Cheryl Heller


Cheryl Heller has a history of building new capacities within organizations that expand their reach and make them more resilient. She is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at SVA and President of the design lab CommonWise. She founded the first design department in a major advertising agency. As a strategist, she has helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion global market leaders, launched cate-gory-redefining divisions and products, reinvigorated moribund cultures, and designed strategies for hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. Heller was recently awarded a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellowship, and is a recipient of the prestigious AIGA Medal for her contribution to the field of design. She has taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world. Her book, The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Creative Energy of Social Design, was published in October 2018.


Her clients have included Ford Motor Company, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, MeadWestvaco, StoraEnso, the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Medtronic, Mars Corporation, Discovery

Networks International,  Herman Miller, Bayer Corporation, Seventh Generation, L’Oreal, Hearst, The World Wildlife Fund, Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation and the Girl Scouts of America.


Heller is the former Board Chair of PopTech, and a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $13 million to designers working for the public good, and partnered with Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to create the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.”


She developed Measured, an initiative that is evaluating the effect of social design on human health, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Autodesk Foundation. She is currently working with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to develop an innovation district there.