Ashleigh Axios is an international speaker, strategic creative, and an advocate for design's ability to break barriers and create positive social change.
September 2019 – Present
Open City Advocates
August 2016 – Present
Advise on design and digital strategies to help Open City Advocates fulfill their mission of providing zealous individualized representation and mentorship of children sentenced by DC's juvenile court system and acting as catalysts for systematic improvements to the juvenile justice system.
President-Elect, National Board of Directors
June 2016 – Present
Determine the mission of AIGA, ensure that the organization continues to operate in the best interest of its members. Supports the Diversity and Inclusion initiative and Task Force. Chairs the Executive Committee of the board.
AIGA, the professional association for design, is committed to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force.
Secured the majority board vote to serve in the role of President of AIGA starting in July 2020; to lead as the fifty-fifth president — first Black person and sixth woman — to the position in the organization’s more than 105-year history.
Chaired the multi-day AIGA Design Conference in Pasadena, California April 4-6, 2019.
Member of the 2019 AIGA Awards Committee, responsible for reviewing nominations, verifying candidate eligibility, and presenting a slate of nominees to the board for a majority board approval.
In 2016, chaired AIGA's national Racial Justice by Design efforts, exploring the role of design and designers in fighting racial inequities that exist in our systems, communities, the design industry, and in individual designers.
Head of The Studio
October 2016 – April 2019
Established The Studio, the company’s (fully remote) in-house creative agency for marketing, communications, and brand identity solutions. Crafted practices and operational structures to ensure timely delivery of quality creative solutions within budget. Developed partnerships throughout the marketing division and across Automattic’s products and services. Mentored and guided project teams in creating product identities, telling compelling customer and product stories, and connecting customers to solutions. Built a positive team culture across timezones, borders, and over long distances.
Automattic is a company on a mission to democratize publishing and commerce so that anyone with a story can tell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world — with products including WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and Jetpack.
Oversaw the WordPress.com brand redesign, brand book, and first through-the-line campaign
Headed up the newly-established Emotional Design Practice by defining process, coaching designers, developing programming, and supportinga vision for better consistency between marketing and product
Chaired Design and Exclusion, an online conference where designers and technologists spoke of many industry failures in creating inclusive experiences and shared tips for doing better
Read the related Fast Co. Design article.
Advised on company inclusion practices and launched a highly-trafficked, open-source guide to creating more inclusive design solutions
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
2017 – 2019
Served as chief alumni advisors to the RISD President, Rosanne Somerson, and her Cabinet. As a member of the President’s Alumni Advisory Council, advised RISD on issues impacting the strategic direction and programmatic initiatives of the College. Acted as an ambassador for the College within our broader communities.
Served with esteemed RISD graduates:
Lindsey Adelman, lighting designer and entrepreneur (NY)
Ilene Chaiken, award-winning writer and producer (CA)
Donald Wun Hing Choi, award-winning architect (Hong Kong)
Ryan Cunningham, award-winning producer and co-owner of Running Man (NY)
Yvonne Force Villareal, Art Production Fund (NY)
Mike Glancy, artist and faculty of RISD's Jewelry and Metalsmithing Department (MA)
Anthony Grant, private art dealer and consultant (NY)
Jill Greenberg, internationally renown artist and photographer (NY)
Michael Koch, Creative Director of LA Mills (CA)
Mary Murphy, VP of Design at Maharam (NY)
Mike Neff, product designer and artist at LightStep (CA)
Krista Ninivaggi, Founder of interior design firm, K&CO (NY)
Michael Rock, Founder of 2x4 (NY)
Marie-Louise Scio, Founder and EVP of MLScio Consulting (Rome)
Ian Stell, artist and designer (NY)
Rex Wong, Executive Director and deputy CEO at KS Group (Hong Kong)
James Wynn, CMO at Oxeon Partners (NY)
Editorial Board Member
October 2016 – February 2019
Sourced and featured diverse voices and perspectives from others while actively contributing her own.
Design Observer features news and critical essays connecting design with other disciplines, including: business, politics, science, journalism, music, media, history, and technology.
The Design Observer editorial board included Sean Adams, Julie Anixter, Doug Powell, and Christopher Simmons as well as Design Observer co-founders Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut.
Ashleigh’s piece, "To Be a Design-Led Company," is featured in the anthology, Culture if Not Always Popular: Fifteen Years of Design Observer.
December 2016 – February 2018
Through Leadfully, taught emerging leaders at companies like Nike, SY Partners, and Planned Parenthood how to develop optimism, humanity, authentic communication, and creativity capabilities so that they can tap into their full potential as skilled leaders.
