Design Museum Everywhere Introduces New Executive Director

The Board of Directors is excited to announce that Maria Villafranca has been named Executive Director of Design Museum Everywhere. Maria joined Design Museum Everywhere in 2020, and had been serving as Interim Executive Director since July 2022 when Sam Aquillano, the museum’s founder, stepped down.

Maria is a mother, writer, and nonprofit leader with almost two decades of experience working at the intersection of culture, innovation, and social change. She has held leadership positions at a range of institutions that support creative producers from small community-based organizations to large national arts funders, in addition to leading career development training sessions and executive coaching for designers and creative professionals around the country. She was the inaugural Director of Communications at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, where she developed institutional core values and worked with grantees to promote freedom of expression. She also spent ten years at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) to grow their resources for artists and launch their racial justice initiatives. She currently lives outside of Philadelphia with her family.

“During my time at the museum, I find myself regularly in the (virtual or in-person) room with some of the most exciting people I have ever met, all of whom are designing and redesigning products, policies, and the built environment to be better, smarter, and work for more people. It’s a true honor to lead the amazing Design Museum Everywhere team during this critical time as we explore how our community of creative problem solvers can take meaningful action in service of a more equitable, sustainable, and, ultimately, beautiful world,” said Maria.

“I am delighted to have Maria take on the role of Executive Director for Design Museum Everywhere. Maria has been a leader and advocate for the organization, helping us navigate the challenges of change and setting up a foundation for future growth and engagement with our community. As Interim Executive Director, Maria demonstrated that she understands the priorities of the museum as an organization highlighting the power of design and the diverse range of people using that power to enhance our homes, communities, workplaces, and beyond. I am excited to see what Maria will help us build on the foundations the museum has established over the past 14 years,” said George White, Design Museum Everywhere Board Chair.

Design Museum Everywhere’s mission is to inspire social change through the transformative power of design. The museum’s community is committed to using the design process to create personal, cultural, and global impact. Our programs include community-centered events, exhibitions, and publications that connect the public to the power and social impact of design; educational programs about design and social change innovations in business, society, and culture; and career development and mentoring for students and design professionals. Support the Design Museum Education Fund and/or become a member.