Lee-Sean Huang

Lee-Sean Huang

Service Design & Storytelling in New York, Boston & Providence, he/they

  • Global creative leader with 20 years of experience in design, content, and learning
  • I help communities craft stories & services to build, learn, and grow together
  • Senior Director of Learning and Programs at AIGA, Cofounder/Creative Director at Foossa, Part-Time Faculty at Parsons, SVA, Emerson College, and Woxsen University
  • Winner of a Signal Award for Best Experimental Podcast (2022), Core77 Notable Service Design Award (2016), IxDA People's Choice Interaction Award (2013)
  • Available for media inquiries, keynotes, workshops, and other collaborations


Photo Portfolio


  • Conceive, produce, and promote podcasts, webinars, and other online and in-person educational programming for the oldest and largest professional association for design in the United States
  • Collaborate with subject matter experts and influencers in the arts, academia, media, and technology to create professional development content that reaches nearly 1 million people across AIGA's combined online channels (Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Email)
  • Develop and teach Portfolio Development Studio, an online cohort-based course that helps designers assemble their portfolios and tell their professional stories
  • Developed curriculum and portfolio review criteria for AIGA's Professional Designer and Design Leader certification programs which launched in 2023
  • Won silver in the Best Experimental Podcast category at the 2022 Signal Awards for producing AIGA's Design Adjacent podcast
  • Organized AIGA's National Design Conferences in 2022 (Seattle) and 2023 (New York City).
  • Produced audio course on innovation and design thinking drawing on my experience teaching the subject in university and corporate learning contexts
  • Designed guide to social innovation written Jeff Leitner and Andrew Benedict-Nelson based on material originally developed for a social work Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California
  • Collaborated with a group of West Point cadets, faculty, and staff and the New York City Department of Veterans Services to better understand and design ways to address the challenges faced by people in the military transitioning back to civilian life
  • Produced three online classes: Design Thinking for Business Innovation, Become a Design Thinking Facilitator, and Futurecasting for Product Innovation

Designing for Financial Empowerment (DFE) is a cross-sector initiative to explore how service design can be used to make public sector financial empowerment services more effective and accessible.

  • Co-led financial counseling project with the Parsons DESIS Lab (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability),
  • Conducted research about New York City's financial counseling services
  • Co-designed ways to improve client retention by 10%, leading to greater chance of successful financial outcomes
  • Received a Core77 Notable Service Design award.
DoTank at Made in the Lower East Side

The miLES Do Tank was an action-oriented design thinking course, tied to a challenge to translate learnings into local impact.

  • Collaborated with experts from Makeshift, NYU Design for America, Made in the Lower East Side, and IDEO to facilitate 14-program for young professionals and graduate students around the theme of "Borders, Migration, and Immigration" in New York City

UX for Good assembles designers from around the world to participate in intensive design sprints that address important social issues

  • Participated in two week-long sprints in Kigali and London with the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Aegis Trust to design ways to translate the feelings evoked by genocide memorials into sustainable action
  • Conducted research and co-design with Rwandan genocide survivors, memorial staff members, and representatives from government and civil society
  • Developed and open-sourced the Inzovu Curve framework which maps a prototypical journey of a person going through the transformative experience of a museum reaching a state of motivation and action (Inzovu means "elephant" in Kinyarwanda)
  • Organized public design jam at the Queens Museum in New York City to further test and develop the Inzovu Curve framework
  • Collaborated in an intensive design sprint with designers from Twitter, Google, and other organizations to help musicians in New Orleans connect with audiences and increase their income
  • Conducted design research with musicians, music fans, venue owners, and social service providers
  • Designed and open-sourced concepts for (1) digital platform that allows musicians to track performance data and share information with fans; (2) network of meeting spots for musicians to exchange knowledge and resources, and (3) new tipping system that makes it easier for listeners to leave tips for bands at restaurants and bars.
  • Awarded People’s Choice Interaction Award from IxDA in 2013.

