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Abby Wilson
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Tales from a Joyful Shapeshifter: My Adventures Leading the Federal Government's First Human Centered Design Lab



Abby Wilson

Director, The LAB @ OPM





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Everywhere the world is in need of repair. Fix it, solve these things… { }
The world is calling, heal the world and in the process heal yourself, find the human in yourself by finding the citizen, the activist, the hero.” -
That, from Tony Kushner, in a 2004 graduation speech at Columbia University, my alma mater!




In 2009, President Obama charged then Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry to "make government cool again." In 2012, the youngest member of his senior staff, a pilot and Stanford business school graduate named Matt Collier, worked with an unlikely team of career civil servants and members of the Administration to turn a 3,000 square foot former records storage facility into what the Washington Post dubbed that summer "a slice of Silicon Valley." The Lab opened its doors to much acclaim as a capital project, and I’ve been given the both exhilarating and exhausting nut to crack in its wake: building a design-led innovation program in the nerve center of the federal government's human capital shop. It's working - but it hasn't been easy. Two years later we're part garage, part teaching hospital, part emergency room, and part diorama.



Abby is the inaugural Director of The LAB @ OPM, a design-led innovation practice in the federal government’s nucleus of human capital research and policy. She leads an agile, multi-agency team that helps public servants develop more usable and useful policies and services. Previously, she directed public and non-profit sector work at LUMA Institute.


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