A few weeks ago someone I know posted yet another “top 10 UX influencers!” listicle. This list was the same list that gets published every other week—all white dudes, maybe a white woman or two. It got me thinking: while I do revere many of the people on that list, I think it’s time to make lists of other people. So I’m going to share with you a bunch of my personal influencers.
Jessica Ivins: When I started my career transition, Jessica was still living in Philadelphia. As far as I could tell, she was the most prominent UX person in the city. Plus she was approachable, accessible, and generous with her time and knowledge. She sat down with me for coffee one afternoon and helped me launch my self-guided study of UX. Without her, I’m not sure I would’ve found my way in. I am truly grateful. These days, you can find Jessica in Chattanooga continuing to inspire career shifters every day at Centre Centre.
Lis Pardi: Since I’ve known Lis, she’s been my biggest cheerleader. I cannot express the degree of gratitude I have for her. I met her when I started serving on the board of PhillyCHI. Lis was the board chair, and I was the secretary. I learned new networking tricks and everything about events organization from her. She also guided me toward other people I should know. Then she hooked me up with my first UX job at her workplace and became my manager for almost two years. She helped me connect the dots on a lot of the foundational stuff. You may know Lis as the floppy disk icon lady or the woman who likes Kung Fu Panda 2 a whole lot. Currently, she is in Boston working a total dream job at Mad*Pow.
Tina Bejian-Binnion: My second manager at my first UX workplace was Tina BB. She’s a total super-mom/wife/daughter/sister who works more than full time at her job, puts out so many fires on a day-to-day basis, does it all with ease and grace, and of course never asks for (or receives) the credit she deserves for any of it. In our day-to-day, what I love witnessing over and over again is how she is able to distill complex ideas down to simple explanations.
I wanted to use “Philaspirations” in the heading here, but my editor asked me, begged me actually, to ditch it. See how I snuck it in anyway!?
Liana Dragoman: We met while volunteering at a conference together and bonded through the experience. She is the Service Design Practice Lead for the City of Philadelphia and totally the reason I am interested in exploring government work and service design.
David Dylan Thomas: If you aren’t already aware of David, you need to become so. This five-minute talk is a great introduction. (Try to attend a live one-hour session of this talk; it is fantastic!) He used to help organize BarCampPhilly and the Philly Content Strategy Meetup. He also does many other things. I met him just as I realized I needed to change careers; he’s encouraged me every step of the way.
Mikey Ilagan: I’d seen Mikey’s name around for a while, but only recently have I gotten to know him. He may sit more on the dev side of things, but he is THE #a11y fella in Philadelphia. As a part of his accessibility learning/teaching, he thinks a lot about inclusive design. And a lot about inclusivity in general. And since that’s kinda my jam, we get along pretty well. I can’t wait to see how Mikey’s future plays out, he’s definitely one to stick by.
Vivianne Castillo: I met Vivianne when we both attended a Mike Monteiro talk in January 2017. Six days after the presidential inauguration. Mike was awesome (duh). Vivianne was telling me that she was in the midst of career shifting. I told her that I had just transitioned myself and gave her my contact info in case she needed any help. Ha! She did not need my help at all. In fact, shortly after we met she landed a UX position at a local digital agency. She wrote a series on diversity in the workplace, and then she landed a job as a user researcher at Google! I’m writing this in July of 2018, and she’s done a lot since I’ve known her. I am so excited to see what’s gonna happen next.
I encourage you to follow all the people above! I’d like to make this a recurring series. If you have someone that inspires you, let me know. Maybe they’ll end up on the next list.