10.28.22: Panel Discussion – Can Teamwork Really Make the Dream Work?

Richmond Design Group connects, inspires, celebrates, and amplifies the designers of today and tomorrow in the Richmond area.

Panel Discussion

This month, we’ve invited a panel of teammates from Simple Thread to share their knowledge as they discover, define, design, and develop digital experiences for their clients. Learn all the secrets of how this close-knit team works together from Research to Deployment on a variety of B2B and B2C projects. We’ll dig into things like: managing client expectations, keeping your assets organized, handoff from team to team and agency to client, and more!

Space is limited so don’t forget to grab your ticket!


Stacey Warthen, Principal UX Designer, Simple Thread

Bio: Stacey has been crafting effective and intuitive experiences as a UX designer for 10+ years, working with a variety of clients and business verticals, from startups to enterprise businesses. She is particularly passionate about user research and creating inclusive, collaborative environments in the design and tech world.

Derek Heilmann, Senior UI/UX Designer, Simple Thread

Bio: Derek is a VCU grad with over 10 years of design experience at a variety of agencies and companies. He’s been working at Simple Thread for the last 4 years as the senior UI/UX designer managing design systems, interfaces and the overall user experience on a wide range of both B2B and B2C products.

Austin Carr, Senior Software Engineer, Simple Thread

Bio: 50% Designer, 50% Developer, 100% Hunk. Austin has worked professionally for 9 years making everything from library marketing websites to cyber security web apps. He loves harnessing the web to create delightful experiences that make people’s lives easier.

Coming 10.11.22: Social Hour at Ardent Craft Ales

Hey you! Richmond Design Group is officially back in session! Our first in-person meetup of the year takes place October 11 at Ardent Craft Ales from 5-7pm. Reconnect with old friends and make some new ones as we get together for this informal meet & greet social.

Get to know our Board for 2022-23, and join us as we kick off a season of programs to connect, inspire, celebrate, and amplify the designers of today and tomorrow in the Richmond area. Don’t forget to grab a ticket!

Meet our new board members for 2021-22!

Welcoming our new RUX officers and supporting members


Supporting Members

A hearty thank you

We give our heartfelt thanks for our outgoing officers and supporting members: Scott Childs, Sam Poulin, and Heather Schaefer.

And, a big shout-out to our community and those who attend our events and keep in touch!

Get to know the new board

Check out their bios and see you soon at our fall events!

Shannon Leahy (she, her)

Position: President

Fun fact: I’m a dual citizen of the US and Australia.

Why I joined the board: I’m grateful to all the people who helped me find my way into content design and UX, and I want to pay it forward by helping others learn something new or connect with others.

Lisa D. Dance (she, her)

Position: Vice President

Fun fact: My path to user experience started when I was 9 years old…

Megan McCalester (she, her)

Position: Secretary

Fun fact: I have lost over 100lbs. 

Why I joined the board: I joined the board to make a difference within the Richmond UX community. I discovered my passion for ux late within my career and I wish I had events and a group of passionate people give insights and support out when I was discovering my path.

Katie Moriarty (she, her)

Position: Treasurer

Fun fact: I have a furbaby that keeps me on my toes. His name is Maverick and yes, he’s a Maverick! 🙂 

Why I joined the board: I am passionate about increasing the visibility of design as a career opportunity to both students and career switchers. When I was presented with the opportunity to move into design, I did not realize the growth opportunities with it and now I’m very thankful I took that move! 

Lawrence Altaffer (he, him)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I once blew myself up with gunpowder. It got better.

Why I joined the board: I joined to be a part of the local UX community, to learn from others, and to share my unique background with others. 

Phoebe Atkins (she, her)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I was a Forensic Scientist and an English teacher in Spain before becoming a Product Designer

Why I joined the board: I became a supporting member to help cultivate an active and vibrant design community in RVA. As a career changer myself, I’m particularly passionate about helping aspiring designers get started in the field.

Pollie Barden (she, her)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: Completed half-marathon at Virginia Beach at beginning of 21st Century

Why I joined the board: There is so much potential in the Richmond UX/Design community. I want to be a part of bring us all together to learn and achieve great things together.

Chris Birkmeyer (he, him)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: While growing up, I have moved to 5 different states and 7 different cities.

Why I joined the board: I would like to share my experience and insights with the community. I also want to help educate the community on UX, as it is a passion of mine.

Tyrone Frye (he, him)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I conquered my fear of diving/sinking by jumping from a big rock into the Mediterranean.

Why I joined the board: I joined the board because I wanted to entrench myself into the RVA Design ecosystem. I had also been to a few events and was interested in how I could give back and be involved. I knew that there was a mentorship program in the works and that is something that greatly interests me since I’ve been around mentorship programs a lot in recent years. I even revamped and ran one for nearly a year until COVID happened.

