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Keynotes & Special Programming

Daily keynotes and special programs were presented onsite at NeoCon and are now available on demand on the NeoCon Hub

2022 Keynotes

Between Art and Design
Nick Cave, Artist | Bob Faust, Principal and Creative Director, Faust | Moderated by Cheryl S. Durst, EVP and CEO, IIDA

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst moderated a dynamic conversation with Nick Cave and Bob Faust about the art of collaboration, hybrid practice, and the design of life. For almost three decades, internationally renowned, Chicago-based artist Nick Cave has been working at the intersection of sculpture, installation, sound, performance, and film to address pressing societal issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and class. As a creative, activist, educator and community-builder, Cave often activates and engages the public sphere as part of his artistic practice. Bob Faust, Nick’s partner and design collaborator, is the Principal and Creative Director for Faust, a Chicago-based art and design studio with a focus on cultural articulation. He has been described as “part artist, part designer and part mediator.” Together, Nick and Bob launched Facility—a multi-disciplinary, multi-use collaborative space in Chicago, where art and design can foster peace, build power, and create change.


Nick Cave is an artist, educator and foremost a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance.

Cave is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body, initially created in direct response to the police beating of Rodney King in 1991. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment. They serve as a visual embodiment of social justice that represent both brutality and empowerment.

Throughout his practice, Cave has created spaces of memorial through combining found historical objects with contemporary dialogues on gun violence and death, underscoring the anxiety of severe trauma brought on by catastrophic loss. The figure remains central as Cave casts his own body in bronze, an extension of the performative work so critical to his oeuvre. Cave reminds us, however, that while there may be despair, there remains space for hope and renewal. From dismembered body parts stem delicate metal flowers, affirming the potential of new growth. Cave encourages a profound and compassionate analysis of violence and its effects as the path towards an ultimate metamorphosis. While Cave’s works are rooted in our current societal moment, when progress on issues of global warming, racism and gun violence (both at the hands of citizens and law enforcement) seem maddeningly stalled, he asks how we may reposition ourselves to recognize the issues, come together on a global scale, instigate change, and ultimately, heal.

Bob Faust
is the principal and creative director for Faust, a Chicago-based art and design studio with a focus on cultural articulation. He is also the partner and design collaborator of artist Nick Cave. Together, the two recently opened a dynamic, multi-use creative space in Chicago called Facility. As an entity, it believes that art and design can create peace, build power, and change the world ... that by fostering an environment and community built from your dreams you will wake up daily within your destiny.

NewCity magazine honored Faust as "Best Breakthrough Design Artist" in 2017 and followed up in 2020 naming he and partner Nick Cave "Designers of the Moment." He has also been recognized as a design leader nationally and internationally by publications and institutions such as Communication Arts, NBC5 Chicago, the Society of Typographic Arts and Under Consideration. Faust also serves on the Cultural Advisory Council for the City of Chicago, as well as the Committee on Design for the city's Department of Planning and Development. Other positions he currently holds are on the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Board of Directors and the School of the Art Institute’s Fashion Council.

Cheryl S. Durst
is an exceptional communicator, innovator, and visionary leader who has spurred progress, driven change, and encouraged the expansion of the interior design industry.

As the Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Interior Design Association, known as IIDA, Cheryl is committed to achieving broad recognition for the value of design and its significant role in society through both functionality and engagement in every day workspaces and the built environment. With 15,000 members across 58 countries, Cheryl oversees the strategic direction of IIDA, curates and publishes Perspective, the association’s award-winning design journal, and manages a team of 25 professional staff members.

Cheryl extends her support of arts and culture through volunteerism and is a Trustee for Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art; and the NYSID. She has been referred to by Interior Design magazine as “an ambassador for innovation and expansion, and a visionary strategist.” Citing her leadership in the industry, Cheryl was inducted into the prestigious Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2016 as the recipient of its first-ever Leadership Award. She is the first African American woman to be inducted into the industry’s Hall of Fame.

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Presented by
  • IIDA Logo

Bruce Mau on Design
Bruce Mau, CEO & Co-Founder at Massive Change Network

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

Designer, author, educator and artist Bruce Mau is a brilliantly creative optimist whose love of thorny problems led him to create a methodology for life-centered design. Across thirty years of design innovation, he’s collaborated with global brands and companies, leading organizations, heads of state, renowned artists and fellow optimists. His work and life story are the subject of the feature-length documentary, “MAU,” scheduled for North American theatrical release this year. In these times of complex, interrelated challenges, Bruce believes life-centered design offers a clear path towards identifying the full context of our problems and developing innovative, sustainable, and holistic solutions.


