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“Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”

The October 23, 2020 design thinking breakfast featured Jacinda Walker of designExplorr. She challenged adults to think about designing for a user with similar tools she uses for introducing design thinking to students. Participants were allowed to go back in time and tap into their childhood imaginations.

We challenged participants to get back to their roots and explore what it means to create without barriers. At the end of the session, we all agreed on one thing: many design professionals create with barriers. We bring our education, our pre-conceived notions, and what we believe to be true into the work that we do. But when children are introduced to design thinking, they create without barriers.

Event Highlights


Jacinda Walker, MFA is renowned for her work in design, diversity, research, and strategy. She is the founder and creative director of designExplorr, a social enterprise whose mission addresses the diversity gap within the design profession. Her research on Design Journeys: Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Design Disciplines has been hailed as breakthrough work. This solutions-based thesis explores diversity in design disciplines and investigates effective strategies to expose Black and Latino youth to design careers. Ms. Walker’s future goals are to help scale diversity in design initiatives within education institutions, corporations, organizations, and museums.

Woman smiling wearing a white shirt.


DT Breakfast host, Niesha Ford, is a second-year graduate student at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry and is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Niesha works with multiple organizations in the greater New Orleans area, committed to causes such as: providing services for people experiencing homelessness, encouraging positive racial perspectives, and working with historically marginalized groups to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Her interest in design thinking arose during various meetings on her current working group regarding racial perspectives, where she and her team were charged with designing ideas to combat health disparities during COVID-19. As a graduate assistant, Niesha hosts the design thinking breakfast series and has led a workshop for undergraduate students.

About the Series

The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking hosts a monthly design thinking breakfast, where we showcase the work of design thinkers around the world. These breakfasts are a space to build community among those using design, design thinking, and related methods for social impact with some local flavor, particularly from the greater New Orleans area and the Gulf South. In a one-hour morning session of creativity and networking, participants have the opportunity to explore design methods and applications.

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