With the support of Design Thinking Catalysts, we are enhancing…


Elon By Design’s work across the university and beyond ensures that Elon students, faculty, and staff have the ability and confidence to respond to wicked problems with design thinking processes, methods and mindsets as they shape purposeful, impactful lives.

Experiential Learning

Elon journeys include practical design thinking learning opportunities, university services shaped by design thinking, and design-thinking influenced workshops, programs, courses, research opportunities, internships.


Real World Projects

Elon By Design is supporting and enhancing a cross-sector, global practitioner network with projects where students develop design thinking skills and Elon By Design actively participates in evolving design practice.

Danielle Lake

Director of Design Thinking, and Associate Professor

Danielle Lake has over ten years of experience creating implementing, and assessing innovative curricula designed to build student and community-capacity for addressing wicked problems. This experience has positioned her well to continue her work as an institutional leader, cross-campus consultant, and teacher-scholar of civic engagement.

With a Ph.D. in philosophy, her teaching and scholarship interests bridge Design Thinking and wicked problems research with the public engagement movement. Prior courses include “Design Thinking to Meet Real World Needs,” “Wicked Problems of Sustainability,” “Dialogue, Integration, and Action,” and “Reflect, Connect, Engage.”

As the former coordinator of the award-winning Accelerated Leadership Program and research lead for ten engaged department initiatives across three institutions, she also has leadership experience creating and assessing collaborative and innovative engagement projects that span curricular programs and bridge the university-community divide.

Lake received Early Career Recognition from the International Association of the Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement in 2018, the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement from the American Democracy Project in 2017, the John Lachs Award for Public Philosophy in 2016, and the Jane Addams Prize from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy in 2014.

Lake is coeditor of the book series, Higher Education and Civic Democratic Engagement: Exploring Impact, with Peter Lang Publishing. She is currently interested in exploring the long-term impact of design thinking practices and pedagogies of resilience. Recent publications can be found at

Lake is committed to partnering with students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding Elon community in order to support design thinking initiatives.

Dr. Tracey Thurnes


Elon’s Design Thinking Curricular Catalyst is a faculty member who supports the infusion of Design Thinking pedagogies across Elon curriculum.  The Curricular Catalyst advances Design Thinking curricular initiatives through facilitating communities of practice, consulting with faculty, and by providing resources for infusing Design Thinking methods and processes into curriculum.


Creating opportunities to increase faculty experience, confidence, and competence in implementing high impact practices rooted in Design Thinking across all disciplines.


The curricular catalyst serves as a connector for faculty across the university who want to increase students’ capacity for experiential learning with design thinking processes and methods. The curricular catalyst also works closely with the Director to design and facilitate communities of practice around design thinking pedagogies that develop collaborative relationships with faculty members interested in design thinking.


Dr. Tracey Thurnes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. She has worked closely with the Center for Design Thinking to apply design thinking processes and methods within the health sciences in both the undergraduate and graduate student populations. Her work focuses on applying design thinking concepts to develop critical thinking skills and leadership and professional competencies to positively impact learning outcomes to create solutions-oriented graduates.

Tyson Glover ’17


Elon’s Design Thinking Co-Curricular Catalyst is a faculty or staff member that creates, supports, and celebrates co-curricular design thinking experiences, events, and initiatives. The Co-Curricular Catalyst works as an ambassador with the Elon community to support Design Thinking initiatives. Assisting in connecting students, faculty, and staff to relevant resources offered in the center for Design Thinking.


Creating extra-curricular opportunities for Elon students, faculty and staff to gain the confidence and ability to apply design thinking’s process, methods and mindset to challenges.


The CCC designs, supports, and facilitates co-curricular design thinking experiences intended for Elon and surrounding communities. The CCC assists the Director and other Catalysts in achieving the Elon by Design Mission. This includes:

  • Developing expertise and leading (both creating and facilitating) 4-6 extra-curricular design thinking experiences throughout the academic year.
  • Serving as a design thinking ambassador to Elon students, faculty, staff, and community members; attending design events whenever possible.
  • Providing mentorship to one or more student catalyst and guidance to the Director in relationship to the CCC initiatives, meeting with the director and/or student catalysts weekly/bi-weekly.


Tyson Glover ’17 was among the first students to graduate from the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation. He is a passionate and enthusiastic advocate for the Design Thinking process and social innovation. Tyson is a co-founder of the organization Phoenix Flops, a proud Elon alumnus, and founder of the local start-up Food Drivers. He is eager to connect, create, and collaborate with Elon as the Co-Curricular Catalyst.