Work Experience

2018 — Now
New York City and Remote
  • Research, strategize, and produce content for online and in-person educational programming targeting ~8,000 paid members and ~1 million total combined online audience
  • Develop and promote online courses and certification programs
  • Organize and host online and in-person events including the 2022 Design Conference, attended by approximately 1200 people
  • Produce and edit “Design Adjacent” podcast, which won silver in the Best Experimental Podcast category of the 2022 Signal Awards
  • Manage a network freelance community managers, content creators, designers, and editors
2013 — Now
New York City, Providence, and Remote
  • Own and operate a design and strategy consultancy with clients ranging from startups to companies in Fortune 500, local governments to the United Nations
  • Facilitate corporate training workshops on design thinking, service design, and storytelling
  • Created online courses in design thinking, innovation, and strategic foresight for CreativeLive, Knowable, and HighBrow
2023 — Now
Adjunct Professor at Woxsen University
Telangana, India
2016 — Now
New York, Paris, and Online
  • Develop and teach hybrid intensive course in design strategy and strategic foresights in Parsons Paris-based executive masters program in Strategic Design for Global Leadership
  • Created and taught courses in the “Design Leadership for Business” and "Business Design for Social Impact" online continuing education certificates
  • Developed and taught "Design for Citizenship" course with David Colby Reed in the Transdisciplinary Design masters program
  • Co-led with David Colby Reed research project with Parsons DESIS Lab (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) about the design of financial empowerment services in New York City, which won a 2016 Notable Service Design Award from Core 77
  • Elected to 2022 part-time faculty collective bargaining committee and negotiated 30% minimum pay increase over 5 years contract ratified by 97% of eligible union members
2012 — Now
New York City and Online
  • Develop original curriculum and teach hybrid “Technologies for Designing Change” course in Design for Social Innovation masters program
  • Advise student thesis projects in the Interaction Design masters program
  • Completed courses in documentaries film production, comedy writing, and street photography
2016 — 2021
Adjunct Instructor at New York University
New York City and Online
  • Taught “Design Thinking,” “Web Design & Computing Principles”, and “Storytelling for Social Impact”
  • Mentored students in Design for America
2009 — 2013
Designer and Strategist at Purpose
New York City and Rio de Janeiro
  • Established user experience design practice
  • Developed communications campaigns; web, mobile, and in-person user experiences; and social innovation business models with clients including Audi, Dove (Unilever), Livestrong Foundation, and the European Commission
  • Conducted ethnographic design research projects in the United States, Brazil, and India
  • Created curriculum and taught internal training modules and public workshops
  • Served as a part-time Design and Strategy Advisor from 2013-2015
2007 — 2008
Development and Outreach Associate at Human Rights Watch
New York City
  • Designed and localized advocacy and fundraising communications materials for online and print
  • Organized donor events, including the annual conference of major international donors
2003 — 2006
Assistant Language Teacher at Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
Nakatsu, Japan
  • Taught English as a second language to Japanese children and adults
  • Organized cultural exchange events
  • Completed certificate program in teaching elementary Japanese as a foreign language
1999 — 2003
Bachelor of Arts with Honors at Harvard College
  • Major in Government (Political Science)
2002 — 2002
Summer Course in International Human Rights at Lund University School of Law
Lund, Sweden
2000 — 2001
Diploma in Spanish and Catalan Studies at University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain
2000 — 2000
Summer Course in Elementary French Language and Civilization at Sorbonne
Paris, France


Leading Innovation Certificate from AIGA

Credential ID Provider# 1307375


  • Keynote presentation reframing labor organizing as a continuation and extension of design practice and pedagogy
  • Making the case for why organizing is an essential skill in a designer’s toolkit.
  • Sharing my experiences as one of the leaders of the 2022 part-time faculty strike at The New School/Parsons School of Design, the longest adjunct faculty strike in US labor history to date, which resulted in negotiating a 30% minimum pay increase over a 5-year contract ratified by 97% of part-time faculty union members
Colorado State University (Online)

Sharing the story of my creative career with design students at Colorado State University

  • Delivered opening remarks and hosted day 1 of the 3-day AIGA National Design Conference in Seattle
  • Link above: audio recording of panel I hosted with Anne H. Berry, Jennifer Rittner, and Kelly Walters, editors of The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression & Reflection, which spotlights teaching practices, research, stories, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens
  • Be BRAVE: the theme of the 2022 Asian Creative Festival
  • Hosted 3 sessions on the first day: "Cultivating Creative Communities" with Justin Chang, "World-Class Mentorship" with Felix Lee, and "Ruthless Prioritization" with Kenny Nguyen
Design as Adaptation at Farm Credit Services of America
Dialogue on Data and Design at Yale University School of the Environment
New Haven (Online)

Guest lecture with David Colby Reed in the course "Environmental Data Visualization & Communication" taught by Jennifer Marlon

Eastern Kentucky University (Online)
New York City
  • How will design be practiced and taught in the future? How can designers (and design-centered companies) stay ahead of these changes with new skills and competencies?
  • Introducing AIGA's Design Futures trends, published in late 2018, as well as the results of ongoing research and community engagement on the topic
AIGA Design Futures at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Presentation with David Colby Reed about applying design thinking and service design to credit unions