Bruce Mau is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Massive Change Network (MCN), a global design consultancy based in the Chicago area. Across more than thirty years of design innovation, Bruce has worked as a designer, innovator, educator and author on a broad spectrum of projects in collaboration with the world’s leading brands, organizations, universities, governments, entrepreneurs, renowned artists, and fellow optimists.

To create value and positive impact across global ecosystems and economies, Mau evolved a unique toolkit of 24 massive change design principles — MC24 — that can be applied in any field or environment at every scale. The MC24 principles underpin all

Bruce’s work — from designing carpets to cities, books to new media, global brands to cultural institutions, and social movements to business transformation — and they are the subject of his book, Mau: MC24, Bruce Mau’s 24 Principles for Designing Massive Change in Your Life and Work. Books are central to Bruce’s purpose of achieving and inspiring understanding, clarity, and alignment around visions of a better future. He has also written the books Massive Change, and Life Style, as well as The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, a forty-three point statement on sustaining a creative practice. Bruce co-authored the landmark architecture book S, M. L, XL with Rem Koolhaas; The Nexus: Augmented Thinking for a Complex World –The New Convergence of Art, Technology, and Science, with Julio Ottino, dean of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering; The Third Teacher with OWP/P Architects and VS Furniture; and Spectacle with David Rockwell. He has collaborated with clients on the development and design of more than 200 books, including Art Gallery of Ontario, Claes Oldenburg, Douglas Gordon, Frank Gehry, Gagosian and Getty Research Institute, James Lahey, Mark Francis, and Zone Books.

Bruce’s work and life story are the subject of the feature-length documentary, “MAU,” scheduled for North American theatrical release in 2022.

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Presented by
  • ASID Logo

Design: Sustain-Ability
Shashi Caan, Founding Partner, SC COLLECTIVE | Joined by Peter Exley, Co-Founder, Architecture is Fun

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

With her extensive international work experience, Shashi Caan is a multicultural designer, educator and author. In her leadership roles with a roster of global clients, institutions, and firms, she has focused on meaningful improvement of life quality as shaped by design. Often described as a futurist and visionary, she has a keen interest in the foundational development for the design discipline to address current societal challenges. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has been conferred international, regional, and national professional fellowships from the IFI-the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers, Latin America, Australia, the UK, and the US. Peter Exley, co-founder of Architecture is Fun and 2021 AIA National President, joined Shashi in conversation.


Shashi Caan is a distinguished thought leader for architectural design internationally. As a practitioner, design educator and author, her dedication to furthering human betterment through and by design is reflected in her 25+ year design career.

Co-founder and leader of THE SC COLLECTIVE (2002), the inventively structured firm, Shashi is also the Co-founder and President of Globally We Design – GloWD (2015), an independent design futures think-thank, through her ReDesignEd Educators Forum facilitated the Universal Design Education Charter in 2018 and The Johannesburg Declaration in 2019. Shashi was formerly Associate Partner and Design Director with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), in New York and Chair of the Interior Design Department at Parsons, the New School for Design.

In her volunteer service within the design industry, Shashi also serves as the Chief Executive Officer on the Executive Committee of International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) Executive Board. She is a former two-term President for the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) and has been recognized as a Fellow of IFI and Fellow of Royal Society of the Arts, UK. She holds honorary fellowships from the Australian Institute of Designers, the British Institute of Interior Design, the Ibero-Americano Council of Design, as well as the American Society of Interior Design. Amongst others, her past volunteer and executive board level service includes the US International Interior Design Association (IIDA), NY’s Interiors Committee of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the United Nations Association (UNA).

She was Contract Magazine’s US Designer of the Year (2004), granted the Golden Seat Architectural Master Award of China (2012), and appointed JDP Design Ambassador to Japan (2013), this amongst her many awards and accolades for design projects and design leadership across the world. With countless published writings, her seminal book, Rethinking Design and Interiors: Human Beings in the Built Environment (2011), has been translated into multiple languages.

Peter Exley, FAIA, has established an internationally recognized practice of architecture for children, families, and communities, elevating the standards of design for learning and play environments. He is the co-founder of Architecture Is Fun, a Chicago-based, woman-owned architecture, design, and consulting firm. Dedicated to helping the next generation of architects, Peter has also been an adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for more than 25 years. He led the American Institute of Architects as its 97th President in 2021. The eponymous book, Architecture Is Fun, co-authored with Sharon Exley, was published in 2021.