Dr. Wen Guo


Elon’s Design Thinking Research Catalyst is a faculty member who engages in, supports, and advances the critical study of design thinking. In addition to engaging in their own DT studies, the research catalyst also supports and advances the research accomplishments of Elon faculty, students, and staff across internal and external academic communities.


Creating research opportunities for Elon students, faculty and staff to gain the experience, confidence, and competence to apply design thinking’s process, methods and mindsets to challenges.


The research catalyst 1) offers mentorship, training, and guidance to help students develop research skills and ideas inspired by design thinking across disciplines; 2) works with the director of the Center to study design thinking practices and innovation in higher education; 3)  develops collaborative relationships and research opportunities with faculty members interested in design thinking.


Dr. Wen Guo is an Assistant Professor of Art Administration in the Department of Art. She worked closely with Dr. Danielle Lake on mentoring students’ research on design thinking in the summer of 2020.  She studies the application of design thinking in arts administration education. She intensively infuses design thinking and entrepreneurship into an accessible teaching model for undergraduate students in artistic disciplines for their professional career preparation. She currently serves as a board member of the American Journal of Arts Management.


Elon’s Design Thinking Catalysts are students developing ways design thinking supports their learning and goals while supporting the Center for Design Thinking, the Elon By Design Initiative, and students, staff, faculty and community members.


Creating opportunities for Elon students, faculty and staff to gain the confidence and ability to apply design thinking’s process, methods and mindset to challenges.


Assist the Director and other Catalysts in achieving the Mission; develop expertise and lead the Team in their focus area; diligently pursue the Learning; maintain a presence in the Center; serve as DT ambassadors to the Elon community; participate in delivering workshops and events


Design thinking is less about creativity and more about using discipline to direct and focus creativity. A Catalyst models this disciplined creativity for others. Each Catalyst develops a specialty then owns everything related to their specialty and leads the team in that area.

Student Design Thinking Catalysts

Mikayla Ford ’22

Major: Communication Design

Minor: Entrepreneurship & Photography

Member of: Limelight and Design For America

My Design Thinking Experience: I use design thinking in my entrepreneurship class to come up with new project ideas. I also use it with the on-campus organization DFA to innovate for social good.

Orlanzel Washington ’22

Photo of Orlanzel Washington

Major: Engineering

Minor: Biology

Member of: Men of Distinction

My Design Thinking Experience: Design Thinking allowed me to think in a different way about exploring more options, helping me navigate toward reaching my goals.

Brooke Galonek ’21

Photo of Brooke Galonek

Major: Strategic Communications

Minor: Professional Selling

Member of: Tri Sigma, Live Oak Communications, Communications Fellows

My Design Thinking Experience: I use Design Thinking in my classes and, as agency director of Live Oak Communications, to generate new ideas and to problem solve in order to achieve any goal.

Soniyah Robinson ’23

Soniyah Robinson

Major: Journalism

Minor: Entrepreneurship

Member of: Black Student Union Communications Committee and SMART Mentor Program

My Design Thinking Experience: Design Thinking allows me to fully evaluate problems and create innovative and effective solutions. It is useful for me in different areas academically and socially.

Isabel Manella ’21

Major: Strategic Communications

Minor: Business Administration

Member of: Phi Mu, Girls in Motion

My Design Thinking Experience: Design Thinking allows me to create a step by step vision of my ideas that have been helpful towards group projects and personal goals. Being able to use the design thinking process to map out my solution has made the process seem less overwhelming and more manageable. 

Maggie Cox ’23

Major: Engineering

Minor: Spanish

Member of: Alpha Omicron Pi, Danceworks, University Innovation Fellows

My Design Thinking Experience: Design thinking helps me efficiently understand the problem and come up with innovative solutions in my engineering courses. I hope to continue working on applying design thinking to all aspects of my life.

Jackie Baumann ’22

Major: Strategic Communications and Marketing

Member of: Business Fellows, Tri Delta

My Design Thinking Experience: I use design thinking to help visualize my future and create pathways to success in order to envision a life I actually want to live. I also use design thinking in my fellows classes, as collaborative work is essential in being successful.

Rane Parr ’24

Major: Engineering


Member of: Engineering Scholars, Club Swim, oSTEM

My Design Thinking Experience: As a Catalyst, I hope to guide others through the Design Thinking process to meet their goals in the classroom, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. After Elon, Design Thinking skills will help me develop and implement projects as an engineer.

