Volunteer of the Month for February 2023

The RGD thanks Diana Varma RGD for her contributions to the community.


“From the very first day of joining the Education Committee, it was evident that Diana was going to play an important role while bringing an upbeat, vibrant personality to the group. As I learned about her background, education, expertise and extracurricular pursuits, it amazed me how much she can accomplish, with such high quality. When you think she has reached her capacity of creativity and drive, she hits you with a new personal project or idea she is working on! She has been a huge support and true inspiration to myself and members of the committee.” — Faron Dawe RGD, Chair, Education Committee
How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?
I’ve been volunteering with the RGD since January 2021 as part of the Education Committee. It’s been a really great experience connecting with like-minded people who are as passionate (and dare I say… as geeky!) as I am about these topics. Being part of something larger than my individual to-do list is really fulfilling.
What contribution are you most proud of / What experience/memory stands out for you?
I’m most proud of the series of five articles I wrote in 2022 concerning ‘The Way Forward in Design Education’. I had the opportunity to chat with a variety of educators across Canada and beyond who are paving the way for what it means to have creative, connected and caring classrooms. As professionals, we too often get caught up in the day-to-day busyness, missing opportunities to question ‘why?’. These conversations were insightful and inspiring, allowing me to question my why’s and share it with others in the process.
What is the most surprising/unexpected thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?
The most unexpected thing to come from working with the RGD is the connections. It has been incredible getting to meet new people who bring unique ideas, experiences and perspectives to the table. They are also just really cool people. 
What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?
What I’ve learned most since volunteering with the RGD is that people are willing to share and be generous with their time. Most people really enjoy talking about what they do and what they’re working on; it’s often just a matter of asking, which has been hugely helpful for me personally and professionally.
Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry? 
I believe that the role of the RGD within industry can be summed up in three words: community, accountability and education. The organization gathers a community of great people through a massive number of initiatives, connecting through virtual and in-person events. The organization holds the industry accountable for professional standards and making sure those standards are upheld. And finally, the organization promotes education through inspiring teachers and students alike to continue the life-long journey of learning about this field.
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?
I’ve gained a community of people, most of whom I would never meet have met otherwise. I’ve gained opportunities, I’ve gained experience and I’ve gained friends in the process. And because I’m a teacher, I can’t help but speak directly to students who may be reading this: it’s not who you know that gets you your next opportunity… it’s who knows you! Get out there, engage with the community, do so with genuine interest and your efforts will not go unnoticed.
Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?
In the future, I’d love to continue creating valuable resources for educators and students. Beyond that… time will tell! At the end of the day, I want to continue working on cool projects with cool people. 
Diana Varma RGD is an award-winning university lecturer and columnist by day and an avid podcaster by night, where she helps students connect their technical left brains, creative right brains and entrepreneurial hearts for fulfilling careers in creative industries. Specifically, she teaches in the areas of design, typography, print management, book publishing and interdisciplinary innovation.