1. Home
  2. /
  3. Executive Director Announcement

Executive Director Announcement

Providence, RI – DESIGNxRI announced today that Ellie Brown has been appointed the new Executive Director of the organization. An experienced nonprofit development professional, artist, photography and design educator, Brown will succeed Lisa Carnevale and assume responsibilities on July 7, 2022.

DESIGNxRI Board President Nick Scappaticci shares, “This marks a new chapter in advancing DESIGNxRI’s vision to create a thriving design community rooted in purpose and equity. We’re excited to bring Ellie on board to build on the work of this past decade. Ellie’s leadership and management experience will steward the future of the design sector in Rhode Island.

Ellie Brown brings to DxRI decades of successful nonprofit and private sector experience from California to Rhode Island, including an impressive track record in grant writing and fundraising as well as a critical commitment to social justice and DEIJ.

Attending and volunteering at DxRI events since 2016, Brown is positioned to hit the ground running and drive the future of the organization based on a strong understanding of the critical role DxRI plays in the state’s economy and fully ensconced in its member community.

Ellie Brown shares “Stepping into Lisa’s shoes is no small feat. I am honored to take the dedication, love, community-building, and hard work she has put into DESIGNxRI and build from that strong foundation. I’m most looking forward to making the organization more inclusive to Rhode Island creatives who may not yet know that they are welcome in our community AND getting to know the creatives that currently make our design community so strong.

“For years, DESIGNxRI has been growing thanks to a smart, engaging, and thoughtful staff, board, and community,” stated Lisa Carnevale, Co-Founder and exiting Executive Director. “Ellie has been part of this community and brings a development and creative skill set that is valuable to our next chapter as an organization. I’m happy to be handing over the reins and excited to see how DESIGNxRI continues to grow under Ellie’s leadership.”

Brown received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from San Jose State University, both in Photography. She also attended the Institute for Nonprofit Practice in 2017. Brown has an extensive exhibition, artist residency, and publication history.

3/17/2022 Letter from DESIGNxRI Co-Founder, Lisa Carnevale+

3/17/2022 Letter from DESIGNxRI Co-Founder, Lisa Carnevale

For the past nine years, I’ve opened most every DxRI event with my introduction as “co-founder and executive director”. Sometimes a bit fumbly, but all of the time with a smile on my face as I looked into the crowd that has grown with us.

As we enter into our 10th year, I’m excited to step aside in this role and do my part to usher in new dynamic and amazing leadership to this dynamic and amazing organization.

I founded this organization with three partners and many enthusiastic collaborators, thought partners and co-conspirators. While we began with our seed funding in 2013, the idea had been developing for some years. The energy of starting something focused on the design community in Rhode Island was generative; it built on itself, it continued to feed, grow and flourish. We envisioned what design by Rhode Island really meant, we laughed at naming the monthly event Clambake, and supported each other in making design shine in our state.

Since we’ve truly done incredible things together.

  • We gathered thousands annually at DESIGN WEEK RI (even through COVID!);
  • We heard from over 133 Clambake speakers and honored each other through the RI Design Hall of Fame;
  • We’ve invested over $1 million into 60 design businesses and mentored our design business leaders in Design Catalyst;
  • We created a directory of design (new one is coming, really!) and promoted the sector nationally;
  • We’ve advanced skills in design strategy while creating solutions for community partners in the DFWD Design Challenge;
  • We even danced all night long in crazy awesome costumes at the Designers’ Ball.

And we’ve done all of this in the name of Design by Rhode Island.

What I knew when this organization began to formalize was that I wanted to lead it to a certain point where it felt right to pass on. We are at this point. For years, DxRI has been growing thanks to a smart, engaging, and thoughtful board, staff and community. We’ve come through these last couple of years even more resolute. The time is good.

This evolution is innate in nonprofit organizations; our community directs our work, our executive leadership stewards its impact, and the cycle continues in revolutions of growth. What comes next is as much an exciting opportunity for me as it is for the organization. I can’t wait to see how it shapes under new leadership. It’s the mark of a truly valuable organization, that it can continue its mission ~ ours being to create an opportunity-driven environment for the RI design sector to thrive ~ and do so with new leadership that will help us continue to shape, shift and serve.

I want to thank you all for being part of the DESIGNxRI community. It’s with your support, interest, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and engagement that we have been able to do the work we have in these years. And it will be with this same effort ~ with YOU ~ that we continue to do great work for the design community in Rhode Island.

I hope you’ll join me in continuing to invest and support this next stage in DESIGNxRI’s evolution!

Until soon,

3/17/2022 Letter from DESIGNxRI Board President, Nick Scappaticci+

3/17/2022 Letter from DESIGNxRI Board President, Nick Scappaticci

On behalf of the entire Board, we would like to thank Lisa for her dedication and her unwavering passion for DESIGNxRI and our community. We look forward to continuing to work together and will be the first to champion her next move.

Lisa’s leadership has enabled DESIGNxRI to grow and flourish over the past 10 years. Together, we’ve navigated through shared challenges, celebrated our achievements, and established a solid foundation that points to many opportunities for future growth. We look forward to embracing these opportunities and advancing the organization’s vision to create a thriving design community rooted in purpose and equity. And with that, we will begin our search for our next Executive Director.

The new Executive Director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for DESIGNxRI’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. The ideal candidate will have the leadership and management skills to take DESIGNxRI to the next level, stewarding the future of the design sector in Rhode Island. This is an excellent opportunity for a strategic, process-minded leader with experience leading a collaborative and diverse team to create an environment for RI designers, design businesses, and the design sector to thrive.

To aid in this process, we’ve established a Search Committee, supported by our board, external advisors and DESIGNxRI staff, that is committed to undertaking the process of appointing Lisa’s successor.

Our goal is to have a permanent Executive Director in place by this Summer. In the meantime, Lisa, the talented staff and committed board at DESIGNxRI will continue to create opportunities for design to be part of our communities’ personal and professional lives.

If you or someone you know is interested in this position you can view the job description and application here.