Cheryl Heller

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Cheryl Heller
Cheryl Heller.jpg
Nationality American
Education Ohio Wesleyan University
Goddard College
RMIT University, Design PhD Candidate
Known for Founding the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts
Nonprofit contributions
Awards AIGA award, 2014[1]

Cheryl Heller is an American business strategist and designer. She is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts, founder of the design lab CommonWise and winner of the AIGA Medal for her contribution to the field of design.[2][3][4] She is a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellow.[5]


Heller earned a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts at Ohio Wesleyan University, and later studied at Goddard College, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Heller is currently working toward a PhD in Design from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.[6]

Design career[edit]

Heller spent the first part of her career working on product launches for various corporations. In 2003, she began to partner with entrepreneurs and organizations to further social and environmental projects. She founded a design department within an advertising agency (HellerBreene, Boston, part of WCRS Group). Heller is the former Board Chair and current Adviser to PopTech[7], a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab[8], on the Innovation Advisory Board for the Lumina Foundation, and serves as an adviser to DataKind.[9]

In 1999, she created the "Ideas that Matter" program for Sappi, a global fine paper company, which awards grants to designers working on social and environmental projects.[10] Heller served as an adviser to Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum on the exhibit, "Design for the Other 90%."[11] She is a Matrix Award winner for excellence in communication and has been profiled through articles in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, BusinessWeek and many others. She has written for many publications on the subject of social innovation design and creativity.


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