Ashleigh Axios is an international speaker, strategic creative, and an advocate for design's ability to break barriers and create positive social change.




Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

2017 – Present

As a member of the President's Alumni Advisory Council, advise RISD on issues impacting the strategic direction and programmatic initiatives of the College. Acts as an ambassador for the College within broader communities.

Design Exponent


October 2016 – Present

Automattic is a company on a mission to democratize publishing and commerce with products including, WooCommerce, and Jetpack. As Design Exponent, Ashleigh advocates for the value of design, demonstrates skill, and raises the value of design at the company. She lead's The Studio, Automattic's creative hub for marketing, communications, identity, and visual design. She is guiding the formation of the inclusion portion of Automattic’s first design language, Muriel, establishing how inclusion can be a key ingredient for the success of digital products and communications.

She chaired the Design and Exclusion conference.
Read the related Fast Co. Design article.


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.

National Board of Directors, Executive Committee Chair


June 2016 – Present

Determine the mission of AIGA, ensure that the organization continues to operate in the best interest of its members. AIGA members at the Trustee, Design Leader, and Sustaining levels approved Ashleigh's nomination in a slate with five others at a record ninety-nine percent approval.

AIGA, the professional association for design, is committed to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force.

Chair the AIGA Design Conference in Pasadena, California April 4-6, 2019. Supports the Diversity and Inclusion initiative and Task Force. Chairing the Executive Committee of the board.

Ashleigh 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.



Editorial Board Member

Design Observer

October 2016 – February 2019
(2 years+)

Design Observer features news and critical essays connecting design with other disciplines, including: business, politics, science, journalism, music, media, history, and technology. Sourced and featured diverse voices and perspectives from others while actively contributing her own.

The Design Observer editorial board consisted of Sean Adams, Julie Anixter, Doug Powell, Christopher Simmons, 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
(1 year+)

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
(4 years)

Led 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 DotGovDesign School, a new continuing education offering helping sharpen the leadership skills of designers in all areas of government. Directed the DotGovDesign Conference, an annual event for government designers moving into its third year, while increasing community engagement.



May 2011 – June 2016
(5 years+)

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, programming director, and 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
(2 years)

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 (now archived at, 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, 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

Read White House blog posts authored by Ashleigh in this role.

President Barack Obama has departure photos taken with Ashleigh Axios, White House Creative Director, in the Oval Office, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama has departure photos taken with Ashleigh Axios, White House Creative Director, in the Oval Office, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Even in the fast-paced environment of the White House and running such a highly visible website like, she was always able to deliver highly professional graphical work, including the iconic rainbow branding in support of marriage equality and a complete responsive redesign of the entire site. Her work aligned with the strategy, content, and technology aspects to make the products we shipped all the more useful. Her always insightful user-experience input helped our teams reframe our perspective where it should be: on the citizen.

At the time, things like user-centered design and user-experience were largely an afterthought among government websites, but Ashleigh made her great contribution to our larger effort of the product and helped us lead the way for the rest of government to follow.
— Rusty Pickens, Former White House Acting Director, New Media Technologies

Art Director


March 2012 – April 2014
(2 years+)

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.

You couldn’t ask for a better partner on a small and nimble creative team than Ashleigh. She has the strategic vision and experience to generate big concepts and ideas, and the hands-on attitude, talent and skills to actually make them happen — and quickly. Ashleigh is able to juggle multiple projects for multiple stakeholders and make everyone feel like theirs is her top priority, and she made a dramatic difference in the productivity level of our team. She is calm under pressure and always has a smile and a kind word for everyone. Ashleigh is an asset to any organization.
— Colleen Curtis, Former White House Director of Digital Content



2002 – 2013
(11 years)

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


January 2012 – March 2012
(3 months)

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.


Interactive Designer


May 2011 – October 2011
(6 months)

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

Graphic Designer


January 2010 – April 2011
(1 year+)

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
(1 year+)

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


2005 – 2008
(3 years)

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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BFA, Graphic Design


2004 – 2008

Ashleigh was a brilliant student. She was a pleasure to work with for her perceptive, insightful explorations, her depth of inquiry, her thoughtful and caring attitude toward the subject matter and form giving, and as an independent thinker and maker. She often amazed her class and me with her studies to take us via her design into unexpected realm and depth of experience, being at once practical and poetic. I would recommend her enthusiastically to anyone she was looking to work with!
— Thomas Ockerse, Design Professor at Rhode Island School of Design