More Than You Want to Know About DK

I’ve been developing ways to get kindergarteners through high schoolers excited and empowered to become productive citizens in our democracy (2009-present). The photo above is the Citizen:Me team during a trip to our nation’s capitol. I am the one with the red scarf. My team mates are (left to right) Sharoz Makarechi, Becky Colley Donna Cordner, and Monica Snellings.

And I co-founded the Greene Hill Food Co-op which, after five years of organizing, has 1225 plus working members, one employee and a 2700 square foot storefront in Brooklyn, New York (2008-present). We can’t live without food. Access to food is the most essential reason we cooperate as citizens. And it’s one of the primary reasons we form and maintain ‘states.’ All Greene Hill members are equal co-owners and actively work to run the store. I led the branding of the Co-op and the marketing team.

I continue to oversee the brand development and implementation for the Greene Hill Food Co-op of which I am a member and co-founder.

I oversee the brand development and implementation for the Greene Hill Food Co-op of which I am a member and co-founder.

We operate by cooperative principles our members vote on and agree to many of which stem from the first coop, The Rochdale Pioneers in Manchester, England now an 8 billion pound cooperative.

Cooperation breeds good ethics, trust and community. It provides security and collective authority for its members.

All my activities have this in common: community and cooperation.

I was editor of Design Issues at Communication Arts magazine which explores thoughtful ideas relevant to design for 23 years I dove into big topics of interest to me (and I assumed my readers) like how we learn; our hopes and fears; and the nature of ethics (see DK’s Books and Articles tab.)

I also serve as an advisor to Civics 101, the podcast of New Hampshire Public Radio. Design Ignites Change and Project M,

I am a regular TEDster and have attended the TED conferences since 1995.

How I got here

I was a partner in a number of graphic design firms including Ross Culbert Holland and Lavery and Lewin Holland (in New York City, from 1983-2001) and going way back, Gorilla Graphics (San Francisco 1970-1978). In between I was the head of the Graphic Artists Guild, the union for graphic designers and illustrators (1978-1983).

From 1995 until 2001 I was a partner in the Pushpin Group, the internationally acclaimed design firm, with designer Seymour Chwast. At Pushpin, I developed and directed the design of many different kinds of projects.

Notably I directed the design of award-winning children’s licensing programs such as Mattel’s Barbie, Dr. Seuss, and Marc Brown’s Arthur, as well as developed the retail branding of Dr. Seuss and Arthur. No one had ever approached licensed product design the way we did, developing visual expressions of the essence of each character: Seeing each from the child’s perception while tapping the most relevant fashion trends. I directed my team in the development of a structure and methodology that, while protecting the property’s integrity, resulted in remarkable (often astronomical) increases in sales for each brand taking Barbie, for instance from 300 million to 1 billion in just a few short years.

I also developed major business to business projects for clients like Citicorp, Bear Stearns. But I also worked with several socially progressive clients during this time: Ben Cohen’s Priorities Campaign (Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities), the Bowery Residents Committee. I worked with institutions including Pratt Institute (rebranding it as simply Pratt), and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM). This was the work I really enjoyed. I was making a difference not adding to the churn.

In 2001 I switched my focus from the promotion of for profit businesses to exclusively working with socially progressive organizations through design. I developed ways to reposition those organizations to have a more positive impact by expressing their missions more clearly and powerfully.

In the process I wrote the book Branding for Nonprofits, Developing Identity with Integrity to help all organizations – large and small – staff, consultants, boards – and designers to understand how effective branding works and how to work together to strengthen a growing organization (first published as a column which I wrote for the Foundation Center in 2002).

While I no longer brand a wide range of nonprofits (narrowing to education-related NPOs), here are some of the clients I worked with to help strengthen their mission and their reach (this included renaming, rebranding or strategy, depending on the need):

Annie E Casey Foundation/Baltimore

A Brooklyn Family Place/New York City

Brooklyn Friends School/New York City

History Colorado/Denver

Communities for Learning/Long Island 

Community Markets/Ossining, New York

Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility/New York City 

Internationals Network

Organization Development Network, New Jersey 

Literacy Assistance Center/New York City 

Nature Discovery Center/Houston

Sisters of Charity of New York/New York City 

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education/New York City

Visionserve Alliance/St Louis

Warnke Community Consulting/New York City 

In addition, I have sat on various boards including that of the Alliance for Nonprofit Governance, New York City (I led the rebranding).  It is now called Governance Matters. Other boards have included Green Map System, Artists in Print, The Hill, Bay Area Lawyers for the Arts, The Graphic Artists Guild and Greene HIll Food Co-op.

