Lunch Talks

Cheryl Heller

Chair, MFA Design for Social Innovation SVA NYC & Partner, CommonWise
November 7, 2014

There are no shortcuts. In the end it’s about relationships and winning people’s trust. The way that you earn people’s trust is to be right.

Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at SVA and founder of CommonWise. She’s taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world, 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 dozens of successful entrepreneurs.

She has been successfully practicing social innovation and communication design for many years, with major corporations like Seventh Generation, Ford, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, Cemex, Gap, Bayer Corporation L'Oreal, Hearst, Hachette Filipacci, Banorte and Sappi, non- profits such as WWF, Audubon, IDE (International Development Enterprises), Concern Worldwide, Synergos, The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, and the Girl Scouts of America. She also works with leading foundations including Ford Foundation, F.B. Heron and Lumina Foundation.

She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999 and advised Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum on the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.” She is a past Board Chair and currently an advisor to PopTech, and has been a core faculty member for the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows. She is a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab and the Lewis Institute, on the Innovation Advisory Board for the Lumina Foundation, and an advisor to DataKind. She writes for many publications, including the Unreasonable Institute,, NextBillion, JustMeans and Dowser.

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