West Point

Guest lecture with David Colby Reed

The Fundamentals of Design Thinking at Create and Cultivate Vision Summit
Innovation through co-creation – how to add value from the local user perspective at Tomorrow’s Urban Travel
Copenhagen, Denmark
Cannes, France

Live-streamed panel and podcast about design thinking with Claire Bridges, Melissa Rancourt, Dave Sutton and Lee-Sean Huang

Washington DC

Panelists: Mary Madden, Researcher, Data and Society; Taylor Moore, Free Expression Fellow, Center for Democracy and Technology; and Lee-Sean Huang, Co-founder and Creative Director at Foossa

Designing for Financial Empowerment
National Harbor

Workshop for the International Legal Technology Association with V. Mary Abraham

New York City
  • Panelists: Nate Schneider, Garance Choko, Rachel Susan, Mathias Vestergaard, Lee-Sean Huang
  • Moderator: Alexa Clay

In this commissioned article for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021, I explore Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi’s story to search for lessons on how to navigate working within harmful systems. Illustrations by Neethi and Asahi Nagata.


Helen Armstrong reprinted an excerpt of my AIGA Interview with David Carroll in her book, Big Data, Big Design. David Carroll is an Associate Professor of media design at The Parsons School of Design and was featured in the Netflix film The Great Hack.


Let's blame the practitioners, not the tools. My response to NYU professor Natasha Iskander's article in the September 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, wherein she argues that design thinking is "fundamentally conservative and preserves the status quo."


Design Thinking is indeed a buzzword, and it’s also a useful starting point for deeper understanding


Our categories of identity are increasingly hard-coded in menus and checklists. Must we accept a world of this or that, with no space for in-between or none of the above?


Contributors: Marta Arniani, Alberto Cottica, Anna De Liddo, Lee-Sean Huang, Marc-Antoine Parent, Rosa Strube, Yannis Treffot


Based on terms like whitewashing and greenwashing, WeWashing is when corporations, brands, and other groups use "sharing" and "community" to describe what are essentially capitalist commercial transactions.


How do we go beyond office ergonomics and liberate our full kinesthetic creativity in the information economy?


Conference paper delivered at the AIGA Educators Conference 2012 "Geographics" in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The report is a personal reflection on my process and the role of design in my work with Meu Rio. Meu Rio ("My Rio" in Portuguese) is a non-partisan civil society organization based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that designs new interfaces for civic participation by creating online tools that connect citizens with government and each other and help ensure that people have a voice in the decisions that are transforming their city.



Lee-Sean was interviewed about his career journey by author Robin Landa for her book A Career is a Promise: Finding Purpose, Success, and Fulfillment.


Kevin Lee interviews Lee-Sean Huang, Senior Director of Learning & Programs at AIGA (the American Institute of Graphic Arts). The conversation covers how the design profession is evolving, how creative briefs are changing, and how the design community is adapting to new technologies, including AI, which are already having a significant impact on how designers work.


"In building its new certification program, AIGA leaned into the power of data to find what mattered most to its members. It’s familiar territory for the design-focused membership group."


"Lee-Sean Huang is a talented designer, a supportive educator, founder of a creative consultancy called Foossa and the Director of Design Content & Learning at AIGA. It was lovely to talk with him about his journey."

  • BBC World Service interview with Virginia Duan, Aeri Kim, and Lee-Sean Huang reflecting on what the film Everything Everywhere All at Once's Oscar wins meant to us as Asian Americans
  • Lee-Sean: "I'm very much a fan of Everything Everywhere All at Once, but I think what happens when you break through a ceiling is it becomes the new floor, right? The film resonated with me a lot because there's just so many parallels with my own life, right? And I think there's a positive thing to normalize Asian American stories."
  • Link above: archived recording of the March 15, 2023 broadcast with machine transcription.



Shows that best uses untraditional ideas and techniques in concept, content or execution, to produce work that drives the medium forward.


Forward Slash Story is an application-only residential lab for writers, artists, technologists and designers. We attempt to tackle some of the most difficult problems surrounding storytelling in the 21st Century. I was selected to participate in the 2015 cohort in Nosara, Costa Rica as well as the 2018 cohort in Lamu, Kenya.


I was chosen to participate in the inaugural class of the ARCHE Public Voices Greenhouse, a program that prepares our nation’s top advocates, researchers, practitioners, philanthropy, and other health equity leaders to dramatically promote and amplify policy ideas, best practices, and solutions that address the social determinants of health and improve health outcomes for underserved communities.


