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Announcement
August 19, 2021

Board of Trustees elects new members

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

From left: Ashleigh Axios, David Lee, Michelle Ebanks, Todd Waterbury and Donald Choi. Courtesy the trustees. 

The Board of Trustees at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is proud to announce the election of Ashleigh Axios, Donald Choi, Michelle Ebanks, David Lee and Todd Waterbury as its newest term trustees. They will each serve a three-year term through May 2024.

“Our newest members are incredible assets to RISD’s Board, and we are thrilled to welcome them. They bring a wealth of expertise that complements that of our other exceptional members, adding a diversity of opinions and experiences. With the search underway for RISD’s 18th president, we look forward to the ways these new members will help continue to advance our beloved institution alongside our dedicated Interim President Dave Proulx, and we thank them for taking on this important commitment in service to RISD during this exciting period of transition and transformation,” said RISD Board Chair Michael Spalter.

Ashleigh Axios (BFA '08 Graphic Design) is an international speaker, strategic creative, and an advocate for design’s ability to break barriers and create positive social change. She is chief experience officer and an owner of Coforma, a digital consultancy and design firm that crafts creative solutions and builds technology products that support communities. She is chair of the board for the AIGA—the professional association for design—and she formed and led the in-house creative agency for marketing, communications and brand identity solutions at Automattic, a technology company on a mission to democratize publishing and commerce. Prior to her role at Automattic, she served as the creative director and a digital strategist in the Obama White House.

Donald W. H. Choi (BArch '82) has worked globally as an architect and developer since graduating from RISD. He believes in the power of design and architecture to empower society. Clients have included Hong Kong government, Airport Authority, Mass Transit Railway Corporation, Urban Renewal Authority, Public Works Canada, British Columbia Buildings Corporation NGOs and organizations within the private sector. He is currently chief executive officer of the Chinachem Group and previously served as managing director of Nan Fung Development, director of Foster and Partners and lead architect for the Hong Kong International Airport Passenger Terminal, which was named one of the Top Ten Construction Projects in the World.

Michelle Ebanks is an independent board director for Essence Communications and Atlantic Media. For nearly two decades, Ebanks was CEO/president of Essence Communications, the leading omnichannel media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women with a global brand reach of more than 31 million. At Essence, Ebanks developed and executed a plan that grew the Essence Festival from a regional event into the world’s largest cultural, music, entertainment and empowerment experience, contributing more than 4 billion USD to the economy while routinely attracting more than half a million live attendees annually.

David Lee (BFA '00 Graphic Design) is chief creative officer of Squarespace, where he leads an award-winning creative team whose work encapsulates all creative, design and production efforts for the company. His experience has led him to work at the unique intersection of product design and storytelling, and he was recently honored on the Adweek Creative 100 List as a branded content innovator raising the bar for storytelling and artistic integrity. He was named one of the Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company and led his team to be honored by Ad Age as the 2020 A-List In-House Agency of the Year. Since joining Squarespace, Lee has masterminded seven Super Bowl campaigns and won an Emmy Award for Most Outstanding Commercial of the Year.

Todd Waterbury is Target’s chief creative officer. In this role, he establishes the creative vision and direction for Target’s brand and marketing efforts. He leads Target Creative, a 400+ team of art directors, designers, developers, writers, strategists and content producers. Together with its external advertising and design partners, they develop and execute brand identity and packaging for Target’s multi-billion-dollar Owned Brands portfolio, design its target.com experience, and orchestrate Target’s position as a cultural influencer. Waterbury has extensive experience creating highly integrated marketing and design work for a broad roster of iconic brands.

More information on RISD’s Board of Trustees, including the complete current list of members, can be found here.

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