Todd Palmer, Former Executive Director of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, will lead the newly launched DID Collaborative, working to create and foster systemic change in increasing diversity in design across fields
The newly launched Diversity in Design (DID) Collaborative recently named Todd Palmer as its first Director. In his role, Todd will direct the development and implementation of a long-term strategy for the DID Collaborative, which launched publicly last month.
Initiated by MillerKnoll, DID is a group of companies united by a common belief in the critical role that diversity plays in creating strong, impactful businesses and innovations. DID has come together to create and foster systemic change in increasing diversity in design across fields, with the understanding that such change requires commitment, strategic action, and financial support.
As DID’s first Director, Todd will engage across the Collaborative to launch a comprehensive talent pipeline approach that positions a progressive point of view representing DID’s goals. Additionally, Todd will align and lead external engagement plans as DID focuses on partnering with a variety of key stakeholders, including design firms, educators at high school levels, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community leaders connected to Black populations representing DID’s desired talent pool, and a variety of others who will support the advancement of DID’s objectives.
“I’m inspired by DID’s pledge to define pathways to design opportunity through an ecosystem of partnerships reaching across the design sector and connect with young people from communities that have demonstrated great resilience despite a history of disinvestment,” said Todd. “With humility and enthusiasm I join the DID members, advisors, and growing constellation of allies in this work to build a new framework that reshapes the impact of design in the world by enlarging who is involved in the design conversation.”
Todd brings a rich background to this new role and most recently engaged in advisory work with a range of policy-making entities, nonprofit organizations, planning and design firms, and public space advocates, each focused on strategies that meet the societal and ecological demands of the present moment. With over two decades of experience working on a variety of programs, iterative learning processes, and in the construction of impactful narrative environments, a common attribute of Todd’s work is that it centers the concerns and visions of communities of color in the public sphere.
“On behalf of all the DID member companies, I am excited to welcome Todd to the DID Collaborative,” said Andi Owen, President and CEO of MillerKnoll. “He has an extensive background leading purpose-driven initiatives, with an unrivaled focus on making positive change for underrepresented communities, and I’m eager to have him on board to help us shape DID as we work to make a demonstrable change in the design industry.”
As the former Executive Director of the Chicago Architecture Biennial Todd led a start-up design platform becoming a recognized force for collective local benefit, with global reach. Todd’s leadership resulted in leveraging the Biennial Board of Directors to tap an all-people of color artistic leadership team for its 2019 efforts. Through cultivating partnerships with cultural institutions, professional organizations, government bodies, corporate social responsibility sponsors, and grant-making funders, Todd was able to bridge gaps between international design discourse and grassroots needs.
Todd is a designer and graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in Architecture: History and Theory from Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. He has a master’s degree in Architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in New York. Todd also received training in North Park University Axelson’s Center for Non-Profit Management where he received a certificate.
Visit www.diversityindesign.com to learn more about DID.