DirectorCompany: Diversity in Design
Role: Day Two General Session Speaker / Guest Speaker
Todd Palmer is a strategist, curator, designer and facilitative leader of purpose-driven platforms whose work centers collaborative and networked approaches to contemporary challenges. As Director of the Diversity in Design Collaborative he steers a start-up driven by more than 55 organizations in the business of design that aligned to confront systemic barriers faced by Black talent at critical moments in the design lifecycle.
As the former Executive Director of the Chicago Architecture Biennial Todd led a start-up design platform’s emergence as a recognized force for local benefit, with global reach. Over two editions in 2017 and 2019 Todd cultivated collaborations binding together cultural institutions, professional organizations, government bodies, corporate sponsors and philanthropic funders, to define a program that bridged gaps between planetary design issues and Chicago grassroots and neighborhood concerns. Previously, as curator and associate director of the National Public Housing Museum from 2013-2016, Todd facilitated advocacy efforts to rehabilitate an at-risk community site, devising a cultural framework for engaging diverse publics, including disinvested community members, in issues of power and equity in the built environment.
Palmer’s transdisciplinary efforts as a creative leader have been profiled in range of media outlets: most recently the DID Collaborative’s diversity efforts straddling design industries and sectors under Palmer’s leadership was recognized with a 2022 Fast Company Innovation By Design Award. As a creative, Todd designed prototypes to illuminate inequitable conditions for immigrant informal businesses for Harlemworld at the Studio Museum (2004) and created permanent public artworks illustrating the value of cultural diversity for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. His design thinking ideas have been published in Columbia University’s The Avery Review (2015) and Illinois Institute of Technology’s Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize catalogue (2022).
Todd graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in Architecture History & Theory, from Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, and a MArch from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, New York. As a speaker, moderator and panelist, Todd has been a frequent contributor to public dialogues spanning local and global scales on the value of collaboration to social, cultural and civic futures.