Carl Joseph (he, him)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I have recently kicked off a new platform for RVA neighbors, small organizations and businesses to share about the impacts they are making in the city. It’s called On Behalf Of | Richmond.

Why I joined the board: I realized there’s a need for community and access to learning about design in the city of Richmond. I joined the board and I’m now supporting to to help fill needs where diverse perspectives can promote problems solving at a greater scale.

Ashley Moody (she, her)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I love reading (primarily contemporary fiction by POC).

Why I joined the board: To be more involved in the community especially around diversity.

Lauren Pleveich (she, her)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I have a 15×20 foot food forest taking up the entirety of my tiny backyard in Church Hill.

Why I joined the board: I want to understand how we can integrate with the broader Richmond community in positive ways. How do we dismantle the “tale of two Richmonds?”

Laura Smith (she, her)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: I’ve been riding motorcycles for 25 years. I can also wiggle my ears. Sometimes I do both of these things at the same time.

Why I joined the board: I really enjoy being a connector in the community. I love when I can connect people to other people, resources, or knowledge. Anything that helps someone develop a more meaningful relationship with the world around them.

James “Sully” Sullivan (he, him)

Position: Supporting Member

Fun fact: In the summer of 2018, I taught myself some basic woodworking skills and now a lot of my furniture in my living room is stuff I’ve built.

Why I joined the board: I’m really passionate about design and helping others navigate the crazy world of being a professional designer. The job itself can be tough but getting into a good job is even tougher. I want to provide any and all insight I can to designers in RVA.

UX Camp RVA – Oct 26


Richmond UX and Ladies who UX are combining forces to bring you a new event.


What is it?

This is an event where local designers come together and share their experiences to help each other become better together. The goal is to have designers of different experience levels come together and teach and learn from each other in 6 open sessions throughout the morning.


Who can attend?

Any of the talented designers in Richmond who have a concept for a talk, workshop, panel discussion or any other type of session that can help other designers get better. Come share your experiences with the community! Anyone who wants to learn more about UX, Design Thinking, IXD, Product or Design Strategy, Content Strategy, Front-End Development should attend.


When and where is it?

This is a half day crowdsourced event at VCU Brandcenter on Saturday,  October 26th from 9AM-12PM.

The cost is $20

Proceeds will benefit a local charity.

World IA Day Recap

Thank you all who came out to join us for World IA at VCU Brandcenter. The topic of the day was “Design for Difference” and we definitely got some difference in perspective and experiences that were shared. It was an amazing day full of thought-provoking speakers and panelists. As usual, we also had some lively discussion and got lot’s of divergent views and opinions on the table.

Kim Rees blew our minds from the outset talking about the influence of Data, Machine Learning and AI on design.

Our panel discussion, moderated by Erin White brought up some great points about the potential implications of not considering a diverse audience when you are designing.

Thanks again to Lisa Dance, Laura Turner Reid, and Scott Nixon for such a great discussion.

After lunch, we resumed with a really insightful look into designing a clinical research trial in Africa by Meghna Murali. Learning how to iterate a study around cultural norms very different than yours.

Then Samantha Willis introduced us to  and how we need to continue to unmask the pervasive prejudices that color our perspectives.

Then Zach Bryant helped us to consider both sides of a perspective when making our design decisions.

Finally, our closing keynote speaker Heather Winkle inspired us with her journey of achieving a deeper level of personal and professional fulfillment by “zooming out” to help take stock of where she was and where she wanted to be.

World IA Day in RVA!

WIAD19 theme illustration by Sketch Squad

It’s official! Richmond VA is going to be a host city for World IA Day in 2019.

  • What is World IA Day? It is a one-day, global festival of all things IA (Information Architecture), UX, Interaction Design, Design Strategy, User Research and related disciplines. Host cities around the world all have events on the same day.
  • When is it? Saturday, February 23 from 9-4:30 PM
  • Where will it be? It will be hosted at the VCU Brandcenter
    103 S Jefferson St, Richmond, VA 23284
  • Who should come?: Anyone interested in learning how design can change the world.
  • Is there a theme?: Design for Difference.

From their website:

“As designers, we are responsible for creating worlds of experiences, environments, services, and systems that impact millions of people – with lasting impacts. While we don’t have a Hippocratic Oath, it’s important for us to follow a similar goal to “do good” and “do not harm.” It is our responsibility as IA’s to consider the consequences and impact our design decisions have on humanity and society as a whole.

Research is a foundational step in the design process. It ensures that we understand and account for diverse user needs within communities, both in our own domains and globally.”

