We are a collective of designers from coast to coast who came together in 2020 to ignite change and bring unity. We celebrate the Black experience and challenge the status quo.

Steffi Reyes-Thomas
2021 Event MC!

Steffi believes that a truly sustainable approach to design must contribute to the evolution of human consciousness. She creates original spaces that are deeply personal. Her expertise lies in combining the best aspects of sustainability, wellness, aesthetic and functionality within the built environment.

Steffi Reyes-Thomas, Founder & Chief, was an early adopter of the  International WELL Building Institute as a WELL AP. She is a Black-Chicana Woman who has been practicing sustainable interior architecture both here in San Diego and in Chicago. She seeks to make Holistic Design accessible to a diverse clientele with the utmost respect to delicate environmental and ecological factors.

Ash Level
Creative, Community partner!

Creative director with an entrepreneurial spirit. Inspired by the creative journey, community, and relationships.

Ash believes that we cannot rely on a non-inclusive, performative ad industry for change. Looking for funding, partnerships, and resources to build Presence to its full potential with the goal to create a workplace that embodies the world we want to live in, instead of replicating this one.

“I am all the buzz words these corporations performatively use.”

connect with her on Linkedin.

Heatherlee Nguyen
Community / Events / Ops!

Heatherlee Nguyen (she/her) is a mom and designer living in St. Paul, MN working at the intersection of UX & Service Design. She’s passionate about empathy building, workshopping and co-creating with the people she designs for. Heatherlee is currently Creative Director of UX at Optum (UHG). In 2020 she launched Black Designers Ignite and is committed to amplifying the platform to celebrate Black Excellence in design and ignite public speaking.  

Heatherlee volunteers for various organizations committed to restorative justice and currently serves as Board Chair of a startup for women of color in tech, Femmecubator. 

Jess McKenzie
Creative, Community partner!

Creative problem solving via design is what fuels my fire. My portfolio includes photography, web and logo design work for small businesses and non-profit organizations across Metro-Detroit.

Samples of my writing can be found on my blog The Creative Armory.

connect with me on Linkedin.

Nana Achampong
Creative, Community partner!

I am a passionate individual who is looking forward to developing and growing more within the non-profit and art + design community. Everywhere I go I bring a smile, a sense of motivation, and positive energy.

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” – Alice Morse Earle.

Connect with me on Linkedin.

Lauren Sloan
Creative, Collaborator / Community!

I am an optimistic and disciplined designer who works well under pressure. I love designing in a way that sticks. I believe it’s important to include details where and when they are needed.

connect with me on Linkedin.

Trae IsaAc
Creative, Collaborator!

Trae is a Detroit native speakin on it with his talk called, Respect the art. I am driven by a genuine passion for manifesting awe-inspiring and psychologically empowering pieces of art. Based on my life as person who has had to find power through loss and peace through discomfort.

Zariah Cameron
Speaker, Community Partner!

I am an optimistic and disciplined designer who works well under pressure. I love designing Zariah Cameron is a Senior Graphic Design student, at North Carolina A&T State University, pursuing a career in UX Design. She enjoys working on projects that relate to amplifying the voices & stories of underrepresented minorities, specifically the black community. She aims to create design concepts that are meant to impact the community and solve problems that would better people’s lives. She is also the founder of the AEI Design Program, an initiative that provides resources and virtual events to prep Black design college students, for the industry.

Omari Souza
Speaker, Community Partner!

Omari Souza is an assistant professor in the Communication Design program at Texas State University. He is the organizer of the State of Black Design Conference (online, April 2021). He previously organized and hosted an multi-panel event titled “The State of Black Design” (online, Sept. 2020), which drew a live audience of 2,071 — the second-largest livestream audience for an academic event in Texas State’s history.

Omari is a first-generation American of Jamaican descent, raised in the Bronx, New York. Before arriving at Texas State, he gained work experience with companies and institutions such as VIBE magazine, the Buffalo News, CBS Radio, and Case Western Reserve University. He earned a BFA in Digital Media from Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA in Design from Kent State University. Omari’s research explores the idea of perceptions and how visual narratives influence culture — how we view ourselves and others around us.

Chanel Powers
Juror / Community Partner!

Chanel is an experienced Chemist and Mathematician furthering her career as a Software Engineer passionate about enhancing the User’s Experience at Apple.During the Pandemic and Civil Uproar of 2020, Chanel founded of Mentor Me, Chanel!, a program that addresses the lack of representation in the tech space by creating undeniably, qualifiable Black Talent within the Black

Community and thus, generating Black Wealth.Chanel’s core values of Empathy, Ambiguity, and Vulnerable Leadership have empowered her to inspire all of those around her & pushes them to confidently build a legacy for their future!