Cheryl Heller founded the first MFA program in Social Design at SVA, an experience-based program whose graduates are working as creative leaders in government, industry, healthcare, technology and global NGOs. She is President of the Measured Lab, which she founded to investigate the contribution design is making to human health, and founder of the design lab CommonWise. She created the first design department in a major advertising agency. As a strategist, she has helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion global market leaders, launched category-redefining divisions and products, reinvigorated moribund cultures, and designed strategies for hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. She has taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world. Heller is a recipient of the AIGA Lifetime Medal for her contribution to the field of design and a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellow. Her book, The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Universal Creative Energy of Social Design, is a manual for anyone wanting to use design to create a resilient future. Her writing has been published in the Harvard Business Review, CEO World and the Design Observer.
She is currently leading an initiative to diminish the flow of young people from foster care to homelessness and is an advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID on an initiative integrating Human Centered Design into public health. Heller’s clients have included Ford Motor Company, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, MeadWestvaco, StoraEnso, the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Medtronic, Mars Corporation, Discovery Networks International, Herman Miller, Bayer Corporation, Seventh Generation, L’Oreal, Hearst Publishing, The World Wildlife Fund, Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation and the Girl Scouts of America.
Heller is the former Board Chair of PopTech, and a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $13 million to designers working for the public good, and partnered with Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to create the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.” She is currently working on her Ph.D at RMIT University in Melbourne.