Chicago Camps

Leadership by Design

2021 dates & tickets coming soon!

Columbia College Film Row – Chicago

Conference Overview

Learn design leadership from the experts at
Leadership by Design.

It’s a two-day, single-track conference featuring inspiring keynote speakers, accomplished design leaders, and experienced professionals from major brands and organizations.

Meet Our Awesome Sponsors

These great sponsors help us make Leadership by Design affordable and accessible. These organizations see the value in design and design leadership—please show your support for the support they’ve shown us!

About Our Speakers

Great thinking on design leadership is found in many forms in many industries. We’ve curated an incredible lineup of design experts, mentors, and coaches from diverse fields to help you down your own leadership path. Our single-track format ensures you’ll get to learn from every one of them.


Maggie Hsu

Maggie Hsu
Co-Founder, Gold House

Maggie Hsu is a Co-Founder of Gold House, a nonprofit collective of pioneering Asian leaders dedicated to systematically accelerating the Asian diaspora’s societal impact while enhancing the community’s cultural legacy. She is also is the Alliance Manager for Blockchain at Amazon Web Services. Prior to that, she led business development for Fluidity, a platform for tokenizing securities based on the Ethereum blockchain. Maggie was previously Chief of Staff to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Prior to that, Maggie was Director of Strategy at Hilton Worldwide and a consultant at McKinsey & Company. She is a Co-Founder of Mochi Magazine, an online magazine for Asian Americans. Maggie holds undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard University.

For more, keep up with Maggie at


Alyssa Boehm

Alyssa Boehm
Vice President of User Experience, Forrester

Alyssa is the Vice President of User Experience at Forrester. She has established UX practices, career ladders, and built high-performing, cross-functional teams in a variety of spaces including customer science, healthcare, financial services, and education. She is based near Boston with her family and some pushy house cats.

Dani Nordin

Dani Nordin
Director Experience Design, athenahealth

Dani Nordin is an experienced UX strategist, designer and researcher, who’s been working in the design industry for over 20 years, most of it on digital products. She’s currently Director of Experience Design at athenahealth, heading up the Orders and Results zone for the athenaClinicals EHR. She’s also a part-time lecturer at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, where she teaches design thinking for emerging technologies.

Prior to joining athenahealth, she built out a UX practice and design system for Pegasystems’ digital experiences, and she helped to build a user research and design practice for Harvard Business Review.

She lives in Watertown MA with her husband, two daughters, and a dapper golden retriever named Larry.

For more, keep up with Dani at or on Twitter as @danigrrl.

Helen Keighron

Helen Keighron
Director of Product Design, HubSpot

Helen leads a large, global multi-disciplinary team of product designers, content designers and researchers at HubSpot, a SaaS platform enabling businesses to grow through their inbound marketing, sales, and customer service practices.

Over the course of 20 years working in digital design and development, she has (sometimes sneakily) infused user-centered thinking into organizations to solve problems in verticals including automotive, financial services, government, manufacturing, retail, and beyond. Helen has started and scaled high-performing, diverse design teams in environments from design agencies to high growth SaaS companies. Prior to HubSpot, her team at Curriculum Associates re-envisioned a product suite used by 15% of the US K-12 education market.

Helen is always happy to chat about leadership career development, organizational design trade offs, and the power of research storytelling in UX transformations. She believes strongly in mentoring and keeps slots on her calendar for early career professionals and emerging managers. She is based outside Boston in a small town known for llama-on-sheep crime.

For more, keep up with Helen on Twitter as @helenpremium.

Kara DeFrias

Kara DeFrias
Chief of Staff, QuickBooks Online Platform

Kara served as Director of Experience Design in the Obama White House, working on the Cancer Moonshot. Her background is a mix of private and public sector leadership experience, including TurboTax and the inaugural class of White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. In the latter she served as entrepreneur in residence, reimagining the relationship between the government and people from a technology perspective. She does pro-bono for orgs like Team Rubicon; taught human centered design to micro-entrepreneur women in rural India; and guest lectures at UC San Diego and Stanford. She currently champions the self-employed and small businesses on the Intuit QuickBooks Online Platform team as Chief of Staff.

For more, keep up with Kara at or on Twitter as @karadefrias.

Maria Pereda

Maria Pereda
Director of Product Design, Roadmunk

Maria is the Director of Product Design at Roadmunk, a SaaS product that enables companies to visualize their strategy and align as organizations. She is building Roadmunk’s first design practice and laying the foundation for a user research program to guide future efforts. Maria has a strong track record of setting up design practices from the ground up, where she focuses on building foundations for research, strategic design thinking focused on user goals and business outcomes and creating strong partnerships with product and engineering.

Prior to Roadmunk, Maria served as Senior Director of Product Design at Schoology, a leading Edtech company in the K-12 US market. Maria established Schoology’s first design practice and elevated design culture within the organization by making numerous improvements in process throughout the product development life cycle. Past experiences include Group Director of UX at Critical Mass, leading work for the Citi Global accounts in Toronto and New York. She’s also held design leadership positions at GE, where she helped establish a design Center of Excellence, and Fry, an e-commerce startup later acquired by Oracle.

In 2018, she took an oath to never buy clothes again, and has been making her own since, with variable success.


Columbia College Film Row

We are big fans of our venue and sponsor: Columbia College in Chicago. Columbia is a great place to learn and upgrade your design skills and we’re excited to partner with them!

Columbia College

About Columbia College

Columbia College Chicago is an institution of higher education specializing in arts and media disciplines, with nearly 12,000 students pursuing degrees within 120 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Check out Columbia College.

Where to Park?

There are several easy-access parking garages available in the surrounding blocks.

Where to Stay?

Coming from out of town? We recommend staying at The Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago.

Sponsorship Opportunities

We want to be the easiest partner you’ve ever worked with–even at the traditional conference level! With that as our guiding mantra, all of our Leadership by Design sponsorships are $1,500.

Leadership by Design has many different options available that are comparable to any other large scale event, and we’re happy to work with you to create something custom to meet your needs. We’ve got a great event planned and we’d love to talk to you about how we can partner with you!

If you’re interested in sponsoring Leadership by Design and getting in front of the people who are driving the future of design, contact us or download our Sponsorship Packet.

Chicago Sponsors Camps

  • Rosenfeld Media
  • Simplecast
  • Lead Honestly
  • Columbia College Chciago

Code of Conduct

All attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at our conference are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event. We are expecting cooperation from all participants to help ensuring a safe environment for everybody.

The Short Version
Full Version

Our conference is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter and other online media. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers.