Lisa – thoughts on Design Justic Principles

As I have been studying many interventions around refugees, I have seen a lack of community design approaches. More recently refugee groups are asking NGOs in their space to adopt design principles, which could be transformative.  Current approaches are focused on empowerment, sustainability and are non-exploitative.  I have seen little work noting the healing aspect of the refugee experience. I have overlooked that as well. I find that most interventions when discussing scaling are focused on increased staffing and doing more “for” refugees in the process.  I seldom see frameworks where communities are part of the process. A refugee-designed and –focused process would look very different and could be an opportunity for a more scalable solution.     

Lisa intro


Hello. I am Lisa and thrilled to be working with all of you this semester. I am already enjoying the diversity of ideas and seeing how people approach issues.

My background is in language technology. I did early research in AI and then founded a company around global data collection for technologies including search and speech.  We worked in over 120 languages over 20 years. As the company grew, the culture was overtaken by the imperative of  “maximizing shareholder value” and in the end, the value created over decades was not shared beyond investors.   I left the company after taking it public and joined the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard which provides fellowships for seasoned executives to study social impact.

I am partnered with Talent Beyond Boundaries who partner with the UN and governments on Labor Mobility.   Skilled refugees need jobs. Global employers need talent. TBB connects them.

They have had early successes at changing immigration laws in support of labor migration, partnering with the UN.  They continue to focus on “additive” immigration quotas in additional countries (i.e. not redirecting immigration quotas but adding new opportunities for skilled refugees). They are currently engaged in a number of pilots to prove to funders and government leaders that the approach is sustainable and scalable.

As TBB scales operations there are design issues around preparing refugee families for relocation with language and culture skills. In addition, once relocated, connecting them with community support. The pilot is primarily focused on Australia.