Volunteers of the Month for April 2023
The RGD thanks Nicole Duncan RGD and Meghan D'Mello RGD for their contributions to the RGD community.
"I've known both Nicole and Meghan for a few years now and they are a pleasure to work with on RGD Committees. They have been involved with a variety of initiatives and aren't afraid to take on a big project. The RGD's Video Archive project is a recent example of how much they have contributed to the community. They have thoughtfully curated content from the RGD archives that will help educate and inspire many more designers. As RGD volunteers, they have made a lasting impact." — Kathleen Scott RGD, Chair, Events Committee
How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?
Nicole: I first started volunteering for the RGD in 2017 when they reached out for assistance to host Future By Design events in Kingston. My uncle Rod Nash (to whom I owe great credit for inspiring me into the field of design) served on the RGD Board for many years. I saw the benefits he reaped from being involved, and so it seemed a natural fit. Later, I joined the Events Committee and now co-lead the Solo Designers Virtual Community.
Meghan: I've been volunteering with the RGD since 2020 in various capacities as a webinar speaker, portfolio reviewer, mentor, In-House Design Conference steering Committee Member, Events Committee Member and more.
What contribution are you most proud of / What experience/memory stands out for you?
Nicole: I really enjoy the Solo Designers Virtual Community. It brings together freelance designers, like me, who usually work alone. Therefore, the meet-ups are welcome connections that our community really appreciates. Through these meetings I really see the value in sharing knowledge and making connections across the country even if it is virtually.
Meghan: Having worked as an in-house designer for the past 11 years, the In-House Design Conference has always been very close to my heart, so being part of the 2022 steering committee was really exciting! Not only was I able to get a peak behind the curtain at how the RGD events are organized and feed in on the speakers and schedules, but I also had the opportunity to facilitate the Career stream – something, as an extreme introvert, I never thought I'd be able to do.
What is the most surprising/unexpected thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?
Nicole: I am always truly amazed at the bright ideas, dedication and hard work fellow volunteers put into the RGD. I have done small bits here and there where I can, but some volunteers have really impressed me, putting together fantastic programs from which we all benefit. It is amazing to see so much great drive and dedication in the design community.
Meghan: Slightly less social anxiety? I'm most comfortable when I'm hiding behind my computer, but through the RGD, I've been able to speak at (virtual) conferences and panels and expand my network. Those things are still daunting, but much less so now.
What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?
Nicole: The design industry can feel a little competitive and impenetrable at times. Since volunteering with the RGD, I have learned that the design industry and the RGD in particular does have many open, helpful, friendly people. I have found that industry members in the RGD community do want to help each other out and are not so inaccessible as I might have once thought.
Meghan: I've learned how much supporting your fellow designers contributes to a stronger industry and fairer practices.
Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry?
Nicole: Advocating for the value of design and the profession is one of the most important roles of the RGD. At its very core, the RGD has built a self-sufficient community that is an asset to seasoned and emerging designers alike.
Meghan: I think of the RGD as the ultimate resource for designers in Canada. If you ever have questions about business ethics or fair pay or you need any forms and agreements templates or would like feedback on your portfolio before a big interview or are just very curious about what the offices of Canadian design studios look like, the RGD has links, documents and people to support it all.
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?
Nicole: Volunteering has helped me feel a part of something, which is extremely valuable as a freelance designer running a business of my own. It has created a sense of community. I would recommend it to any designer who’s working situation leaves them feeling disconnected from the rest of the industry — Volunteering with the RGD can close that gap!
Meghan: The relationships and connections made through the RGD are invaluable. When I moved from a design agency to an in-house team, I started to feel a little bit isolated from the larger design community. But through attending conferences and volunteering, I've been able to reconnect with so many people in the industry, share things I've learned along the way and learn a whole lot more from others.
Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?
Nicole: I am particularly excited about a project I am working on with the RGD’s vast video archive. I am looking forward to establishing paid access to this fantastic resource so that non-members and maybe designers from around the world can also benefit from the great content that has been and is being generated by the RGD, its Members and leading designers.
Meghan: I'm honestly up for anything! The RGD has pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened the doors to so many new experiences, I can't wait to see what's next.
With 18 years of experience in the industry, Nicole Duncan RGD has a Bachelor of Design with honours from York University in addition to formative design education from the Bauhaus Universität in Weimar, Germany. Nicole began her career in Toronto in the field of retail design, then gaining further experience in the fast-paced world of advertising. A passion in physics eventually took her to Montreal to study sciences at McGill. There she founded her own studio, Nicole Duncan Design, which she now runs from the historic and creatively inspiring city of Kingston.
Meghan D'Mello RGD specializes in print design, illustration and motion. While she started her career on the agency side, her passion for international development, education and gender equality helped her land roles as an in-house designer for global charities, including UNICEF & Plan International. For the past 10 years, she has prioritized working with socially-conscious businesses, not-for-profits and organizations that advance human rights — using design to bring about positive change in Canada and communities around the world.