How can we create change for the better? In this virtual workshop and conversation with Sasha A. Alston, Emily Bryson and Craig Wilkins, participants will be challenged to think big about how we can make the world a safer place. From remote learning and adjusted workplaces to diversifying teams, designers at all stages of their careers are thinking big about the design process and how they can make an impact in their communities—and you can, too!

Join Cooper Hewitt educators, emerging designers, and professionals in the field for an interactive experience as they share stories, processes, strategies, and problem-solving mindsets that address the role of design in two pandemics—COVID-19 and systemic racism.

Recommended for ages 13+.

featured panelists

Designer and author, Sasha A. Alston.Sasha A. Alston is the author of the groundbreaking children’s book, Sasha Savvy Loves to Code. Sasha Savvy Starts it Up is the second book in the series with a focus on entrepreneurship. Sasha is a well sought-after speaker who encourages youth to explore educational and career opportunities in STEM. She has appeared on Good Morning America, been featured in Forbes, Huff Post, the Atlantic, and Black Enterprise. She has inspired girls to dream big in Disney, Google, Snapchat, Amazon, & Facebook initiatives and won several awards for her outstanding accomplishments. A 2020 graduate of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business with a degree in Information Systems, she is also the Founder & CEO of Sasha Ariel Ventures LLC. Currently she resides in Washington, DC. Sasha was a guest speaker during the 2019 Design Career Fair.

Headshot of designer, Emily Bryson.Emily Bryson is an industrial design student in her junior year at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. Emily and Natasja Enriquez are the winners of the 2018 High School Design Competition. Their winning design, “Art-Share,” was a tactile art-making tool kit for blind or visually impaired individuals. Emily is interested in inclusivity in design and her concepts are often informed by meeting others and learning about their unique perspectives and experiences. Emily is inspired by the connections that are established with communities and users, as well as nature’s natural ability to create solutions. Emily recently completed an internship in packaging design and is interested in applying sustainable materials into packaging. She hopes to carry these aspirations into her final years of college.

Headshot of architect, academic, and author, Craig Wilkins.Craig L. Wilkins is an architect, academic, and author recognized as one of the country’s leading scholars on African Americans in architecture. He is the former director of the Detroit Community Design Center and a lecturer at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Both his creative practice and pedagogy are informed by the long, rich, yet relatively untold stories of people of color in both the physical and symbolic construction of America. At multiple levels across diverse platforms, his award-winning books, chapters, essays, and design interventions recover and present the rich social, cultural, political, historical, and aesthetic contributions of oft-ignored people and practitioners of color for professional and public engagement. Craig is the 2017 National Design Award winner for Design Mind.


This free program will be hosted through Zoom, with the option to dial in as well. Details will be emailed to you upon registration. CART captioning will be provided. Please reach out to us with any information on how we can support your participation, and with requests for services by emailing


This program is being held as part of Cooper Hewitt’s NDA Cities program, connecting National Design Award winners with communities around the country. Find out about additional virtual education programs in Detroit:


This event is an official part of the Detroit Month of Design. 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the festival which takes place September 1-30. Programmed by Design Core, Detroit Month of Design is a citywide celebration of creativity that gathers designers and the greater community to celebrate Detroit’s role as a UNESCO City of Design.


NDA Cities is made possible by generous support from Siegel Family Endowment and Target.