In the spring of 2014 I joined the Washington Center for Equitable Growth as its Design and Multimedia Director. I had decided to leave the journalism world after 16 years. Taking what I had learned about telling stories as a visual journalist I entered the D.C. policy think-tank world. When I joined Equitable Growth it was still a seed organization in a larger policy think-tank staffed with about a half-dozen people. We had a very modest Wordpress page. It was mostly a blog. My first week the managing director gave me two tasks. Design a logo and redesign the website. I chuckled. The logo was a reasonable ask but knowing what I knew about websites and redesigns I knew we had a good deal of work ahead of us.
Five years later we have redesigned twice and saw multiple enhancement sprints to make iterative improvements to the web experience.
Leaving large news organizations where I was normally part of a good-sized creative team and moving to a small start-up minded think-tank, where I found myself as the sole creative talent, took some getting used to. At Bloomberg and USA Today, if I had an idea for doing something there were several layers of approval and defined steps to follow. At Equitable Growth I have been able to experience what it’s like to make a suggestion, get some nods, and then just go do it. In that spirit, I’ve managed one full website redesign from information gathering to launch, helped improve a project management system, assembled a small visuals team, encouraged the development of the in-house, web-based, graphing tool, Playfair, begun a redesign of our print report templates, and started organizing a video effort for social media.
My time at Equitable Growth has allowed me to grow into the role of “Creative Director” handling the wide-ranging responsibilities mentioned above. But it also required me to do not-so-traditional projects like advise on office color schemes and layout, design an organizational fleece, and even hang our product covers and art around the office, gallery-style. All of these accomplishments helped to build Equitable Growth’s brand recognition in both the policy and academic communities.