Can you explain a little bit about the type of work you do here at Cooper-Hewitt?
I am the Grants Manager in the Development/Institutional Giving Department. I work on fundraising for all of our education programs—from pre-literacy programs for toddlers to adult public lectures and workshops. I research potential new funders, write proposals and reports, and manage the grant processing when the funds come in. I also work to keep our donors updated on all of Cooper-Hewitt’s exciting programming.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Writers block and tight deadlines—particularly the intersection of the two.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I sincerely believe in the proven benefits of design-based learning experiences for people of all ages, especially children. Seeing our programs in action and knowing I had a part in making them happen is incredibly rewarding.
How would you describe design? What is good design? Bad design?
Design is a problem-solving process that keeps the end user in mind. Good design is a sigh of relief! It makes it easier to be human. Bad design is something that is frustrating to use or navigate, particularly if it doesn’t even look good.
How has the renovation either opened new doors or posed new challenges for you?
We have wide range of off-site programming going on while the Museum is under renovation, so it opens up a lot of funding opportunities for me to look into and gives me a lot to share with our current funders. For example, our Cooper-Hewitt Design Center education space in Harlem has served over 10,000 people since its May 2012 opening!
Looking forward, what are you most excited about once the museum reopens?
Sharing years of hard work and planning efforts with the public. And the garden reopening.
What is your favorite Cooper-Hewitt exhibition to date? Why?
The Triennial—I learned something new each time I went through the exhibition. I’m also very partial to the Selects Series—I love seeing how different individuals interpret our vast permanent collection.
What was the most memorable moment for you at Cooper-Hewitt?
Aside from the first time I went through the “Staff Only” doors from the galleries? We had a staff party in the Mansion right after it was closed to the public. We worked in teams on a hands-on design challenge to build gingerbread houses. Not only was it a riot, it felt really special to be the last ones in the galleries before the renovation—I really felt like I was a part of the big changes coming to Cooper-Hewitt.
What is the future of design?
I can't wait to find out! We are working to foster a generation of young designers that understand that design is all around them and has an impact on their everyday life. I am beyond impressed with the accomplishments of the NYC public high school students in our Cooper-Hewitt Scholars program and they are just beginning their design careers.
Finally, if you could redesign anything, what would it be?
For the longest time I said the ice tray, but now they have those brilliant silicone ones. Probably the beach chair—backpack straps are a good start, but there has to be a way to make that thing more portable.