Volunteer of the Month for September 2021
"Kyle is an incredible asset to the RGD and the Membership Committee. He is organized, thoughtful and a natural leader. Often the first to volunteer when a new project needs attention, he is currently heading an initiative to redevelop the So(cial) Good Design Awards for 2022 to make it more inclusive, drawing increased participation and national recognition. This is no small task, but Kyle seems to be managing it seamlessly."
How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?
I became a Member of the RGD in early 2017 and I started volunteering by reviewing student portfolios soon after. I enjoyed working with emerging designers, so I also volunteered to be a Mentor and have more opportunities to engage beyond a quick portfolio review.
The more I got involved with the RGD, the more I enjoyed the feeling of being a part of the design community. As a result, I began taking advantage of other opportunities as they came — presenting at DesignThinkers and the In-House Design Conference, becoming a Member of the RGD's Membership Committee and reviewing portfolios as part of the RGD Certification Process.
What contribution are you most proud of / What experience/memory stands out for you?
I'm still in the midst of it, but I'm proud to lead a sub-committee of RGD Members who are helping plan parts of the 2022 So(cial) Good Design Awards. It's fascinating seeing the work that the RGD puts into a program like this and I'm happy to play a small role!
What is the most surprising/unexpected thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?
I imagined myself becoming a better graphic designer when I joined the RGD back in 2017. What I didn't expect was all the ways volunteering has helped make me a more complete professional! I've practiced my public speaking skills through conferences and webinars, I've honed my ability to constructively critique work through Mentorship and portfolio reviews. Working with peers from different backgrounds has helped widen my perspectives. Volunteering has given me a chance to get out of my bubble as a designer.
What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?
As someone who lives and works in Toronto, I've found it very interesting to meet designers from across Canada and expand my views on the different ways and places design has an impact. In-house design, in particular, is fascinating since it has some fantastic designers doing great work but often doesn't get spotlighted. Being involved in things like the In-House Design Conference has given me a broader perspective on how deep and varied the design industry is.
Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry?
The RGD is the hub for design in Canada. It's a great place for designers from all walks of life — whether you're in-house, at an agency, a freelancer, a student — to connect and feel like you're part of something larger. The RGD does a great job of representing our industry and our interests in a way that no one of us could do alone.
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?
The one thing I tell anyone considering an RGD Membership is that you get out of it what you put into it. Becoming involved as an RGD volunteer opens you up to meeting new designers, approaching new challenges and thinking about your role in our industry in new ways. I highly recommend it.
Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?
I'm always interested in any opportunity to apply some of my strategic consulting experience, so I'm happy whenever I get the chance to donate my time towards helping shape the programs and vision for the future of the RGD!
Kyle Schruder RGD leads the design practice at Coactuate, a strategic consultancy focused on supporting healthcare leaders to navigate complex change. He has over a decade of editorial design experience and has made the transition from agency work to leading design in-house at strategic consultancies.