Over the course of 40 years, in addition to having nonprofits as clients, I have been a founder, served as an executive director and as a board member as well as chairperson of several NGOs determined to effect change in New York City and San Francisco. I co-founded and was president of Artists in Print, the San Francisco Graphics Guild, The Hill, the Journal of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Wallabout for 25 years and I served two terms as the first president of 100% working Greene Hill Food Co-op.

Students at CCA in San Francisco after a class on ethics that I taught a few years ago

Students at CCA in San Francisco after a class on ethics that I taught a few years ago

My soapbox

IMG_5777Students in the Masters program at Elisava in Barcelona where I was a guest lecturer for several years.










I am the author, editor and/or art director of a dozen books (and many articles) on packaging, marketing and branding (see DK’s Books and Articles tab).

I have a passion for teasing through complicated subjects like neuroscience and decision making,  microbiology and our fear of the invisible, cooperation and the evolution of humans. and of course ethics. From 1990 – 1991, I was honored to work with Fred Friendly, former president of CBS and creator, who, along with Edward R. Murrow, produced See it Now. Fred went on to become professor emeritus at Columbia University and created the PBS series, Ethics in America. Along with a team of top (volunteer) graphic designers, I produced and raised all the funds for a live unrehearsed panel discussion for 18 designers on ethics and business practice moderated by Fred. This resulted in two videos, as well as an ethics game called Where Do You Draw the Line? I worked with a number of designers to create the game, which I published through the AIGA, and traveled around the country playing with groups of designers. Ethics had been made fun and engaging!

In 2002, I hosted an informal conversation series based on my column Design Issues in CA magazine and subsequent book of the same name (see DK’s Books and Articles tab) at the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.  I returned to the Museum in 2006 for similar evening which I called EGO during which I interviewed three National Design Medalists (Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, and Michael Rock). I developed a Tonight Show format for both and included illustrator and sometime stand up comedian, Laurie Rosenwald to start off the evening. The house was packed.

I have conducted a series of workshops for The Foundation Center (2002), the Arts and Business Council and Echoing Green on developing effective brand identities using strategies that foster sustainability for social causes. And, back in my ‘for profit’ days, I also conducted seminars for the design managers of both IBM (Pacific Rim/Hong Kong, 1989) and for Hallmark Cards, Kansas City (1994), on how to successfully work with designers, ethics and the Copyright Law.

I confess I profess

I have served as a judge in many design competitions including, The New York Art Directors Club, AIGA, Applied Arts and The Webby Awards (The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences), Sappi: Ideas that Matter and Design Ignites Change. Besides currently teaching in the MFA programs at Pratt and SVA (the Design in Social Innovation), I have taught graphic design, branding principles and/or ethics as the Hallmark named professor at the University of Kansas (1995) University of Syracuse University (1996, 1997) and Elisava in Barcelona (2008, 2009). The photo below was taken after I taught a class in ethics at CCA in San Francisco (2010).

My honors

In 1999, I was awarded the Walter Hortens Award for Outstanding Achievement in Professional Practice from the Graphic Artists Guild. I have been listed in Who’s Who of American Women since 1978 and Who’s Who in the West since 1980. And I’m included in Richard Saul Wurman’s Who’s Really Who: The 1000 Most Creative Minds in America. I was nominated for the first Do Gooder Award by the Brooklyn Community Foundation in 2010.

My education, such as it is

I graduated from Parsons School of Design / The New School in 1970.

My personal life

My little house (formerly a tack building built in 1800) in Brooklyn, NY. Note trike in driveway.

My little house (formerly a tack building built in 1800) in Brooklyn, NY. Note trike in driveway.

I have lived in Brooklyn, New York since 1983, currently in historic Fort Greene ensconced in an old livery that was built in 1800 but the tack building was rejiggered into an Italianate house in 1855. Horses were once kept where my garden now grows. I have appropriately restored the exterior (since it’s in an historic district) keeping the interior a loft-like environment. It was featured in The New York Times in the Spring of 2010 in an article about houses that don’t look like they belong in the City. It had the unfortunate title Forgotten by Time and Termites. The livery is now a truly wonderful mediterranean taverna called Olea which is, of course, just steps from me. I live in my little house with Billie Holiday and Martha Graham, my two rescue cats.

Other belongings

I was a member of  the AIGA and served on its New York Chapter board. I was a founding member of the Dalai Lama Foundation. I’ve been a member of the TED community since 1995 the same year that I became a convinced Friend, a member of The Brooklyn Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quaker). I serve on MInistry and Council and worship regularly with my Quaker community in silence.

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