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Presented by
  • AIA Chicago

2022 Special Programming

Special Programming
theMART 2.0: A New Era
Todd Heiser, Managing Director and Principal, Gensler | Lily Diego, Design Director, Gensler

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

Gensler is collaborating with theMART to imagine an exciting future for the building. theMART has long been at the center of creativity and commerce in the city, and this session, led by Gensler’s Todd Heiser and Lily Diego, will explore its evolution as it takes on a new relevance to best serve the design and business communities of Chicago and beyond. Key areas of focus in the design plan are the first and second floors of theMART; as the nexus of activity where the public, conference goers, and tenants intermingle, the design will encourage and reflect this confluence while respecting the legacy of the storied building.


Todd Heiser is a Co-Managing Director of Gensler’s Chicago office. His leadership showcases more than 20 years of experience in next-generation design at the cutting edge of workplace strategies, and his commitment to conceptual and technical development transforms spaces for clients around the globe. Todd’s design process champions partnership with his clients, which include Matter, Google, Kohler, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Le Meridien Hotels, and Nickelodeon. He is also a major design voice in reimagining Chicago’s Willis Tower. Todd’s architectural background and visceral, experience-based interiors integrate materials, planning, and client-focused detailing. Todd was named Contract magazine’s 2016 Designer of the Year and Interior Design magazine’s 2015 HiP Leader for Workplace. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture and a bachelor’s degree in interior design. He also received the Henry Adams Medal from the AIA.

Lily Diego is a Design Director and Regional Office Buildings: Repositioning and Landlord Services Leader in Gensler’s Detroit office. Lily brings over 25 years of experience directing design for projects spanning workplace, community, and office building repositioning and development. Her creative curiosity is fueled by the evolution of the user, uncovering innovative and adaptive future-forward ways of experiencing space and place. Lily’s tenacity and dedication to excellence has earned her the trust and respect of her community and clients, including automotive consumer goods, emerging technology and professional services companies, and developers such as Ford, Volkswagen, and Olympia Development, among others.

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Special Programming
IIDA Equity Roundtable
Ronnie Belizaire, FIIDA, Vice President, JLL | Jon Otis, IIDA, Founder and Principal, O|A (Object Agency) | Amy Storek, Ind. IIDA, CEO of the Americas, Arper | Moderated by Cheryl S. Durst, EVP and CEO, IIDA and Monae Redmond, Director of Member Services, IIDA

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

IIDA has long supported and led the industry in the promotion of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and in the Spring of 2022 launched the IIDA Equity Council. CEO and EVP of IIDA, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA and IIDA’s Director of Member Services, Monae Redmond conducted a roundtable discussion with leading voices from the council about bringing EDI to life— having open conversations, creating actionable goals, and implementing real change at work and personally.

Equity Council Co-chairs:

Ronnie Belizaire, FIIDA, Vice President, JLL; Jon Otis, IIDA, Founder and Principal, O|A (Object Agency); Amy Storek, Ind. IIDA, CEO of the Americas, Arper

Council Members:

Marivel Ansera, IIDA, Senior Interior Designer, HGA; Naheed Jahid-Rahman, IIDA, Senior Manager of Portfolio and Transaction, Global Real Estate, AT&T; Julia Monk, FIIDA, Hospitality Thought Leader, Architect, Interior Designer; Karen Muraoka, FIIDA, Principal/Senior Interior Designer, Karen Muraoka Interior Design LLC; Megan Plante, Ind. IIDA, A+D Market Manager, OFS; Christine Peter, Ind. IIDA, Owner, Kaleidoscope; Tom Polucci, IIDA, Firmwide Director of Interior Design, HOK; Derek Jayson Rusch, Assoc. IIDA, Distribution Development Manager, Infinium; Robina Sheperd, Assoc. IIDA, Senior Project Designer, OTJ Architects

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Presented by
  • IIDA Logo

Special Programming (This workshop will not be live-streamed)
ESG Onsite Workshop: How to Design for Climate, Health & Equity in Every Project
Susan Suhar, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, WELL AP, FitWel Amb., Interior Design Principal, HDR | JoAnna Abrams, CEO, MindClick

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Net zero carbon emissions, circularity, ESG, regenerative design. Client expectations are changing. Is your team prepared? Design practice and firm leaders joined MindClick and HDR for a hands-on workshop to learn how to support their clients’ ESG goals through design, gain access to design decision tools their entire team can use, and promote their firms’ expertise to win business. Please note this workshop was not live-streamed and is not available on the NeoCon Hub.


JoAnna Abrams, Founder and CEO MindClick, is an award-winning leader, entrepreneur, and strategist with a deep passion for using the power of data analytics to build a better planet. Her knowledge and expertise drive MindClick to empower organizations with the necessary product intelligence to design a healthier world.