Founder, Conference Director, Committee Lead
September 2013 – 2017
Co-founded and co-led DotGov Design, an initiative aimed at connecting and empowering government designers, improving U.S. government design standards, and drawing talent to the public sector. Co-led the DotGov Design School, a new continuing education offering helping sharpen the leadership skills of designers in all areas of government. Founded and directed the DotGov Design Conference, an annual event for government designers, while increasing community engagement.
AIGA WASHINGTON, D.C.
May 2011 – June 2016
Managed the directors of programming, communication, education, mentoring, the Design Continuum Scholarship, membership, and the AIGA 50 competition and gala to create programs for the local design community, support the future of design, create lasting local partnerships, and spotlight great design from the region. Prior to the role of president, Ashleigh served as the chapter’s vice president and sponsorship chair, co-programming director, and as a programming coordinator.
AIGA Washington, D.C. is one of the largest and most active AIGA chapters in the United States.
Secured more than $50K in sponsorship funds
Revamped the chapter communications strategy
Creative Director, Digital Strategist
The Obama White House
April 2014 – April 2016
Determined the best ways to visually represent the White House and Obama brand. Led and managed the White House design team. Made policy relatable and plain language. Improved the White House public-facing platforms with a human-centered design approach. Created opportunities for engagement between the administration and the public. Communicated the priorities of the administration via digital channels. Showed the public who the President is and what motivates him. Advocated for design’s abilities to create change in the public sector. Balanced projects around the news-of-the-week and -day with longer-term and large-scale campaigns.
Redesigned WhiteHouse.gov (now archived at ObamaWhiteHouse.gov), taking the platform to modern, responsive standards
Digital strategy, product direction, and design for the 2015 and 2016 State of the Union addresses, engaging online audiences in new and compelling ways
Redesigned the We the People platform (Obama White House archived version at Petitions.ObamaWhiteHouse.Archives.gov), vastly improving the experience of petitioning the White House for more than 5 million visitors each month
Created a digital catalog of the Obama administration's achievements (now here)
Created the rainbow White House iconography, celebrating the historic Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the U.S. in a way that allowed for mass public participation in Washington, DC and across the globe
THE Obama WHITE HOUSE
March 2012 – April 2014
Provided visual direction, digital strategy, graphic design, content strategy, information graphics, web design, illustration, and more for the Obama administration. Worked alongside the White House Creative Director to advise on design solutions for various White House policy offices. Created the majority of the social media designs, intended to: inform the public about the policies of the White House, humanize the president, reach Americans where they are, and initiate engagement with the administration. Formulated, designed, and sometimes built digital campaigns for major White House policy priorities, spanning across web and social platforms.
Created animated videos explaining complex policy in easy-to-understand, bite-size, and sharable means
Branded the first-ever White House Maker Faire, celebrating making the U.S. a nation of makers
Branded President Obama's campaign to fight Climate Change, complete with a comprehensive interactive infographic, in use for more than 4 years
Designed and maintained an online hub of sharable White House content
Created the cover designs for the 2013 and 2014 United States budgets
Created the first-ever White House Tumblr page and President Obama's Facebook page
Ashleigh Axios was later promoted to Creative Director at the White House. See the above section for information about the following two years at the White House.
2002 – 2013
Designed a range of print, web, and interactive experiences for diverse clientele such as: American University, Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, GMMB, Vanguard Technology Corporation, AIGA DC, and National Wildlife Federation.
Online Editorial & Engagement
NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION
January 2012 – March 2012
Content strategy, online marketing, project management, and user experience design.
Ashleigh's time at NWF was cut short when she was offered and accepted a role at the White House.
May 2011 – October 2011
Conceived and designed interactive media for museums and public-facing industries focused on education and entertainment.
Strategized and designed eight interactive exhibits for the The Henry Ford Museum's Driving America permanent exhibit on the influence of the automobile on American culture
Designed part of the Hitler Letter interactive exhibit, on permanent display in the Museum of Tolerance's extensive Holocaust section
January 2010 – April 2011
Connected donors to nonprofits and strengthened communications and brand recognition for each of the company's clients. Involvement with print and web projects included: research & analysis, strategy, design, development, testing, implementation, training, and documentation. Mediums included: websites, brochures, logos, branding campaigns, and illustrations.
Designer, Account Executive
September 2008 – December 2009
Developed ideas, designs, and layouts for print and interactive media. Met with clients and client affiliates to deliver presentations, pitches, and provide guidance during the course of a project or project transition. Managed the hiring process of design interns and directed their schedules once they were hired. Supported such client accounts as AT&T, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Novartis, and Visa Inc.
Designer, Student Development Manager
RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN (RISD)
2005 – 2008
Trained and organized more than thirty students in successful year-round fundraising efforts and aided the school's development with design and organizational responsibilities.
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