Hannah Miller ’23

Major: Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Member of: Cross Country and Track, Elon Sustainability, Honors Fellows

My Design Thinking Experience: Design Thinking helps me break my problems down into manageable tasks. It also encourages me to be more collaborative and creative in my coursework.

Kait MacIntyre ’22

Major: Strategic Communications and Media Analytics

Member of: Elon PRSSA, Live Oak Communications, Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows, Kernodle Center for Civic Life

My Design Thinking Experience: I became a catalyst because the process of Design Thinking perfectly mixes realistic action with creative solutions, and I think that skill should be shared with as many people as possible! Design Thinking is so flexible in my life, I use it everyday and am excited to have the opportunity to share it with others.

Danielle DaSilva ’24

Major: Applied Mathematics

Member of: Honors Fellows and Elon Volunteers

My Design Thinking Experience: Design Thinking enables me to see and solve problems in a unique way in order to better the world around me. Design Thinking enables me to set and achieve goals in order to be successful both in the classroom and in life.

Ellie Levine ’22

Major: Marketing


Member of: Sigma Kappa, Sigma Iota Epsilon (Business Fraternity), Challah for Hunger

My Design Thinking Experience: Design Thinking helps me throughout my daily life. With Design Thinking, I am able to look at any problem or roadblock in my life and figure out a creative and efficient solution to those issues. I hope that as I continue to think in this way, it will help me succeed in my academics, but also my social life experiences.

Sonali Schroder ’24

Major: Arts Administration

MinorArt, Spanish

Member of: EMPRESS, Elon College Fellows, El Centro, SMART

My Design Thinking Experience: Design thinking has helped me conceptualize and understand everything from my school assignments to my biggest life goals. By using design thinking, I can craft meaningful experiences and design the life I want to live.

Sarah Gaynor ’24

Major: Engineering


Member of: Club Soccer, Women in Computer Science

My Design Thinking Experience: What I love most about design thinking is that it celebrates creativity, promotes change, and brings people together by valuing differences in thought.

Center for Design Interns

Danielle Schall ’22

Research Catalyst

Major: International Business

Minor: French, Finance

Member of: Alpha Xi Delta, French Club, Parent’s Night Out

Projects: Editor and Research Coordinator for Design Internship Team

Meg Boericke ’21

Lead Brand Strategist & Graphic Designer

Program: M.A. Interactive Media

Undergrad: BFA Dance Performance and Choreography, B.S. Strategic Communications (Elon ’20)

Projects: Center for Design Thinking brand identity, marketing, and promotional materials

Emily Prins ’23

Videography Intern

MajorJournalism, Cinema and Television Arts

MinorPolitical Science

Member ofHonors Fellows, Elon Admissions, Elon Tonight, elondocs, Elon Votes, Home is Distant Shores Film Festival

Projects: Videography and photography for the Center and associated collaboratives


Olivia James ’21

Interaction Design Lead

MajorM.A. Interactive Media

UndergradBFA Dance Performance and Choreography (Elon ’20)

Projects: Elon By Design website and Center branding

Katie Murphy ’22

Elon 101 Special Project

Major: Strategic Communications

Minor: Sport Management and Leadership Studies

Member of: Sigma Kappa, Student Union Board, Elon Volunteers!

Projects: Integrate Design Thinking into Elon 101


Katelyn Litvan ’24


MajorStrategic Communications


Member ofHonors Program, Elonthon

Projects: Author articles about events and other updates for the Center

Alexandra Strouse ’22

Communications Intern

MajorDance Performance and Choreography, Strategic Communications

Member of: Elon Dance Company, Elon’s Finest, Alpha Omicron Pi

Projects: Designing and creating visuals to support workshops, Speaker Series 2021, Power and Place Collaborative, Design Thinking research


Courtney Callahan ’22

Event Coordinator

MajorStrategic Communications

MinorProfessional Sales

Member ofZeta Tau Alpha

Projects: Design Forge 2021, Elon By Design website

Ciani Foy ’22

Communications Catalyst

MajorCommunication Design

MinorPoverty and Social Justice

Member ofThe Village Project, Global Education Center’s Communications Team

Projects: Pop-Up & Play

Sarah McDonald ’21

Communications Catalyst

MajorCommunication Design

MinorMultimedia Authoring

Member ofElon Marching Band