Impact and other insights - Q&A with trustee Katie Crepeau

We are extremely proud to have Katie Crepeau on our board of trustees. Katie is an architect and writer focused on design and social enterprise. She pairs her professional experience in the architecture field with communications to help designers improve project delivery, organisational strategy and contribute to the broader development of the design field.

Two years in, we wanted to hear her take on things:

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passions...

I began my career as an architect 10 years ago, working on homes and adaptive reuse projects in small practices. However, in the past three years I've shifted my work to fully focus on social impact design through writing, research and content strategy. This was a gradual transition that began with volunteer projects in marginalised communities, which led me to want to figure out how to make social impact design a viable career path.

(Image: K. Crepeau)

(Image: K. Crepeau)

Even though I was able to support myself through writing - and learned a ton through interviews, workshops and reading - there are still many unanswered questions I have about careers in social impact design.

These questions (or knowledge gaps) are what I'm looking to dive into next. Funding, organisational development, communication and collaboration with analogous industries (like impact investing, social enterprise, community organising and activism) are the current topics on my radar. Whether it's writing, workshops, orchestrating projects or consulting, that's where I'll be focusing my efforts for the next few years.

  • Why did you join AzuKo's board?

There were a few things about AzuKo that attracted me to join. First, Jo's infectious positive attitude and honest commitment to public interest design made me want to work with her. She's truly a rare gem in the architecture and sustainable development fields, and I couldn't let an opportunity to learn from her pass me by.

Second, after I had worked with a friend to develop a social impact design firm, I was interested in being involved from a slightly different angle - one where I could share my experience and skill set but not necessarily be directly involved in the day-to-day activities as I was pursuing other work.

Through mentors that I’ve had in the past, I’ve found that it’s important to share relevant knowledge, and so I feel it’s my turn to pass along what I’ve learned.

Last, I had recently moved to the UK when AzuKo invited me to the board and I thought it was a perfect opportunity for an international knowledge share - I could learn more about social impact design in the UK and share my knowledge of the field in the US. The past two years with AzuKo have opened my eyes up to the differences and similarities in each country, and beyond with AzuKo working in Bangladesh, too.

  • What specific skills and experience do you bring to the team?

With the variety of roles I've held in the past, I try to tap into my mixed toolbox of skills dependent on AzuKo's current needs. My training and licensing in architecture brings experience with programming, budgeting, contracts, and project management and delivery. I also share learning and methods in the areas I'm currently exploring in social impact design: organisational development, impact assessment, research and scoping projects, and funding.

(Blog: K. Crepeau)

(Blog: K. Crepeau)

My experience running two blogs (Design Affects and Impact Design Hub) has taught me about communications, marketing and digital strategy, which I pass along to AzuKo as much as possible. Along with these hard skills, I try to connect AzuKo with peers and colleagues I've met along my own journey in social impact design.

  • Can you tell us about a highlight in AzuKo's journey so far, that you have been involved in?

Shortly after joining AzuKo's board, I hosted a series of impact assessment workshops to plan and implement methods for AzuKo's projects and organisational development. It was a new practice for all of us but I was excited that the team was willing to dive into and pick apart the organisation's business plan in order to uncover future possibilities. We just scratched the surface and have much more to do but it was good to start early!

(Photo: C. Tunnacliffe)

(Photo: C. Tunnacliffe)

  • How has working with AzuKo impacted you?

AzuKo has helped me identify gaps where social impact designers need more information. It's given me a platform to explore approaches to addressing these gaps - namely in impact assessment, fundraising and communications. It's also been a place where I can feel involved in a project-based design organisation, as writing was more of a 30,000 ft interaction with the field.

  • Where do you hope AzuKo will be in 10 years?
My vision for AzuKo in 10 years’ time is as an established and well-known design organisation that is sharing methods, theories and approaches with a wide audience.

Given Jo's experience, I can also see how AzuKo could easily lead new areas of research and practice in sustainable development. I'm really excited to see how it develops and I will continue to contribute to the organisation's growth as much as possible.

  • What advice would you give others who are interested in becoming a trustee or supporting a charity?

Do it! I would advise to find an organisation that aligns with your interests, develop a relationship with them, discover what skills they need and make sure it's mutually beneficial for both you and the charity. This will make it a longer lasting relationship. Plus, you never know where it'll take you.