Volunteer of the Month for January 2020

RGD thanks Donna Graffi-Smith RGD, Art Director for the National Design Studio at Deloitte, for her contributions to our community.


Donna has been an in-house designer since she graduated from York University/Sheridan College Program in Design where she received her Bachelor of design with Honours.


Q: How long have you been volunteering with RGD, and in what capacity? 

I’ve been volunteering since the 2017 RGD Student Awards. It was a great experience to see all the work the students had created and their level of creativity. I felt honoured to be asked by RGD to take part in this program, which sparked my interest in participating in more volunteer opportunities. 


Q: What have you learned about the industry by contributing to RGD's initiatives? 

From participating in initiatives like RGD's Designathon, I've seen that the industry is growing fast and that there are a lot of students with amazing talent. Design programs at colleges and universities are doing an excellent job of preparing students for working in the industry after graduation. It is encouraging to see the quality of design education evolving with the needs of the industry.


Q: In your opinion, why is it important to elevate the visibility of in-house design teams through initiatives like the In-House Design Awards?

Our in-house design team was recognized firm-wide across Canada when we won our first RGD In-House Design Award. The award helped highlight the importance of the work we do to our CEO and illustrated the value that the design team brings to the organization. 


As a judge for the most recent Awards, I enjoyed seeing the amazing work being created by other in-house design teams and the variety of design applications across different industries. It's important to elevate the visibility of in-house design teams as more and more companies are investing in design.



Q: Based on your experience volunteering with RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry? 

RGD really impacts the Canadian design community by providing opportunities to make connections and elevate the value of our work. Mentoring a project for the BC Children's Hospital at one of RGD's Designathon events really drove this home for me. Knowing that the phenomenal design work created at the event would be used to help support the foundation was very fulfilling and has inspired me to look for other opportunities to do more. 


RGD Designathon Project created for the BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Team: Valeriya Kim Student RGD, Kathrin Teh Student RGD

Mentor: Donna Graffi Smith RGD


Q: Can you share any ideas or suggestions for what individual designers and/or organizations like RGD can be doing to further improve the industry? 

RGD's So(cial) Good Design Awards is a positive step toward improving the industry as a program that recognizes designers who do amazing work with positive social impact. It is important for individual designers and organizations like RGD to continue leveraging our influence to make a meaningful impact in the world.  


Q: What have you gained from being an RGD volunteer, and why would you recommend it to other members who might be thinking of getting involved?

Volunteering with RGD opened doors and provided opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. Through RGD I have also made lots of great connections with other design professionals and have learned something from each experience.


Interested in getting involved with RGD? Fill out our online form.