Recently we sat down with OSRUI Alum Maris Grossman Garcia. Maris is currently the director of the D + I Studio at the University of Chicago.
Tell Us About What You Are Doing Professionally and Why
I am the director of the D+I Studio at the University of Chicago. Our mission is to make the campus more diverse and inclusive. We do this by guiding partners across the university through a human-centered design process to improve the experiences of underrepresented students, staff and faculty members. Using human-centered design to improve communities works because at it’s core, the process is based on empathy, collaboration and iteration. We start designing new things by listening to people and understanding their experiences. Once we know what works well, what’s challenging, what they need and desire, we begin creating relevant solutions, together. We brainstorm and prototype many ideas—and get feedback from the people who will actually use them. This cycle pushes us to design meaningful tools, services and programs so real change can happen.
Years Spent at OSRUI and How They Influenced You
My connection to Judaism, Israel, Hebrew and so many of my closest friends is very much a result of 10 life-changing summers at OSRUI, six as a camper and four on staff. The spiritual power of music was also such an important part of my experience at camp.
Fun Camp Fact
It’s impossible to pick one fun camp fact or story, so I’ll go with my most recent favorite memory from OSRUI Family Camp: Watching my son beam during Havdalah while passionately strumming his ukulele in the inner-songleader-circle—at the age of 3.
Anything Else You’d Like to Tell Us
For those of you who miss the summers you spent in the Mercaz Omanut with Ohad: If you’re trying to strike a balance between parenthood and your life as a maker/artist/designer—or just want to hear honest parenting talk from successful entrepreneurial creatives, please check out The Dadwell Podcast by my husband, Antonio Garcia. Each week he shares stories about maker/artist/designer dads who are managing thriving creative practices while remaining present, engaged, loving fathers. Look for it wherever you listen to podcasts!