Community Talks & Holiday Party

Dec 12, 2019 @ 7 p.m. in San Francisco

It's your chance to speak at Designers + Geeks. For our last event of 2019, we're giving you the chance to speak for 5-10 minutes on the topic of your choice. Apply using the link below, and we'll notify you if your talk is selected for the event.

Talks should follow a couple of guidelines:

  • Marketing / sales / recruiting pitches for a specific company are not ideal. Feel free to talk about your work, but spare us blatant pitches.
  • Talks should be 5-10 minutes long, and you can plug your computer in to show slides.
  • Talks will be recorded and posted on our site and YouTube
  • Creativity, trends, interesting hacks, pro tips, entrepreneurship stories, great design – all welcomed!
  • Once you apply, the organizers of Designers + Geeks will take a look and get back to you as quickly as possible. If you have any questions, send an email to info at our domain.

Send a Talk Proposal

Sign up for the newsletter

Katie Kirsch
Designer at IDEO / Co-Founder at Girl Possible

Katie Kirsch is a designer and non-profit founder focused on empowering girls.

As a designer in IDEO’s Play Lab, Katie leverages play to develop engaging programs and experiences, break down taboos, and bring people together.

Outside IDEO, Katie is the co-founder of Girl Possible—a non-profit empowering girls to become leaders of social change through design thinking. Girl Possible first began at the Stanford as a Kickstarter-funded road-trip, where Katie and her team spent 14 weeks driving across the US in an RV, teaching design thinking & leadership workshops for 1500 girls across 32 states. Today, Girl Possible’s teaching toolkits can be found in the hands of 200 educators and organizations across 15 countries. In 2018, the team received a $16k grant to launch Camp Girl Possible, a superhero-themed camp for girls that encourages risk-taking, teamwork, and leadership through design thinking.

Now, Katie is launching 2020 for Girls—a global, year-long initiative for empowering girls through design. Starting in January 2020, Katie will spend 12 months researching the challenges girls face in the reproductive health sector; collaborating with locally-based organizations in Africa, India, and the Philippines to help build upon their work; and exploring ways we might further empower girls and break down taboos through design.

Katie earned her BS in Product Design Engineering from Stanford and loves to host dinner parties, practice yoga, and learn about people’s passions and stories.

Charles Belle
Founder of Startup Policy Lab

Breaking and Building Public Policy by Design: How Designing Information Processes Improved Government Systems

Charles Belle is the founder and Executive Director of Startup Policy Lab (SPL), a nonprofit that seeks to inform better public policy driven by emergent technology. Our mission is to promote innovative, open, and data-driven policymaking. We engage in applied research and organize forums to inform, educate, and empower those that want to craft public policy to support those goals.

Through applied research in law and technology, Charles seeks to ensure government is open, accessible, transparent, and secure. He has worked in open data and privacy, procurement reform, drone policy, and law enforcement data requests. His current research seeks to make the public comment system safe from deliberate attacks and accessible to citizens. Before Startup Policy Lab, Charles was the Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation Law at UC, Hastings, College of the Law, where he also served as the Director of the Privacy Project.

Outside of work, Charles serves as an appointed public member of the City and County of San Francisco’s Committee on Information Technology (COIT). He is also a non-residential Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society and formerly a fellow at UC, Berkeley’s, Center for Technology, Society & Policy. He has received grant support from the Hewlett Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, Knight Foundation, and Sunlight Foundation. Charles has an AB and AM from the University of Chicago, and a JD from UC, Hastings College of the Law.

Charles is currently a candidate for District Three Supervisor in San Francisco.

Christina Newhard
Publisher at Sari-Sari Storybooks

Monsters for Kids: the Making of “Kalipay and the Tiniest Tiktik"

Filipino mythology is still very little known, despite it being as broad and complex as the Greek and Roman pantheons. Sari-Sari Storybooks founder Christina Newhard will talk about the process of adapting the most terrifying monster of Filipino folklore—a fetus-eating viscera-sucker called the tiktik—into the hero of a children’s book.

In this talk with the Designers + Geeks community, Christina will share the process of creating and designing: “Kalipay and the Tiniest Tiktik”. She’ll talk about the failed earlier version of the story, understanding age-appropriate themes, working remotely with Cebu-based design team Happy Garaje to illustrate the book, and how monsters can help us better understand being human.

Christina Buhain Newhard has been fascinated with books since she was five years old. Born in Manila to a Filipina mother and American father, she moved to the U.S. at the age of 10, but always holds the Philippines in her heart. A love for text, image, and story moved her to pursue a career in graphic design. After 20+ years in the industry, she now runs her own design consultancy, Newhard Design, in Oakland. In asking the question, “how can design strengthen Filipino culture in a meaningful way?” Sari-Sari Storybooks was born. The press has since published four titles in four Philippine languages. Sari-Sari Storybooks has received positive coverage from the Nerds of Color, The Seattle Review of Books, Smart Parenting PH, The Aswang Project, The Fil-Am, IndyKids, NBC Bay Area Asian Pacific America, and the Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI. Christina lives in Oakland with two black cats.

Ksenia Benifand
Futurist and Design Strategist

Experiential Futures & Community Resilience on Earth & Beyond

As humanity undergoes a profound societal renewal, we are also on the verge of becoming interplanetary species. This period of massive transition offers an opening, a liminal space, to explore the values and mental models that we are collectively designing our future upon. Based on my personal experience as a community organizer, an experience designer, and an analog astronaut, I will share how humans can re-imagine and manifest new stories about how we choose to live on Earth and explore new worlds beyond.

Ksenia is a social researcher, futurist, and systems designer. Over the last decade, she has been working with multinationals, governments, start-ups, and non-profits connecting strategic foresight work with on-the-ground social impact & behavior change. Her research and work spans across many areas including sustainable development; mental health; community-based healthcare; Circular Economy transition; and community resilience for climate adaptation.

Ksenia has spent her life and professional career navigating liminality - the space between what was and what could be. This has deepened her understating & embodiment of ontological design & the complex interconnections between individuals and their contexts, cultures, and relationships. As a futurist, this has also inspired her curiosity to investigate these dynamics through an embodied speculative futures lens. This inquiry has recently led her to participate in analog astronaut Mars Simulation missions, where diverse multidisciplinary teams are subject to living in isolated, confined, and extreme (ICE) environments. Space is the ultimate unknown, and our attempt to study human behaviors in analog conditions can teach us about our human needs, limitations, and capabilities to adapt to new environments.

Lucy Chen
Lead Product Manager at Exygy

Learning for Life

When you think of learning, what comes to mind? A professor, a classroom, endless practice sets in pursuit of an academic goal? Me, I see learning as a lifelong endeavor-- one that reaches beyond the classroom or campus. Rather than a stepping stone in professional development, I see learning as a fundamental approach to life. In this talk, I'll share my past year of experimentation with dedicated continuous learning and the lessons I've taken away.

A former designer and recovering consultant, Lucy is passionate about creating effortless experiences with meaningful impact. As a Lead Product Manager at Exygy, Lucy leads the design and development of digital products that empower individuals and communities to lead happy, healthy lives. Her specialties include product growth, user research, and UX design. Prior to Exygy, she was a Strategy Consultant at Accenture, focused on product strategy and UX. She is also a former Kiva Fellow and Violet Society alumna. Outside of work, Lucy is continuously immersing herself with new experiences through various workshops, classes, and learning events. She is a graduate of the Berkeley-Haas School of Business.