect on experiences, and be prepared to pose new questions and reframe old answers.

The conversation aspires to be dynamic, exploratory, and honest.

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To LEAP is not to move timidly, but to advance with great determination.

In moments of crisis, we leap into the fray. At moments of opportunity, we leap into action. We leap ahead, into territory rarely familiar, often facing unknown obstacles and unique challenges. Yet we leap — an action made necessary by the impetus to discover, to learn, to realize, to do something.

Those who leap…those with the courage and commitment to be first into the fire…are trailblazers. When we leap into the unknown, we can create a path for others — a roadmap that transforms our initial leaps of faith into a steady march forward for those who would follow.

When the time comes.

When the moment is right.

Sometimes, when we have no other choice.



LEAP Core Programming Team


Art Center staff and faculty, including

Elisa Ruffino, Director, Designmatters

Karen Hofmann, Chair, Product Design

Sherry Hoffman, Faculty, Humanities & Sciences and Lead Program Facilitator, LEAP Symposium

Heidrun Mumper-Drumm, Director, Sustainability Initiatives and Professor

Jennifer May, Manager, LEAP Symposium

Kristine Bowne, Director, Alumni Affairs



LEAP Facilitation Team


Rob Ball, Professor, Environmental Design, Art Center

Liliana Becerra, Faculty, Product Design, Art Center; Design Director, STUDIO LILIANA BECERRA, Inc.

Krystina Castella, Professor, Graduate Industrial Design, Art Center

Jonathan Erwin, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Social Design Fellow

Dan Gottlieb, Associate Professor, Environmental Design, Art Center; Principal, Padlab

Penny Herscovitch, Associate Professor, Environmental Design, Art Center; Principal, Padlab

Liz Ogbu, Scholar-in-Residence, Center for Art and Public Life at California College of the Arts (CCA)

Becky Slogeris, Social Design Associate, at Maryland Institute College of Art and Design (MICA)


LEAP Identity


Ellen Flaherty
Graphic Designer

LEAP Website Design & Development


Carlo Llacar
Art Director / Designer, at Over-Under

Adam Lopez
Interaction Designer, at Rectiform.com






The LEAP symposium would not be possible without the institutional endorsement of the offices of the President and the Provost, and the dedicated efforts and enthusiastic support of Art Center College of Design staff, faculty and students.


The LEAP symposium is made possible in part by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Surdna Foundation, along with our other generous supporters who are inspired by the intersection of design and social innovation.





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