NYCxDESIGN Appoints New Executive Director
Elissa Black Brings Extensive Non-Profit Experience Serving NYC’s Cultural & Design Communities to New Role
NYCxDESIGN is pleased to announce that Elissa Black has been selected as Executive Director to steward the newly formed non-profit at a critical moment in the organization’s evolution. Driven by clear passion and purpose, Black has been deeply involved in New York City’s cultural and design world for over fifteen years with leading roles as Managing Director and Interim Executive Director at Van Alen Institute and as Senior Manager, Special Initiatives, at the Guggenheim Museum. In those organizations, she brokered high-profile collaborations between public entities and private organizations, bringing dynamic cultural programming to life in New York and internationally. Black will bring this expertise to NYCxDESIGN as it navigates this next chapter as an organization poised to promote and support New York City’s diverse creative community of designers, makers, manufacturers, schools, cultural institutions, and events.
“My professional experiences have underscored how design elevates entire communities. When you bring design disciplines together, radically listen and enable collaborations across the spectrum, collective design-thinking can remake, reimagine, and positively impact the seemingly most intractable of societal issues. Together we can address issues that range from community resilience and recovery, to social justice and racial equity, to climate change and equitable public space, to access and inclusivity,” says Black. “NYCxDESIGN is perfectly poised to harness and promote the collective power of New York City’s design community. In this period of rebuilding, my focus as Executive Director will be on creating new and expanded opportunities for design in the city at large, and for the local communities we serve through this spirit of unity and cooperation.”
NYCxDESIGN started as a City-led initiative in 2013 and through grassroots efforts evolved into an influential entity with an international cachet, unifying New York’s creative capital under one umbrella and drawing significant exposure and opportunities to the City’s design disciplines, people, events, and related industries. Its signature event, The NYCxDESIGN Festival, attracts visitors from around the world to see NYC’s design scene take center stage at shows like ICFF and WantedDesign and in showrooms, studios, and special installations across the boroughs. As the driving force behind community engagement and participation, NYCxDESIGN’s Steering Committee includes volunteer representatives from NYC’s design schools, museums, cultural institutions, design districts, design centers, associations, and trade shows.
In 2019, the City of New York selected SANDOW, a company deeply rooted in design, to operate the program. After an assessment by SANDOW and the Steering Committee, it was determined that NYCxDESIGN should transition to a not-for-profit entity to best serve the design community and that SANDOW would stay involved to continue to strengthen and grow the program through operational support and as active media partners. Black will work closely with her team, led by Program Director Valerie Hoffman, a new Board of Directors, and the Steering Committee on NYCxDESIGN’s core events, engagement, and programming, as well as strategic new initiatives.
NYCxDESIGN has recently focused its efforts on developing new year-round programming and marketing activities to nurture, amplify and activate within the design community, launching: The Breakout Grant, IMPACTxDESIGN sponsored by Caesarstone and in partnership with the Design Trust for Public Space, Design Corps, its Student Showcase and Spotlight, An Ode to NYC, and new media platforms with user-generated content like The Mic and NYCxDESIGN: The Magazine, which offer international visibility to NYC designers from all backgrounds and inspire the city’s creative community by sharing diverse perspectives on a variety of topics.
“I’m energized by this opportunity to work with Elissa, who brings such valuable experience from notable New York City creative institutions. Her community-driven career and collaborative approach will lead to meaningful growth for NYCxDESIGN across programming, operations, and strategic revenue models to ultimately expand NYCxDESIGN’s opportunities to support the design community,” says Hoffman, who has been with the organization since 2017. “Activations that educate and inspire, spotlight New York talent internationally, create increased and equitable access, and inspire positive change are all efforts that I look forward to continuing to pursue with Elissa’s expertise at the helm.”
During her most recent role at Van Alen Institute, Black pursued community-based urban design strategies to address equity and environmental and social justice issues in New York City and beyond. Black grew the team, Board of Directors, and organizational structure to implement a robust national and international program. Black also elevated Van Alen Institute’s profile and impact during her tenure through oversight of strategic initiatives like a design-focused documentary film series in collaboration with The New Yorker, international juried architecture and design competitions that reimagine the future of cities through interdisciplinary lenses, and, most recently, integrative partnerships in service of COVID recovery strategies for New York City’s small businesses and cultural venues.
Through her work at the Guggenheim Museum, Black managed highly complex and multidisciplinary projects across the globe, spanning groundbreaking installations, design interventions, and cultural experiences, arising from impactful collaborations between cultural institutions, creative industries, and the government and private sectors. One of her most successful initiatives, in partnership with the architecture and design curatorial department at the Guggenheim Museum, was the internationally acclaimed BMW Guggenheim Lab. This architectural pavilion traveled to Europe, Asia, and the United States, housing an innovative pop-up cultural program that explored issues in mega-cities through the lens of architecture, art, and design.
Black is a graduate of the Teachers College, Columbia University Master’s program in arts management and was previously an Adjunct Professor in that program teaching fundraising and organizational sustainability. Black also holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor from the University of Sydney, Australia. She has called New York City home for the last seventeen years, where she resides with her family.
NYCxDESIGN is a not-for-profit organization committed to empowering and promoting the city’s diverse creative community. NYCxDESIGN started as a City-led initiative in 2013 and through grassroots efforts evolved into an influential entity, unifying New York’s creative capital under one umbrella and drawing significant exposure and opportunities to the City’s design disciplines, people, events, and related industries. NYCxDESIGN organizes exceptional year-round activations, including its annual international festival. Diversity, purpose, cultural placemaking, economic opportunity, and creativity are core to the not-for-profit’s values. NYCxDESIGN is supported by NYCEDC and the SANDOW Design Group, sponsored by Caesarstone, and is in partnership with media brands including The New York Times, The Architect’s Newspaper, Metropolis, Interior Design, Luxe Interiors + Design, and SixtySix.