ID Instructor Chris Rudd Selected as 2021 IMPACT Fellow

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By Andrew Connor

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Christopher Rudd, an instructor specializing in community-driven design at Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design (ID), has been chosen as one of 38 individuals to participate in Chicago Urban League’s IMPACT Leadership Development Program for 2021. The program, first started in 2014, is an intensive fellowship to assist Black professionals in advancing in their careers and bolstering the diversity of professional leaders in Chicago.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by an organization like the Chicago Urban League, which has for decades done so much for Black people,” says Rudd. “The IMPACT program is the latest manifestation of meaningful programming aimed at empowering Black leaders to positively impact the Black community.”

As a human-centered designer and a community organizer with a passion for social justice, Rudd has leveraged his design skills to bridge the gap between the tech and design professions with members of the community. He has assisted young people in the creation of eight different civic apps, including Expunge.io, which helps youths connect with pro bono lawyers to complete the record expungement process. He also founded ChiByDesign, a human-centered design firm dedicated to empowering community members through design. Recently, he was featured in Print magazine as one of the design profession’s leading Black voices.

During his time in the IMPACT program, Rudd plans to use the experience to better understand the needs of Chicago communities and to make connections to other Black leaders in the city to expand the reach of his community-driven design practice.

“I believe the curriculum of the program will further develop my understanding of Chicago and why communities are in the position that we currently have,” says Rudd. “The camaraderie developed among the fellows will also open doors to create new and meaningful opportunities to work with Chicagoans to design new anti-racist futures for the city. I am excited to build with and learn from the other fellows in the program because they are an impressive group committed to making meaningful change.”

The intensive, nine-month fellowship began in September and is run in collaboration with the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. 

“Chris has established himself as a thought leader in design thinking in Chicago. We were impressed by his professional expertise and his deep track record as a community organizer working with youth in the South and West Sides of Chicago,” says Mavis Laing, executive director of the IMPACT Leadership Development Program. “IMPACT’s mission is to build a pipeline of emerging leaders who not only will thrive in their careers, but will also have a lasting impact in their communities and Chris represents that ideal.”

Photo: Christopher Rudd, an instructor specializing in community-driven design at the Institute of Design