Kenneth Bailey, Sector Organizing and Strategy Lead

Kenneth started his activism in the early eighties as a teenager, working in his neighborhood for tenants’ rights and decent housing, targeting the St. Louis Housing Authority. He went on to work for COOL, a national campus-based student organizing program, and then moved to Boston where he worked for the Ten Point Coalition, Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Third Sector New England, as well as being on the Board for Resource Generation.Most recently he has been a trainer and a consultant, primarily on issues of organizational development and community building. He first realized the need for a more “designerly” approach to community work while developing parts of the Boston Community Building Curriculum for The Boston Foundation. This workshop asked community activists and residents to think about creative ways to work with their community assets – existing social relationships, individual’s gifts and skills, and untapped local resources. Many community residents remained locked in conventional nonprofit approaches to working with community assets. They weren’t obliged to, they just knew no other way. He realized then that activists needed new tools to redesign approaches for community change, which led him to build a design studio for social activism. 

Lori Lobenstine, Program Design Lead 

Lori grew up in a family of community and union organizers, and decided early on that working with youth was her passion and her route to creating change. She has been a youthworker for the past twenty years, in settings as diverse as classrooms, basketball courts, museums and foreign countries. Most recently she has been a Director of Teen Programs for Girls Incorporated of Holyoke, a BEST trainer (teaching youth development concepts to other youthworkers), and a very successful basketball coach. Throughout these experiences, she has struggled with the challenges of creating new designs with youth, in fields that are often top-heavy and funding-driven. As a life-long activist, she is inspired by the vision that new design tools and a greater design awareness will bring new energy and power to our work.Lori is also the impresario of a thriving online and off-line community of female sneaker customizers, collectors, designers and connoisseurs.


Ayako Maruyama, Creativity Lab Design Lead

Inspired by her family, Ayako is dedicated to working in the social and creative sectors. Her path led to DS4SI during a workshop for intercultural planners where Lori and Kenny's presentation on Spatial Justice blew her mind. Upon joining the team as a Design Intern, she assisted in the creation of Action Lab, which was the Design Studio’s first pop-up lab inside a national conference. She studied Industrial Design at Rhode Island School of Design and received a Master of City Planning degree from Boston University. At RISD, she focused on design for social change, creating projects like furniture that played with human postures, and a new design education curriculum to include community engagement and human centered design as part of the pedagogy. Before joining the studio, Ayako worked as a design consultant for Maternova, making informational graphics to assist midwives and doing material sustainability strategy for billboard waste at Lamar Graphics. She is committed to meeting people's needs and enhancing their experience through research and design thinking.


Kiara Nagel

Kiara Nagel has worked for a number of initiatives and organizations, fostering collaboration across boundaries and supporting equitable community development. Her work stems from an exploration of the historical patterns of development and forced displacement and she works to provide space for those most directly affected to be engaged in decision-making about how their places would be shaped, understood and represented. Kiara holds a BA from Hampshire College and a Masters in City Planning from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to her role as fellow at DS4SI, she also serves as faculty at University of Orange, a free people’s university. She is working to design and map mechanisms for supporting linkages between creative placemaking and anti-displacement struggles globally, from New York to New Orleans to Darfur and beyond. 

Najma Nazy'at

Najma Nazy'at is the Director/Lead Organizer of the Boston Youth Organizing Project (BYOP). Najma has worked in youth programs and in the youth development field for over fifteen years. She previously served as a Youth Program Coordinator of the Central Branch YMCA's Teen Center. After the YMCA, Najma served on a team at The Medical Foundation as a lead trainer to usher in the Boston BEST Initiative, a professional development and field building effort that supports Youth Development systematically and institutionally. Najma has consulted and trained nationally with organizations such as the Boston Community Building Curriculum, Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Listen, Inc.

Judith Leemann

 Judith Leemann is an artist, writer, and educator invested in creating objects, texts, and environments that interrupt habitual thinking. She frequently works in collaboration with others and with system-based methods of inquiry, poaching structures from outside of the arts in order to create things that do not behave as proper art objects. She received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Virginia (’93), where she also completed a Fifth Year Fellowship (’94), and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (’04). She has had recent exhibitions in Chicago at the Betty Rymer Gallery and at the Lill Street Art Center, and has taught as a visiting artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.