systems design

Our lives are full of organizations, institutions, and communities. In our food co-ops, the jobs we clock into, or the public library we check out from, we simultaneously exist in and interact with multiple | complex | systems. How many of these systems are built for our uniqueness, our moods, our changing needs, our humanity?

I work with leaders of nonprofits, entrepreneurs in growth stage startups, and movement organizers alike to design infrastructure, programs, and systems that honor the people that engage with them internally and externally. From my years working in tech, I apply product development best practices when designing and managing projects in community engagement, mobilization, and innovation. I use community-based design principles with the explicit and overarching goal that people see themselves and their values in the projects they participate in.

Tools that help me do this:

  • Inclusive and diverse design methods

  • Iterative hypothesis testing

  • Diverse feedback channels

  • User research and personas

  • Defining and a building for an Opportunity/Problem Statement

  • Cross-cultural, intersectional facilitation activities

Case studies

1) nyc bigapps (2016-2017)

DesigNing + Running NYC's Largest Civic Innovation Challenge

COMMUNITY: 800+ innovators, 40+ corporate/municipal/nonprofit partners, 50+ mentors

PROBLEM STATEMENT: How can New Yorkers build the types of solutions would improve the daily lives of NYC youth, seniors, and immigrants?

PROCESS:  In the eighth year of NYC’s largest civic innovation challenge, Kacie worked with Civic Hall Labs to design and execute NYC BigApps 2017.  Through a series of active listening activities (see blog post), Kacie and her team uncovered reoccurring themes that made up real challenges and opportunities for NYC residents.  Applying human-centered design principles to the competition, we led participatory art sessions and collected qualitative research to center the challenge around Access in three challenge areas: how can technology / data be used to improve (1) Access to Transportation, (2) Access to Knowledge, (2) Access to Community for NYC youth, seniors, and immigrants. 

OUTCOME:  Over the course of 4 months, we ran a series of seven workshops for 846 attendees, facilitating lessons and tools of the different stages of product development. This made the product development process accessible to anyone who wanted to test their ideas. Workshop recaps were open sourced in blog posts. We also facilitated user feedback sessions where teams could get critiques and ideas from NYC youth, seniors, and immigrants. We recruited more than fifty subject matter experts as subject matter advisors on not only product development and design, but also on specific issues faced by youth, seniors, immigrants, as well as open data and policy systems. We then opened the competition for four months and concluded with 150 applications and four winners. See this video summary.

2) workplace equity (2016-2017)

 Click above to watch a brief talk I gave about inclusion in the civic tech space.

Click above to watch a brief talk I gave about inclusion in the civic tech space.

COMMUNITY: A nonprofit startup within the first year of operating

PROBLEM STATEMENT: How we create an inclusive organization that honors the wide-ranging diversity of our future staff?

PROCESS:  I led the development and execution of the a workplace equity strategy across hiring, onboarding and retention channels, implementing it throughout the organization. The plan built shared values and language around what that organization meant by diversity and inclusion and included unconscious bias training for hiring managers. The hiring and onboarding processes where built to make all applicants feel valued throughout the process and all hired personnel feel oriented and supported from day one.

OUTCOME: The organization received 300+ applications and grew in size by 5 within the first year. New staff reported experiencing the best onboarding experience of any organization they had ever been a part of. All staff reported being a part of the most diverse organization.The organization was known in its field as a leader in diversity practices and often reached out to by peer organizations for support.  

3) Canimiz Kamüste (2011-2012)

We talk, we don’t turn away.

COMMUNITY: 1,000 Turkish university students across 8 universities in Istanbul

PROBLEM STATEMENT: How can we create safer university campuses in Istanbul?

PROCESS:  Canımız Kampüste began to tackle street harassment through engaging university students in the discourse surrounding street harassment, particularly the topics of economic autonomy, rape culture, and discrimination. Kacie Lyn Kocher led of a team of lawyers, psychologists, students, and activists in a design process with eight local universities. We created events to match the internal culture of each campus, while streamlining messages on self-esteem building, story sharing, identifying responses to harassers, and including men in women’s and LGBTQ issues (which conventionally excludes male participation in Turkey).

OUTCOME: Held each semester, these university initiatives included: video and photography campaigns by students, student bloggers, university and workplace safety workshops, panel discussions, Turkish translated film showings (including “Miss Representation” and “War Zone”), student generated art exhibits, and story collections moderated by a psychologist and lawyer. This entirely volunteer run project reached over a thousand students in the first year.