Design Leadership Institute | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Design Leadership Institute

The Design Leadership Institute is a twelve-month incubator for MCAD Seniors who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color to explore their potential as agents of social change in their communities and beyond. Convening over eleven sessions, the institute is a collaborative experience for 12 fellows to engage with guest mentors, and cultivate new leadership practices within the contexts of race, culture, and power and privilege. 

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Meet Our 2021/22 Fellows

The Design Leadership Institute is pleased to announce the inaugural cohort for the 2021/2022 program, which includes seniors from BFA and second-year MFA students at MCAD. For the next eleven months, the fellows will engage with a team of mentors, like-minded artists and designers, who are invested in their professional and personal growth. Congratulations to Bo Young An, Deanna Ayala, Kalalyna Murphy, Aaron Matthew Panaligan, Kallista Salim, Simone Alexa, and Genie Tran.

Portrait of Bo Young An

Bo Young An 
MFA, Visual Studies


Bo Young An hopes to uplift and give voices to lesser known and appreciated stories, crafts, and processes through her creative works. She sees her current work with Korean folklore as a way to explore her family’s history and relationship to her Korean heritage. Through her fellowship she plans to apply her multidisciplinary practice towards building a community of strong and continually evolving voices, as well as informing her teaching and facilitation. 

Portrait of Deanna Ayala

Deanna Ayala
BFA, Illustration


Deanna Ayala would like to use illustration as a way to introduce children to diversity in a natural and holistic way, drawing on her Latina identity to enact changes in the art we see everyday. Through the fellowship, she hopes to strengthen her voice and build confidence in her ability to articulate her story and navigate the creative field. 


Portrait of Kalalyna Murphy

Kalalyna Murphy
BFA, Graphic Design


Kalalyna Murphy sees design as the best way to visually express her passions and cultural identity, and would like to make design accessible for Black youth in particular. Through the fellowship she plans to develop her design language and find self-care and resilience practices that help her succeed in the design world. 

Portrait of Aaron Matthew C. Panaligan

Aaron Matthew C. Panaligan
BFA, Filmmaking
Minors, Art History and Creative Writing



Aaron Matthew C. Panaligan sees design as a fundamental step in his creative practice as a documentary filmmaker. He intends to inspire movement beyond superficial perceptions about what art, culture, and even life should look like. Through the fellowship he hopes to engage in complex conversations with like-minded mentors, as well as sharpen his production, design, and writing to position himself as a leader in his field.

Portrait of Kallista Salim

Kallista Salim
BFA, Graphic Design


Kallista Salim uses her work as a way to advocate and bring awareness to her Indonesian identity and community. Post-graduation she hopes to engage in social justice work, particularly to fight colorism, support women’s rights, and highlight lesser known issues in Indonesian society. She hopes the Design Leadership Institute will help her find the courage in her own voice and inspire others to find their own as well.

Portrait of Simone Alexa

Simone Alexa
BFA, Drawing and Painting
Minors, Art History and Engaged Public Arts


Simone Alexa creates to empower and heal her BIPOC community. As an artist, she looks to understand problems in her community and designs projects around solutions. Through the Design Leadership Institute, she would like to grow her voice and build relationships with other community-engaged artists and leaders. 

Portrait of Genie Tran

Genie Tran
MFA, Visual Studies


Genie Tran finds design inherent to the way she thinks and constructs images, in order to translate her ideas and personal experiences. She would like to empower and foster BIPOC narratives in the art and design world, so that future artists and designers of color understand that they more than deserve a seat at the table. Genie’s hope with Design Leadership Institute is to be able to continue believing in her creative value and champion self-confidence, both in herself and in others around her.

