Written by Tran Nguyen-Phuong and edited by Natalie Hudanick
Marielle Ednalino had always been an empathetic problem-solver ever since she was a little girl. From devising a way to reach the Nutella at the top of the shelf to proposing a resolution for the disparity of female representation in industry leadership positions, brainstorming and concocting innovative solutions are second nature for her. Naturally, she stumbled upon the concept of Design Thinking in high school when she found some videos posted by IDEO. She was intrigued. This newfound fascination with Design Thinking and passion for problem-solving led her to UC Davis where she studied human-centered design. Marielle was driven to acquire the tools and methods and sharpen her abilities to create change in the world.
However, when Marielle entered the workforce with her skills and qualifications, she was faced with barriers and obstacles that stood in the way of her success. Several of these things revolve around the place that she was in and her identity. There is not a lot of female representation in the STEM community, especially females of color representation. Marielle witnessed many incidences of discrimination towards her female colleagues and female executives. When Marielle went to HR and told them about how she felt her work environment lacked passion and invigoration for female empowerment and inclusion, she was essentially told “if you don’t feel that purpose here, then why are you here?” That response stuck with Marielle. She ultimately quit her job and decided to tackle this issue.
Now, Marielle is the founder and CEO of Htm.elle, a nonprofit that empowers young girls, especially those from low-income and underserved communities, to be the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders by equipping them with the necessary soft and hard skills to turn their dreams into reality. Marielle states that her definition of Design Thinking mirrors IDEO’s: “It’s using empathy as a lens to create solutions for real issues that impact real lives”. When girls enter Marielle’s program, they select a local or global issue that they care deeply about and are tasked with doing extensive research on it. The program walks the girls through the process of Design Thinking to help them brainstorm solutions and supplements them with workshops on machine learning and cognitive science to improve upon prototypes.
Marielle’s advice to beginners looking to use Design Thinking for social impact is “don’t be intimidated by what you’re trying to solve for. That’s what I see in a lot of my younger girls is that they have these incredible, unique, innovative ideas but feel as if they’re too small to tackle…what I would tell designers is your idea has weight and it matters and it deserves to be out into reality.”
The Hello from the Pluriverse Podcast aims to open up and create a space to have conservations about the pluriversality in design.
This podcast is a project of the Design Thinking for Social Innovation Program at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University.
Executive Producer: Lesley-Ann Noel, Ph.D
Hello from the Pluriverse 2020-2021 Student Team
- Natalie Hudanick (LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nataliehudanick/) and
- Michaeline Anglemire (LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeline-anglemire/) – Podcast Leads
- Tiwani Oseni (LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiwani-oseni-651516a2/)
Hello from the Pluriverse 2019-2020 Student Team