2014 Sparking Innovation

A catalyst for change

If you saw any pictures from the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University at Arizona State University, there was the Brown School’s De Andrea Nichols onstage opening night, among a group of five students selected from a large pool of participants for their exemplary projects.

De Andrea Nichols at CGIU14

De Andrea Nichols (third from right) with President Bill Clinton at the opening plenary
of the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University

That Nichols’ work has reached the upper echelon of change agents in this country — in the world, really — is not a surprise to those who know her.

Nichols, an MSW candidate at the Brown School specializing in social entrepreneurship — and who earned her undergraduate degree from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts — was being recognized for her venture, Catalysts By Design.

Catalysts by Design not only serves organizational clients and partners; it teaches design skills and civic engagement to K-12 youth, and crowd-funds social change ideas. The idea, Nichols said, is “to equip individuals, organizations and communities with design tools that help them change the world.”

That’s only the beginning. Nichols, who also works for the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, will continue to work toward using design as a tool for community improvement. After graduation, she will work to grow Catalysts by Design and contribute to a variety of projects, including a city-wide project funded by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

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