Alumni in Action: Michelle Koenigsknecht ’10 helps advocate for creatives, design educators and students

In her role as director of marketing for AIGA, the Elon alumna and her team are working to provide resources to their members and the wider creative community during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Since relocating from North Carolina to New York City last fall, Michelle Pojasek Koenigsknecht ’10 has led the marketing strategy for AIGA, the design industry’s oldest and largest professional membership organization. In her role, the Elon alumna utilizes social media, email and internal communications channels to promote the nonprofit and its resources.

Similarly to other businesses and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Koenigsknecht and her team have developed strategies to assist the thousands of creative professionals who face uncertain situations or may have lost employment in recent weeks.

“We are advocates for the design community,” said Koenigsknecht, who studied strategic communications and business administration at Elon. “And right now a portion of our members are getting laid off, losing contracts as freelancers, or are in fear of losing clients due to budget cuts.”

Students and educators alike have also been heavily affected by the protocols in place to stop the spread of the virus, and flatten the curve. This is uncharted territory in the educational space, Koenigsknecht noted. Likewise, soon-to-be graduates who planned to enter the job force this year face unexpected challenges.

But Koenigsknecht and AIGA have developed a multitude of resources for their members as well as students, both individuals preparing to graduate and those returning to school in the fall.

“First, we have compiled design resources for students, freelancers, educators and more into a Community Resource Hub that lives on our website,” Koenigsknecht said. “We are also working on virtual programming through the national office. This programming includes virtual conference-style keynote speeches, webinars with actionable advice and information and career advice panels for students.”

Just last week AIGA and IIT Institute of Design partnered to host a panel for design professionals seeking jobs amidst COVID-19. The panelists provided tips for job seekers, job search strategy recommendations, and information about how companies are handling recruiting at this time.

Aside from her work, Koenigsknecht and her husband are assimilating to a new city, remaining optimistic, and taking it “one day at a time,” she said.

“In spite of everything, I am still extremely grateful for what we have at this time, and know that this experience will shed a light on how much we take simple experiences for granted,” she added.

Prior to working for AIGA, Koenigsknecht most recently served as director of marketing and communications for the Wilmington (N.C.) Chamber of Commerce and spent seven-plus years working in marketing and advertising in North Carolina.


AIGA, the professional association for design, advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. As the largest and most influential community of design advocates, AIGA brings together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and creates the vision for a collective future. AIGA defines global standards and ethical practices, guides design education, inspires designers and the public, enhances professional development, and makes powerful tools and resources accessible to all. Learn more at Follow @AIGAdesign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About this series: The Elon Alumni in Action series explores the stories of university graduates who are doing important and uplifting work as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic.