Design Core Detroit restructured, new management announced

Design Core Detroit announced that Bonnie Fahoome and Kiana Wenzell have been promoted to co-executive directors. They succeed Olga Stella who has held the position since 2016. Stella will continue to oversee the organization in her role as Vice President of Strategy and Communications at the College for Creative Studies (CCS), of which Design Core is a part. Fahoome and Wenzell both held leadership positions with the organization for several years.

Fahoome served as Director of Business Programs, leading Design Core’s work to support freelancers and small design businesses. Over the past 5 years in this role, Fahoome has grown Detroit Design Network membership to nearly 120 companies, developed Design Core’s series of design guides to help decision makers in other industries work with designers of all disciplines and created a new business matching service to strengthen the market for regional design services. Prior to Design Core, Fahoome spent nearly 10 years serving Detroit entrepreneurs and small businesses through other organizations and programs.

Wenzell served as director of Detroit Month of Design, organizing the annual design festival and other public programs. Over the past 6 years with the organization, Wenzell has expanded the reach of Design Core’s public events, making Drinks x Design one of the most attended networking events in the region. Promoted to director of Detroit Month of Design in 2020, Wenzell successfully put together a month-long hybrid festival with more than 70 events attracting 50,000 attendees, surpassing all previous records. An interior designer by training, Wenzell has over 15 years of experience researching, planning and executing design projects in the Detroit metropolis.

“Working together, Bonnie and Kiana have the vision, leadership and collaborative style that will propel Design Core into its next phase of impact for the Detroit design community,” said Olga Stella, vice president of strategy and communications at the College for Creative Studies. “I couldn’t be more confident and excited about the future of the organization and look forward to supporting them in their new roles. »

In September 2020, Stella was promoted to Vice President of Strategy and Communications at CCS, with oversight of the college’s Marketing and Communications Department, Office of Partnerships and Community Arts Partnerships, as well as Design Core. With the promotion of Fahoome and Wenzell, Stella will be able to focus her efforts on increasing the college’s visibility, developing new partnerships and developing the college’s new strategic plan for the future.

“Design Core Detroit is a great asset to CCS and the community,” said Don Tuski, president of the College for Creative Studies. “I am excited about future opportunities to leverage Design Core’s programs, partnerships, and expertise to bring even greater value to CCS students and programs. Congratulations to Bonnie and Kiana on their well-deserved promotion.

In addition to these promotions, Design Core restructured staff positions due to recent vacancies and welcomed new teammates. Ashley Seay-Green and Frances Bernardo are new project managers supporting key programs such as Detroit Design Network, Detroit Month of Design and Detroit City of Design. Karen Pegg is the new Marketing Manager. Charlotte Willson continues in her role as office administrator, coordinating administrative operations in Design Core programs and providing support to the Detroit Design Network.

Ashley Seay-Green has executed small to large commercial and residential projects across Michigan and the United States as an interior designer, project manager, and program manager.
Frances Bernardo has worked closely with small businesses from LA to Detroit. She began her career as a graphic designer for the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department.
Karen Pegg’s experience has been growing start-ups for over 14 years developing creative, branding and marketing strategies.

Design Core was originally formed as a partnership between the College for Creative Studies and Michigan business leaders to support the growth of Detroit’s creative economy. In December 2015, Design Core successfully achieved designation of Detroit as a UNESCO City of Design, still the only one in the United States. In April 2018, Design Core released its strategy to activate the designation to make Detroit a global center for the practice of inclusive design, developing several programs in service of this strategy.

Throughout the pandemic, Design Core has doubled down on its services to Detroit’s small and independent design firms, as well as the power of inclusive design to help build more resilient and thriving businesses and community solutions. He began to work more closely with CCS colleagues on programs and initiatives to leverage resources and increase impact.

Abdul J. Gaspar