AIGA LA x Los Angeles Unified to Inspire the Future of Design

Los Angeles, CA: Today, the Los Angeles Chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, announces a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Career Technical Education – Arts, Media & Entertainment (AME) program. Through this partnership, AIGA LA aims to work with LAUSD to inspire the next generation of designers and be a supportive resource for their students, programs, and teachers.

Of the CTE – Arts, Media, & Entertainment (AME) pathway, graphic design is the largest course with over 70 teachers who provide hands-on learning environments which lead to industry certifications. Engagements include a career exploration where AIGA members from a variety of creative and design professions enter the classroom to discuss their careers and share work examples. We’ll also provide hands-on learning and workshops introducing design practices and applications used in the profession today.

“As a Los Angeles Unified graduate, this partnership means a lot to me. My computer graphics teacher, Mr. Suarez-Pierra, once made an offhand comment about design as a career when I was a junior in high school. That comment changed the course of my life.”

– Paola Mendoza-Yu, AIGA LA Vice President

“I was lucky enough to have access to the tools and information necessary to embrace a comment like Mr. Suarez-Pierra’s. However, growing up in South Central Los Angeles that level of access was, and unfortunately still is an anomaly. I’m excited about this partnership having a hand in changing that.” Continues Paola.

AIGA Los Angeles over the past year has been evolving to become an organization committed to addressing issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) that impact people in our community. As shared during our annual
Town Hall in February, the board of directors and leadership of the chapter has made significant progress towards ensuring that its leadership is reflective of the community it serves.

“‘God forbid my child has to go to public school.’ I remembered hearing this from one of my senior colleagues in my early intern days and that statement always stuck with me. Are these the people who are hiring the future generation of creatives? I’m a result of going to public school and within LA Unified—Should I tell them I went to public school?” said Jean Pongsai, current AIGA LA Membership Director and outgoing Education Director. “When LAUSD approached AIGA Los Angeles for a partnership it was beyond exciting but also alleviating to know that LAUSD students will have opportunities to get early access to better understanding their potential career choices. As a child of immigrant parents, we often hear the classic worries and concerns of pursuing a non-traditional job and the fear of instability. In times when my parents weren’t able to trust the direction of my future, my LAUSD teachers were strong supporters to guide my career journey—From Mr. McKinney giving me watercolor supplies, Mrs. Cooper-Marquez entering my work into a contest and driving me to accept the award, Mr. Ingram for advocating to our principal to not remove me from school due to zip codes and so many more unmentioned heroes, the LAUSD partnership is bridging the gap for so many students to connect, feel supported in their career paths, and see the potential touchpoint to being able to achieve that creative career goal.”

“Growing up, I was always very artistic and knew I wanted a creative career. But as a first generation college student, I also felt a lot of pressure to choose a stable and practical career. When I learned about graphic design, I knew it was the perfect career for me and I feel fortunate for all the opportunities my career has created. I’m excited to pass the torch to the next generation of designers through this LAUSD partnership and hope that AIGA LA inspires students to pursue creative careers,” said Jaz Infante, AIGA LA Education Director.

The potential of design to create a better future is only realized when we include all voices. Design can be powerful in improving the lives of people and, with that, we as an industry have a responsibility to ensure we are practicing ethical, equitable and inclusive design. This outreach engagement is part of new programs including offering continuous education and professional development that advances more equitable and ethical practices in the profession.

“Coming from Immigrant parents, I knew early on the sacrifices my parents and grandparents made to ensure I could have a good education. Each generation works hard so that the next generation has the opportunity to do better than they did. When I pursued a career in design, I came to learn that design can positively impact people’s lives. My hopes are that our work in AIGA and my career will set the next generation up to achieve more than I could,” said Sam Cabrera, AIGA LA President. “These students will be leaders and a vital part of solving the biggest challenges of today. Together, AIGA LA and LA Unified teachers can help students and their families see potential in a career that shapes the future.”

“Design is personal for individuals and communities, so I find it critical to include all voices and talents to spread a better understanding of our nation (and world). Being inclusive gives audiences insight into other cultures,”  said Andrew Pak, Work-based Learning Coordinator, AME LA Unified.“The design field is a growing industry and UX/UI Design are high-paying careers that are currently not being showcased in underrepresented communities. I want our young designers to pursue their passion while earning enough to provide for their families.”

Before the end of the school year, AIGA LA facilitated 2 successful engagements: (1) an introduction to user experience/user interface design with Matthew Carlson, Director of User Experience Design, Creative Cloud at Adobe,; and (2) a workshop on journey mapping with Gintel Gee, Senior Product Designer at Carbon Five. Thanks to the success of these engagements the AME program is moving to incorporate these topics into the curriculum. These volunteers and many more have signed up to continue offering engagements like these throughout the new school year.

Alexander Valerio, High School Graphic Design Student, shared that, “Ever since I was exposed to Graphic Design and Digital Art/Media, I felt I had found the perfect way to express myself. From the satisfactory cleanliness achievable through graphic design, to the form, and the function of the design, I had a new purpose to society that was fulfilling to it, and myself. Graphic design is purposeful, and is the ultimate form of expression broadening new paths you never knew existed.”

“I have seen a change in students who take the initiative to participate in hands-on career opportunities, offered through the academy and district. In particular, I am reminded of one of my current juniors, an immigrant student who entered our school pathway and joined the LAUSD internship. She has become not only a model student in the classroom but has developed stronger agency and self-identity through her experiences,” said Gabriela Rosillo, CTE Graphic Design Teacher & Academy Coordinator, Academy of Art and Technology.

This is just the start of AIGA LA and LA Unified’s meaningful partnership and we look forward to sharing more exciting news as we engage and support the future of design.

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About AIGA Los Angeles

AIGA Los Angeles is a volunteer-run, voluntary membership 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for the design community in Los Angeles. We are one of the largest amongst 70+ sibling chapter organizations in the nation. AIGA LA was founded in 1983 by influential designers who have shaped our industry, a legacy that we take very seriously — our city and community is the destination for anyone aspiring to create no matter where they came from.


About AIGA

AIGA, the professional association for design, advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, AIGA brings together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and creates the vision for a collective future. AIGA defines global standards and ethical practices, guides design education, inspires designers and the public, enhances professional development, and makes powerful tools and resources accessible to all. Learn more at




About the Artist

The artwork by Camilo Bejarano was commissioned by AIGA LA for this press release. 

Statement from the artist: “My name is Camilo Bejarano, I’m a designer & illustrator based in Los Angeles, California. I moved to the US in 1996 from Bogota, Colombia. And after living in different cities in Florida and New York, I now call Los Angeles my home. Where I live along with my family.

I am a self-taught artist. I started my career after founding a screen printing studio where I picked up illustration and design skills. Since, I’ve worked with amazing brands and studios like AofL, Buck, Disney, Facebook, Google, TheLittleLabs, and more…I was very excited that AIGA LA reached out and I didn’t think twice to collaborate in such a great initiative to support and inspire the future of design. Thanks to Paola and Sam!”

You can find more of Camilo’s work on his website.

By AIGA Los Angeles
Published June 23, 2021
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