Abrams leads a rapidly growing team dedicated to advancing environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies in the built environment and beyond.

A gifted and in-demand speaker, Abrams is a leading voice in sustainability, ESG, and corporate leadership strategies. She has been named a Hospitality Industry Innovator by Lodging Magazine and an Environment+Energy Leader 100, recognized by Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, Cornell’s Hospitality Research Summit, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, and a recipient of CIO Review Magazine’s 20 Most Promising Supply Chain Tech Solution Providers.

Prior to MindClick, Abrams’ diverse and notable career included strategy, research, and advisory services for Fortune 500 clients, brand management and product development for consumer products leaders including PepsiCo and Nestlé, and continuous performance improvement solutions for Toyota Motor Sales. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in finance from the University of Illinois.

Susan Suhar is an accomplished Interior Design Principal with HDR- Los Angeles. With over 25 years’ experience in commercial design, Susan creates holistic spaces that support and embrace the client’s needs, vision and brand.

As a design leader for the Health, Life Science and Civic markets, Susan’s passion is creating environments that are sustainable, inspiring and contribute to occupant well-being. Her creative process is motivated by the practice of discovery, distillation and definition to inform the overall design concept and story that is woven throughout the spatial experience.

Susan’s interest in health impacts and the built environment started with her pursuit of an Environmental Studies degree at Syracuse University. During this time, she was given the opportunity to work one session for the Washington State Senate as a clerk for the Energy, Water and Agriculture committees. From this experience, she was inspired by the power of design and its effect on a person, community, and the world. Deciding to focus on the impact of interior spaces, occupant well-being and sustainable choices, she changed her course of study to Interior Architecture.

She went on to complete an AAS in Interior Design from the College of DuPage and a BFA in Interior Architecture from the School of the Art Institute Chicago.

Susan has presented seminars on Healthy Flooring, Sensory Design, ESG & Design and Interiors Commissioning. She has also participated in multiple panel discussions on healthcare design and healthy interiors.

In addition to leading the Los Angeles interiors studio, Susan volunteers her time with the LA Business Council, is the city center director for IIDA Southern California – Los Angeles and serves the NeoCon Program Advisory Board.

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Special Programming
Designing for Measurable Impact: ASID Outcome of Design
Royce Epstein, A&D Design Director, Mohawk Group | Alan Almasy, Director, Client Practice Group A+D and CRE, Herman Miller | Rebekah Matheny, Associate Professor of Interior Design, The Ohio State University | Karen McCallum, Senior Director of Design, CBRE Design Collective

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

Attendees learned how to demonstrate interior design’s value by incorporating outcome measures to positively impact people, place, and planet. Interior designers strive to create spaces that elevate the human experience, delivering beneficial outcomes to clients and end users. How do we measure those outcomes to better validate and communicate the value of design? ASID Outcome of Design celebrates sustainable, humancentric, and socially responsible design solutions, providing the tools to measure results and demonstrate return on social, environmental, and financial investment for any type of space or project. Attendees were inspired and empowered to start the conversation around impact and embed ASID Outcome of Design in their projects.


Royce Epstein, Industry Partner ASID, LEED AP is the A&D design director for Mohawk Group. Royce shares her passion and vision for design, cultural trends, and the meaning of materials in a broad context. Her role is to evolve and share Mohawk Group’s design vision with the A&D community, and to leverage product design with what A&D desires. Constantly on the watch for new trends in all aspects of culture, Royce feeds this insight to our industry’s touch points. A veteran materials and product specialist, Royce spent two decades working in A&D firms before Mohawk. She is based in Philadelphia, where she is active in the design, art, and music scenes.

Alan Almasy leads Herman Miller’s strategy for architects and designers in North America. He is successful at doing this by leveraging the knowledge and skills he developed in his architecture and design education and background as well as over 20 years of sales and sales leadership experience focusing on the architecture and design community. Alan is also knowledgeable in the areas of brand design and translating workplace research into product applications that help solve client’s business drivers.

Rebekah Matheny, NCIDQ is an associate professor of interior design in the Department of Design at The Ohio State University. She holds a Masters of Architecture from the University of Oregon where she also received a Technical Teaching Certificate with a concentration in sustainable design strategies. With over a decade of industry experience in retail brand experience design and consumer strategy, Rebekah’s research investigates the emotional connections between people, product, brand purpose, and physical place to create a more environmentally and socially sustainable retail culture.

