Design Strategist
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Humanizing Veteran Services

Prototyping transformational change for West Point Academy and humanizing Veteran Services.

Design Workshop with Army Officers

Design Workshop with Army Officers

 
 
 
At first, I was extremely skeptical of the idea that empathy had any place in problem-solving. However, this trip showed me that empathy is not just a nice idea but a real skill that can yield powerful insights.
— Cadet Dillon Biggs
 
 

PROJECT OUTCOME

A list of recommendations for DVS, a 10-day immersive experience focused on design thinking for West Point cadets and faculty, and a transformational change prototype.

GENERAL INFO

Partners: The New York City Department of Veterans Services, West Point, Foossa
Team: Daniela V Sanchez, David Colby Reed,
Lauren Atkins, and Lee-Sean Huang
Location: New York
Role: Design Strategist and Facilitator


 
 
 

CONTEXT

In August 2017, Foossa collaborated with NYC Veterans (The New York City Department of Veterans Services ,  also known as DVS) and a group of West Point (the U.S. Military Academy focused on developing leaders in the U.S. Army) cadets, faculty and staff to better understand and address the challenges faced by people in the military transitioning back to civilian life.

The collaboration was kicked off at West Point with two intensive days of workshops that focused on using human-centered design for creative problem-solving.


MY ROLE

My role in the project focused on two core areas:

  1. Facilitator & Educator - facilitating workshops with cadets and West Point faculty, guiding the group through the human-centered design process from research to development.

  2. Design Strategist - planning and creating activities for the workshops, and connecting West Point cadets and faculty with veterans and other stakeholders.


OUTCOME

A list of recommendations for DVS, a 10-day immersive experience focused on design thinking for West Point cadets and faculty, and a transformational change prototype.

 
The experience highlighted the value of patience and active listening as keys to the most substantive and fruitful dialogue.
— Cadet Amy Yang
 

Emphasizing the need for empathic understanding, active listening, systems thinking, and human-centered problem-solving techniques, the immersive experience acted as an important mark in West Point education. While the immediate outcome of the project was the development of the 10-day immersive experience focused on human-centered design for West Point cadets and faculty, the project also led to two additional outcomes. 

  1. A list of recommendations to improve DVS services (The Department of Veterans Services). 

  2. The 10-day experience in itself acted as a prototype for long-term collective transformational change at West Point and DVS, specifically pointing to the potential use of human-centered design as the means to help create new mental models and drive empathy, mental agility, adaptability, and resiliency from Army leaders.

 
This unique experience was eye opening for me. Through dialogue around creativity and identity, I discovered a lot about myself and what I aspire to be. I came to learn that helping people and taking chances are two ideas that I will live by.
— Cadet Delaney Marbach