Learn more here: (https://www.worldiaday.org/2019)

Speakers and Panelists:

Kim Rees – Head of Data Experience Design, Capital One
Samantha Willis – Freelance Journalist
Zach Bryant – Creative Director, Journey Group
Meghna Murali – Clinical Research Coordinator, Children’s National Health System
Andrew Levasseur – Experience Design Chair, VCU Brandcenter
Lisa Dance – UX Analyst, Genworth
Laura Turner Reid – User Research Director, ICF Olson
Scott Nixon –  Manager of AI Systems Design, Capital One
Erin White – Head of Digital Engagement, VCU Libraries
Heather Winkle – VP of Card Design, Capital One


Go to our event page to register and save your spot!



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Our Sponsors:

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January Lightning Talks!

Thanks to everyone who came out to ICF Next last week for our January Lightning Talks with Ladies That UX and RVA Content Strategy. We saw some incredible speakers with great topics that challenged the way we approach our design solutions now and in the future.

Also a special thanks to our Sponsor Vitamin T for providing food and to ICF Next for hosting in their new office in downtown RVA.

We’ll see you all next month for World IA Day at VCU Brandcenter.


Photos from Lightning Talk!

Thank you to everyone who made it down to CarMax’s beautiful downtown office for our September Lightning Talk. Once again, we are grateful to Ladies Who UX and RVA Content Strategy for being our partners in this ongoing series.

Look for the next event in December at ICF Olson!

September RVA Lightning Talk


5:30-7:30 PM

CarMx Shockoe
140 Virginia St.
Richmond, VA 23219

Free Tickets:
Eventbrite Here

Gear up for a great fall with another round of lightning talks from Richmond UX, Ladies that UX, and RVA Content Strategy. We’re bringing together pros from the Richmond design community to share their tips and techniques on how to succeed in a constantly evolving field.

Here are this month’s speakers:


Terry Peters |  Experience Director: ICF Olson

Talk: Communicating Design

Design is a complex process composed of many smaller activities: listening, analyzing, evaluating, brainstorming, synthesizing, experimenting, composing, describing, discussing, exploring, reacting, and countless others. Documenting is not one of these activities, but engaging in any of these activities yields artifacts—diagrams, notes, sketches, lists, inventories, annotations, and larger documents—that result from the act of performing the task. At the same time, each task requires inputs, and these artifacts that come from doing design are the same things that can help feed the design process. The success of the task directly relates to the quality of the inputs and may be measured on the quality of its outputs. So how does one effectively make use of these to communicate the fruits of their labors?

Bio: Talented user experience leader with 12 years of proven experience in the development and implementation of enterprise digital strategies, user-centered research and systems design with clients such as AARP, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Chik-fil-A, Johnson Controls, Scripps Networks, and The Nature Conservancy. Experienced team leader capable of mentoring cross-functional teams and fostering relationships to transform business and design needs into valuable and usable working products.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/terry-peters-m-s-8198b61b/

Katie-Moriarty-smKatie Moriarty | UX Research: Snag

Talk: You Don’t Have to Be a Researcher to Do User Research

We’ll discuss the value of observational research, how to do this type of research yourself, and how to apply your learnings to your day-to-day practice. Katie will use her own experiences to illustrate how accessible observational research can be.

Bio: Katie is a User Experience Researcher at Snag. Her work focuses on helping Snag’s product development teams gain a greater understanding of hourly workers and employers so they can design and build products that solve their users true pain points. Katie has experience in conducting a wide range of qualitative research methods to uncover key insights that are both meaningful and actionable to stakeholders.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katiemoriarty/

Ramakrishnan Headshot3 copyAdarsh Ramakrishnan | Freelance Product Consultant

Talk: A Figma(nt) of Your Imagination — Streamlining your design flow using Figma

Explore how Figma can help you consolidate your entire design flow, letting you design, prototype, and spec in one platform.

Bio: Adarsh is a product consultant who specializes in strategy and design. As part of his consulting services, he has designed and built visual systems for digital products across multiple platforms. He is also teaches engineering design to students from non-technical majors through the VCU Da Vinci Center.


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adarshramakrishnan/

Website: http://adarshramakrishnan.com

Matt-McGhan-CropMatt McGhan | Experience Designer: Singlestone

Talk: Healthy Design Systems Make Better Products

Bio: Midwest farm boy turned East Coast experience designer. Went from drawing animals, sports cards, and airplanes to designing visual experiences via VCU to non-profit to SingleStone. Lover of people and their day-to-day interactions with designed & digital things.


Twitter: @mattigan

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-mcghan-b83bab5/

The Space

CarMax Shockoe 


Located in the historic Lady Byrd Hat building in downtown Richmond, this innovation center is a hub for dynamic, bleeding-edge creative work.

Lightning Talks 2 Recap

Thank you to everyone who attended our 2nd Design Lightning talk last week at the 1717 Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom. Our 4 speakers presented useful and thought-provoking material that inspired a lively Q and A session. We had a great time, learned a lot and got to meet some new people.

Some photos from the event:

We will be adding links to our speakers’ presentations here:

Adarsh Ramakrishnan – How PM and UX can play nice


Ashley Cook – User Research Coming Together