CH25: Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Lulu Mickelson began charting her course in community organizing early on, when riding her chartreuse beachcomber to school in Santa Monica, California. Surrounded by the clogged freeways outside of LA, she noticed the bike racks at her large public high school were nearly empty and was instrumental in organizing “Bike It” days, getting half the school to go car-free by the time she graduated, and helping score a grant from the state for special bike lanes. It was then, she says, that “I got to understand the power of working at the grassroots level.”

Now the recent Barnard grad is hard at work in local government in New York City. As a special advisor to the commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, she is helping to elevate design as a practical form of civic engagement. Mickelson is playing a critical role in the WE NYC initiative (Women’s Entrepreneurs of NYC), which launched in March. She and her colleagues have been taking it to the streets, setting up forums for conversations with real women entrepreneurs in a fact-finding mission to implement better programs that will help women start, operate and grow businesses in the city. “Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public as we create programs and services to serve New Yorkers’ needs.”

Read more about Mickelson’s mission on her

full CH25 profile.

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Lulu Mickelson