Zandile Kabayadondo

As the Co-Director of the Design Thinking Initiative at Smith College, Zandile “Zaza” Kabayadondo is leading a $2.5 million pilot program to incorporate design thinking into undergraduate education at Smith. Zaza designed the college’s first prototyping studio and implemented a website that curates learning resources on human-centered design and highlights design projects as they evolve. Since designing the studio two years ago, Zaza has engaged 780 students, faculty, staff, and alumnae including college trustees through programming.

Zaza has been using design thinking to tackle “wicked problems” since 2009 when she first started training teachers and students in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is one of the early alumni of the Stanford University d.school, and is a founding member of the design thinking research group Research in Education and Design (REDlab). She has a commitment to understanding how learning environments can be shaped to enhance agency, creativity, and community development. Prior to joining Smith, Zaza worked on introducing design thinking to Zimbabwe, where she facilitated workshops for doctors to develop insightful medical devices and reimagine their practice. She is also conducting an ethnographic study on how Zimbabweans learn to problem-solve through video footage, user-generated visuals, and artifacts for analysis research on technology use in emerging markets. This work involves developing new methods for engaging participants in research through participatory idea generation and rapid prototyping.

Zaza holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Sciences from the College of Arts and Sciences at Wellesley College and a Ph.D.from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University.