Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at SVA and the founder of the design lab CommonWise. She is a business strategist and communication designer who has founded two companies and taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world, helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion global market leaders, launched category-redefining divisions and products, reinvigorated moribund cultures, and designed strategies for hundreds of successful entrepreneurs.
She is the former Board Chair and Advisor to PopTech, a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab, and the Lewis Institute, on the Innovation Advisory Board for the Lumina Foundation, and serves as an advisor to DataKind. She has written for many publications on the subject of social innovation design and creativity. Her clients have included Ford, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, Cemex, Gap, Bayer Corporation, Seventh Generation, L.Oreal, Hearst, Sappi, WWF, Audubon, IDE, Concern Worldwide and the Girl Scouts of America. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $12 million to designers working for the public good. She also advised Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum on the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.”
Cheryl is an AIGA medalist, recognized for her contribution to the field of design, a Matrix Award
winner for excellence in communication and has been profiled through articles in the New York
Times, the Boston Globe, BusinessWeek and many others. Her work in included in the permanent
collection of the Library of Congress.
Concern Worldwide Innovations
Strategic consulting on a $43 mil Gates grant to facilitate the emergence of innovations in maternal
and infant health from the communities most severely affected by them.
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
Strategy, identity and launch of a new concept in urban revitalization.
Repositioning of the $10 bil U.S. companies of Bayer, International and a launch program for internal
and external audiences.
Design of a Social Investing accelerator within the foundation, identification and scale readiness
design for grantees.
Design for Social Innovation at SVA
Creator and Founding Chair of the first MFA in Design for Communication.