Meet Our 2021/22 Mentors

Portrait of Tricia Heuring

Tricia Heuring
Director and Mentor

Tricia Heuring is a Thai American curator, arts organizer, and educator. Her self-taught curatorial practice has been shaped by building opportunities and community for emerging artists. She is interested in care and generosity as guiding curatorial principles, over gatekeeping and individualism. As a co-founder of Public Functionary, a Northeast Minneapolis-based multidisciplinary arts platform, she supports emerging BIPOC artists to develop resources, studio practice, and exhibitions. Advocating for an equitable and inclusive MSP arts sector has led to collaborative work, consulting and teaching within grant-making, public art, and academic organizations. Tricia is a graduate of Macalester College and holds an M.A. in arts management from St. Mary’s University.

Portrait of Kelsi Sharp

Kelsi Sharp

Kelsi Sharp is an African American artist from the American Southwest. Growing up along Route 66, her work is strongly influenced by the signage, gas stations, and other relics found on the historic highway. After studying construction methods, earning certifications in fabrication technologies, and apprenticing in an iconic Santa Fe sign shop, Kelsi began Sharp Sign Co., a signage and environmental design company based in the Midwest, with projects all over the country.

Portrait of Ka Oskar Ly

Ka Oskar Ly

Ka Oskar Ly is a queer Hmong American immigrant multidisciplinary artist and cultural producer from fashion to murals to installations that evoke cultural experiences and seed community futures. Although the Hmong language has no word for “art” or “queer,” these ways of being undeniably exist in their practice, creating many firsts in their communities. They work at the intersection of art, organizing, and political advocacy spanning across social movements that have produced platforms, policies, and systems for BIPOC communities to thrive over the last 15+ years. Ka founded ArtCrop, a project combining community-supported art and farming that has since grown into Ua Si Creative, an artist agency reimagining community-engaged public art that centers BIPOC artists and narratives.

Portrait of Bobby Rogers

Bobby Rogers

Bobby Rogers (he/him) is a visual historian, photographer and art director from Minneapolis, Minnesota. His work has broken barriers across various industries and has continued to garner the attention of publications across the globe. Rogers was named Minnesota Monthly’s Top Visual Artists to Watch in 2016, and City Pages named Rogers an Artist of the Year in 2017. His work seamlessly blends his passion for design and futurism with his long standing commitment for intellectual rigor and cultural exploration. After graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 2014, Rogers was soon named the official photographer for the Walker Art Center, and subsequently became the first Senior Art Director of African American Style at Target Corporation. Rogers has premiered work at various institutions from The Minnesota Museum of American Art to the International Center of Photography. He has also amassed a list of clientele that includes Apple, PAPER Magazine, Timberland, Redbull, Vox Media, City Pages, and others. Rogers is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Bureau, an interdisciplinary art studio that produces critical dialogue and intellectual ingenuity through robust artistic production.

Portrait of Terresa Moses

Terresa Moses

Terresa Moses (she/her) is a proud Black queer woman dedicated to the liberation of Black and brown people through art and design. She uses creativity as tools of community activism like her recent solo exhibition, Umbra. Moses is the Creative Director at Blackbird Revolt –a social justice-based design studio– and an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and the Director of Design Justice at the University of Minnesota. As a community engaged scholar, she created Project Naptural– a natural hair initiative centers the experiences of Black women– and co-collaborated to create Racism Untaught– an anti-racist design research framework. She is currently a PhD candidate in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto. And, she serves as a core team member of African American Graphic Designers (AAGD) and as a collaborator with the Black Liberation Lab.

Portrait of Diana Albrecht

Diana Albrecht

Diana Albrecht a queer, Korean adoptee, creative person. Professionally, she is a senior art director at KNOCK Inc., and moonlights as a portrait photographer on the side. Radical empathy is at the foundation of Diana’s being, both as a human and a creative. As a human, she simply cares about those around her and works tirelessly to establish community and connection wherever she goes. As an art director, she feels a huge responsibility to uplift the stories of underrepresented folks. Lastly, as a photographer, she is empowered to deconstruct colonized standards of beauty and worth so that we might move through the world liberated and loved.

The Design Leadership Institute is generously supported by the Calmenson Foundation.