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Jessica Meharry

Director of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Associate Professor of Design Management, Columbia College Chicago

Jessica Meharry, sits on colorful cube shaped seating at ID

Jessica Meharry is a designer, researcher, and educator who develops justice-oriented design methodologies for professional practice. An Associate Professor of Design Management and Director of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Columbia College Chicago, Jessica received a PhD from the Institute of Design (ID), an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a bachelor of science from Northwestern University.

Industry Experience

Jessica’s cross-disciplinary research interests focused on designing for equitable economies, strategizing processes that frame equity as an innovation driver, and developing inclusive design management pedagogy. Jessica’s current research projects include the development and testing of an anti-oppressive design framework focused on information and communication technologies. She is also a collaborator on a research project led by Hillary Carey, PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University in which they’re using design methods to explore anti-racist futures in organizational contexts.

In her role as the Director of Academic DEI at Columbia College Chicago, Jessica leads college-wide efforts to transform curriculum and pedagogy through anti-racist frameworks. Jessica’s scholarly research focuses on three intersecting lines of inquiry that explore equitable design methodologies in both practice and pedagogy: anti-oppressive design practices for professional designers; envisioning anti-racist futures through design methods; and equity-oriented experiential education within design pedagogy and curricula.

Jessica has more than 20 years of experience in managerial roles in design, marketing, and communication. She actively maintains an award-winning creative practice of graphic design projects, for both personal explorations and professional clients.

Speaking and Publishing

In addition to her industry experience, Jessica has presented, exhibited, and published her scholarly and creative work nationally and internationally. She was a keynote speaker at the Design Management Institute’s Diversity in Design Conference (2020) and recently received a 2017 AIGA Design Educators Community Faculty Research Grant. She is currently co-writing the book, Working with Design Clients: Tools and Advice for Successful Partnerships, to be published by Bloomsbury in late 2023.

Selected Work

Meharry, Jessica and Hillary Carey. 2021. “Designing Against Oppression: A Conceptual Framework for an Anti-oppressive Design Praxis.” In Proceedings of the Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium, Delft, Netherlands.

Jacobs, Jessica. “Designing Equitable Futures.” dmi: Review 31, no. 3 (2020): 30-36.

Jacobs, Jessica. “Managing the Creative Process Within Graphic Design Firms: A Literature Review.” Dialectic 2, no. 1 (2017): 155-178.