Karen McCallum, ASID, LEED AP has 18 years of experience as a certified interior designer in the A&D industry since obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from University of Florida. In her current role as Senior Director of Design for the Americas at CBRE Design Collective, she specializes in creating thoughtful and innovative design solutions for her clients. Her design expertise encompasses a variety of solutions in workplace, higher education, and hospitality allowing her to bring a unique perspective to each project. Karen believes that by encouraging a culture of collaboration and creativity across her teams they are able to drive lasting innovation.

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Special Programming
Designing a Better Chicago - Panel Discussion
Moderator: Tanner Woodford, Founder and Executive Director, Design Museum of Chicago | Panelists: Kathy Gregg, Friedman Place | Maya Bird-Murphy, Chicago Mobile Makers | Tariyawn Knighten, The Tilden Pilot to Permanent Design Incubator | Emily Winter, The Weaving Mill | Quilen Blackwell, Chicago Eco House

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  • A recording of this presentation can be viewed on the NeoCon Hub through July 15.

Designing a Better Chicago shined a light on our city’s extraordinary design legacy—the local talent, assets and community that have long supported civic good through design. Launched in 2020 with a Design Impact grant program, this initiative showcases individuals and organizations, public art and programs across the city, inviting residents and visitors to consider the many ways design improves civic life. The 2020 grant winners (Kathy Gregg, Friedman Place and Maya Bird-Murphy, Chicago Mobile Makers), the 2021 grant winners (Tariyawn Knighten, The Tilden Pilot to Permanent Design Incubator and Emily Winter, The Weaving Mill), and the 2022 winner (Quilen Blackwell, Chicago Eco House) held a discussion about their outstanding efforts to design a better Chicago. The panel was moderated by Tanner Woodford, founder and executive director of the Design Museum of Chicago.


Tanner Woodford is founder and executive director of the Design Museum of Chicago. As an artist, he paints optimistic, typographic, and larger-than-life murals. His work has appeared at the WNDR Museum, Soho House Chicago, and is permanently installed at Weber Shandwick in the John Hancock Building. In 2020, Tanner was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council. As a designer, educator, and entrepreneur, he has taught, lectured, and led workshops on design issues, social change, and design history in classrooms and at conferences. Tanner received a Bachelor of Science in Design from Arizona State University in 2009, and returned to teach in 2010. More recently, he teaches Design Thinking For Social Change at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is happy to be scrappy, irrepressibly optimistic, and believes design has the capacity to fundamentally improve the human condition.

Kathy Gregg is a professional fundraiser with nearly 20 years of experience working mainly at organizations that serve our elders and people who are disabled. She has been with Friedman Place for 6 years. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in English and Writing. She uses all she learned to write inspiring mission based stories for major gift proposals, annual appeal and planned giving campaigns, in writing grants and prospect research. She values education, enjoys learning new things, and served as a member of her local school board and various professional organizations. Prior to her career in fundraising Ms. Gregg worked in the financial markets for a decade trading stocks and commodities.

Maya Bird-Murphy is the founder and Executive Director of Chicago Mobile Makers, an award-winning nonprofit organization bringing design-focused skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities. She is also a faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Boston Architectural College. Maya believes that the design field must expand to include more people and perspectives through teaching and community engagement. She loves Chicago and hopes to make her mark by making it a more equitable place to live. Maya was recently featured in Dwell Magazine and was selected as an Experimental Design Lab awardee, an initiative led by Theaster Gates, Rebuild Foundation, and the Prada Group.

Tariyawn Knighten is a Chicago based artist, documentarian, educator and self published author whose work derives from growing up and working on the west side of Chicago. By exploring narratives within the Black American aesthetic, Knighten's view of Chicago creates personal relationships between himself and the subjects he documents through photography.

Emily Winter is an artist and weaver based in Chicago. She is co-founder of The Weaving Mill, an experimental industrial weaving studio that blends design, production, textile education and research-based practice. Her work utilizes material experimentation, functional design, community-based practices, research and publication to explore the intersections of industry, material histories and technology. She earned her MFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BA in History from the University of Chicago. She has received project support from the Center for Craft, the Design Museum of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the City of Chicago, the Propeller Fund and the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught weaving at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Weaving School.

Quilen Blackwell is the president and co-founder of the Chicago Eco House and Southside Blooms which turns vacant city lots into solar powered flower farms on the south and west sides of Chicago and creates jobs for at-risk youth. His work has resulted in over 10 acres of vacant land converted into flower farms, thousands of gallons of rainwater diverted to agricultural use, thousands of watts of solar power generated, and dozens of jobs created for youth. His work has also been featured in Forbes, Good Morning America, the Today Show, the Steve Harvey Show, and many other publications. He is happily married to the co-founder, Hannah Bonham Blackwell, and has three children while residing in the Englewood neighborhood.

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