Cumulus Board Meeting in New York City

February 20-22, 2020, New York City, USA

We are excited to be creating an inspiring and effective roadmap for our future and cannot wait to share it with all!

I had the privilege to welcome our SG Eija Salmi and my colleagues in our Cumulus Board to my home institution, Parsons School of Design at The New School, for the second board meeting of my service as Cumulus President this past February. This is the one board meeting outside the sequence of our two annual conferences; as a result it affords us more time to approach it with the reflexive and intentional mindset necessary for strategic planning.

We kicked-off our 3 days together with a terrific morning visit to the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Kim Robledo-Diga, Deputy Director of Education and my longtime colleague Cynthia Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, shared insights with us about the exhibitions, dynamic educational programs and immersive experiences that the museum’s team puts together to expose their audiences–but also many school-age children throughout the US who might never visit the museum’s premises in NYC–to the societal impact of design. Cynthia offered a reflection of the emerging trends she is spotting in how designers continue to practice design at the intersection of social concerns.

With a portfolio of exhibitions such as Design with the 90% (2017) and By the People: Designing a Better America (2016), Cynthia has been extending the work of many of us in the field with shows that bring a new awareness of these critical practices to a broad public of stakeholders. Our conversation with everyone from our board focused on the role of design education today globally and, to quote Cynthia, the ability “designers have … to bring vision to what’s already there. They take what might be seen as a problem and transform it as an asset to the community.” (Cynthia Smith, cited in We are Museums, 2019).

Back at The New School, we worked together on a multiplicity of operational decisions that will continue to shape the growth of our association, ranging from our review of new institutional member applications and future conference hosts for 2021 and 2022; meetings with representatives of prospective partner organizations; budget and financial planning; and last not but least, our ongoing work in strategic planning. Since our first board meeting as a team last October in Medellín, we have organized our board in sub-committees tackling priority areas that will amplify the value our members find in belonging to the Cumulus family. The NYC board meeting was designed to help us crystallize our goals for the Cumulus Strategic Plan 2019-2022 to be presented to all members in our upcoming General Assembly next June in Rome. In this milestone 30th anniversary year for Cumulus, I feel fortunate to be collaborating with peers who are such dedicated stewards of our association. We are excited to be creating an inspiring and effective roadmap for our future and cannot wait to share it with all!

Mariana Amatullo, PhD
Cumulus President

Vice Provost for Global Strategic Initiatives, The New School

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