Mariana Prieto

podcast / president / alumni / product-design
March 12, 2019
Produced by: Christine Spines

Change Lab Podcast Episode 22

Mariana Prieto on Social Innovation for Wildlife

Mariana Prieto is a social innovator in the purest sense of the term. From the moment she collected her degree in Product Design from ArtCenter seven years ago, she’s been working at the forefront of social change. She’s spent much of her time in the developing world, deploying her deeply empathic and thorough design methods to address challenges facing underserved communities of humans and other creatures around the globe.

When you look at conservation issues, a great majority of them exist because of the way people behave. By designing for people, we can protect wildlife.

Person wearing an International Rescue Committee t-shirt
Airbel, International Rescue Committee's Innovation Center, works to "design and test life-changing, scalable solutions for people affected by crisis".
Illustration from the wildlife crime fighting graphic novel The Rosette
Illustration from the wildlife crime fighting graphic novel The Rosette

She is currently a TED Resident and the founder of Design for Wildlife, a collective of creative talent assembled to support wildlife organizations in addressing animal conservation issues. Previously, Mariana served as design innovation lead for the International Rescue Committee, where she led teams working on innovative solutions for the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the redesign of the refugee resettlement process in the United States.

In 2013, she was named Global Design Fellow for She focused her work on poverty alleviation, reducing teen pregnancies in Zambia, building social enterprises for female farmers in India and working with The Rockefeller Foundation to write a book on the informal workforce in Africa and Asia.

Giradora human-powered washer/dryer prototype
Giradora prototype for a human-powered washer/dryer designed for families across Latin America that don't have access to electricity and/or running water.

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Mariana takes a decidedly global approach to influencing positive change. Over the course of her spirited conversation with Change Lab, she explores the origins of her twin passions for animals and design, her work brokering a mutually-beneficial alliance between a once-endangered breed of crocodiles and their human neighbors and her recent gambit designing the next phase of her creative journey by conducting design research at a TED conference in Zambia.

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