Hello, I’m Heather Emerson

Managing Director

I lead a community of multidisciplinary designers in creating positive change in education through design. My work focuses on using service design thinking to bridge the gap between digital experiences and the dynamic learning environments they support.

What you won’t learn from my bio:
I’m from Detroit, which may explain why I’ve always been obsessed with urban planning.

Joined IDEO:

Full Bio

Heather Emerson is a Senior Director of the education portfolio at IDEO San Francisco. Heather leads teams, clients and a community of multidisciplinary designers in applying design thinking to an array of challenges in the education sector, with the goal of designing innovative human-centered experiences that create positive change.

Heather brings her expertise as a service designer to envision holistic experiences—spanning physical space and digital—that are inspired by human needs. Since joining IDEO in 2005, Heather has worked on a range of challenges across industries that include: building tools to support financial literacy, bringing new product offerings to life, choreographing retail experiences, and using digital storytelling to meaningfully connect people to brands. Heather has worked with partners in the education sector to create digital tools to personalize learning, develop an app to support first-generation college student success, and incubate an offering to help high school students discover their purpose. She brings her passion for culture, community and storytelling to frame complex, systems challenges in simple and engaging ways.

Heather holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Art Center College and brings her background in Sociology from the University of Michigan to her unique approach to the discipline.

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