Public Design for Equity
 
Shalini Agrawal, creator of Public Design for Equity

Shalini Agrawal, creator of Public Design for Equity

Creator, Connector, Collaborator

Shalini Agrawal

Shalini Agrawal is trained as an architect and brings over 20 years of experience in community-engaged practice and pedagogy. She is co-director of Pathways to Equity, a design leadership program for social equity, and FIELD Design Network, a forum that builds capacity for underrepresented designers. She is Associate Professor in Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts and teaches at the intersection of design and community engagement. Shalini is a board member of Association for Community Design and Architects, Designers, Planners for Social Responsibility and is a contributing author to Design for Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity and Public Interest Design Education Guidebook.

"I hold firm to the belief that the individual’s well being is a reflection of the community, and the community’s well being is a reflection of its constituents."

Diversity in Leadership

Paving a New Path

When faced with a shortage of leadership opportunities for women of color over 25 years ago, Shalini's response was not to “wait my turn”, but to create the opportunities herself. She co-founded the non-profit architreasures in 1996, an organization that works in underrepresented communities, primarily communities of color, employing participatory design for the design of public space. Her investment in every aspect of the organization - curriculum development, fundraising, board member, workshop facilitation - profoundly influenced the trajectory of her leadership journey, and sparked her decades-long community design practice that engages with communities, non-profit organizations, government entities and academic institutions.

As a self-taught public interest designer, Shalini saw a pressing need to develop best practices and assert the value of this design process. Her commitment to share this practice continued at the Center for Art + Public Life at California College of the Arts. As director, she created curriculum for students to learn with communities through fellowships, grants, classes and social impact projects. In addition, she took seriously the responsibility to prepare students in community-engaged practice before engaging with communities, and co-developed workshops that have been requested nationally. Read about Shalini's work.

“Room for Big Ideas” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Co-created by Shalini Agrawal

“Room for Big Ideas” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Co-created by Shalini Agrawal