Designing for Financial Empowerment (DFE) is a cross-sector collaboration between the City of New York, Citi Community Development and the Parsons DESIS Lab to explore how service design can be used to make public sector financial empowerment services more effective and accessible. This landmark initiative challenges the cycle of poverty by holistically examining current public policy and services; understanding the interrelated needs of New York City's most vulnerable populations; and enabling community members to participate in the co-design of the very services that they use, alongside policymakers, advocates and service providers.


The UX for Good New Orleans project presents the opportunity to connect independent musicians and audiences as never before, fostering a culture in which tourists are able to connect with artists during and after their visits. Musicians would be empowered to optimize self-management to increase their income and engage with their fan base. The lessons learned from this project could be applied to the advantage of musicians across the world.


2006 — Now
New York City

I have served on the board of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program Alumni Association of New York since 2018. I previously served as the webmaster for the association starting in 2006. The link above is to a JETAA-sphere podcast interview where I talked about my experience in Japan on the JET Program and where it has brought me in my life and career.

2022 — 2023
New York City

I was elected by fellow part-time faculty at The New School to serve on the bargaining committee in our 2022 contract negotiations. After going on strike for 25 days, the longest adjunct professor strike in US history, we negotiated a contract that included a 30% minimum pay increase over a 5-year term. The contract was ratified by 97% of eligible union members. My social media posts about the contract campaign and strike were acquired by The New School's archivist for inclusion in the university's permanent collection.

After finishing my term on the bargaining committee, I was elected to serve a two-year term (2023-2025) as the Sergeant-at-Arms in our union local's executive board.

2023 — 2023

I served on the programming committee organizing my 20-year college reunion at Harvard. I also produced and edited a crowdsourced video where members of our class shared words of wisdom with our younger selves.

2023 — 2023

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums awards $5,000 annual fellowships to 15 Utah artists in design, performing, and visual arts to recognize their individual artistic excellence and support their professional careers. I served as the Design Arts Juror for the Utah Artist Fellowship in 2023, the first year that design was included in the fellowship program.

2022 — 2023

Mission Daybreak, formerly known as the Suicide Prevention Grand Challenge, is a $20 million grand challenge to reduce Veteran suicides. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs called on innovators to develop suicide prevention solutions that meet the diverse needs of Veterans. I served as a design mentor to the Televeda team's "Project Hózhó," the first mental health app and comprehensive operational plan for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) populations. Televeda designed the tool in partnership with AIAN and Veteran communities for Navajo Veterans with plans to adapt and expand for use with other tribes. The solution incorporates traditional healing practices like storytelling and talking-circle interventions to reduce Veteran suicide and improve access to VA resources. The project won first place and $3 million.

2021 — 2022

The Stronger Democracy Award granted a total of $22 million to proven, scalable, and game-changing solutions that address one or more of the following categories:

  • Voting & Elections
  • Policy Making
  • Civic Engagement
    The objective of the Award is to incentivize our government to be more responsive to the broader electorate and ensure that it is staffed with high-quality, high-functioning institutions and people.
2020 — 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare inequities in health, wealth and opportunity. The uprising for racial justice in the United States has produced a global outcry. But the systems that perpetuate inequity and injustice have been generations in the making. Racial Equity 2030 is a call to reimagine and build a future where equity is realized. In honor of the W.K Kellogg Foundation’s 90th anniversary, Racial Equity 2030 will award $90 million to organizations that invite, build and scale ideas for transformative change in the social, economic and political systems and institutions that uphold inequities. I served as a reviewer for the grant applications.

2019 — 2021
Board Member at New York University LGBTQ+ Alumni Network
New York City
2010 — 2018
New York City

The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1000 at a time. Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1000 or the local equivalent, come out of the pockets of the chapter's "trustees" and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects. I served as a trustee and treasurer of the New York chapter of the Awesome Foundation.

Side Projects

Music: Voice and Ukulele
  • Perform and record cover songs and original music for voice and ukulele
  • Developed the character and created the Instagram channel for Design Dom, who delivers tough love with an ASMR voice and BDSM sense of humor for creative control freaks
  • Final project for comedy writing class at the School of Visual Arts taught by Bobbie Walles
  • Produced and published a street photography book documenting experiences with the world re-emerging from pandemic isolation
  • Produced audio recordings of public domain books and stories with Peter Neofotis
  • Wrote and recorded a sea shanty-inspired comedy tune about the Taiwanese container ship Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal
  • Played a capoeira-fighting henchman in a comedy music video by The Gregory Brothers and Japanese German yodeler Takeo Ischi

Played a tech bro version of myself in a comedy short about a fictional social network