Episode 44 – Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Part 2

A Conversation With Vanessa Weathers. Musical Guest: Samantha Pearl

Listen to our 2-part conversation with Vanessa Weathers on The Nasiona Podcast‘s episodes 43 and 44 “Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” which are both part of our Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series.

Episode 44 – Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Part 2

Episode 43 – Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Part 1

You can also find our podcast episodes on Apple PodcastsSpotifyiHeartRadioStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Most environments are not designed to include and value everyone, and as a result such designs fail to center the concerns of those in the bottom rungs of our class and caste systems. So, if we really want to value and include everyone in our teams, in our communities, in our societies, in our politics, then we have to be intentional in the way we design our worlds. We must be intentional in the way we invent environments and opportunities so we may create different relationships with the self, with the other, with our environments, with our work, and with our life activities.

This is where design thinking comes in. How do we create new environments that may assist in valuing, centering, elevating, amplifying, and including those whose concerns have traditionally been left out of the ways we have designed our workplaces, our institutions, and our communities.

In our previous episode, I spoke with Vanessa Weathers, Founder & Principal Consultant at Conscious Employee Experiences, to further explore design thinking and its relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Today, she joins me again. This time we talk about how people best positioned for leadership roles may be those who have been marginalized.  We also discuss how leadership is a title you earn, like you earn trust, and where power is truly rooted in organizations; we explore how to redesign local politics to get the best results and to get people in the right roles; Vanessa dissects how to many accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression; we unpack what may be behind the claim “diversity is white genocide” and how such a mindset and behaviors based on such a mindset can be damaging and threaten the livelihoods and lives of those communities marginalized by systems of oppression and dominant cultures; and she offers us a glimpse into how an experience designer like herself raises a child.

Vanessa Weathers and I spoke on August 22nd of 2020. 

 Vanessa Weathers is an experience designer who has spent nearly 20 years guiding and coaching leaders on becoming more human centered. She uses ethnographic techniques and journey mapping to bring visibility to the people and the issues often overlooked and ignored by dominant cultures. She is an activist, a futurist, and a pioneer who is passionate about the future of work and fostering inclusive work environments. She has dedicated her life to fighting for justice for the marginalized, which has been fueled by her own personal experiences of being in the minority in many aspects of her identity. Having always felt like an “outsider” in corporate America, she is currently embarking on her own journey of self-exploration and continuing to leverage her background in human centered design and diversity, equity, and inclusion to shift attitudes around equity in the workplace.

But before we jump into the conversation, Aïcha Martine Thiam and I introduce you to The Nasiona Music Series. We begin every episode by showcasing a BIPOC musical artist from our series, which you can explore at TheNasiona.com. Today’s musical guest is Samantha Pearl, and she performs her track “Don’t Let Me Go,” which you can find in The Nasiona‘s compilation BIPOC musical album, Volume 1: Petrichor.


Samantha Pearl has been playing the guitar since she was 5 years old, and this symbiotic relationship with the instrument has been the backbone of a stunning musical career. She’s notably worked as a session musician and has performed overseas. Her sound is a striking thing to behold. Originally from California, Samantha now calls New Orleans home. 

You can find Samantha Pearl on these platforms.


Julián Esteban Torres López (he/him/his/él) is a bilingual, Colombia-born culture architect with Afro-Euro-Indigenous roots. For two decades, Julián has studied systems of oppression and has worked toward humanizing those who have been socially, politically, and geographically excluded from the hierarchies of power by centering, elevating, and amplifying their voices, experiences, and histories. He is the founder of the social justice storytelling organization The Nasiona, where he also hosts and produces The Nasiona Podcast. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee, a Trilogy Award in Short Fiction finalist, and the author of Marx’s Humanism and Its Limits and Reporting On Colombia. His work appears in  PANK MagazineInto the Void MagazineThe Acentos Review, among others. Julián holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and in communication and a master’s in justice studies from the University of New Hampshire and was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he focused on political science and Latin American studies.

Twitter and Instagram: @je_torres_lopez


The Nasiona Podcast amplifies the voices and experiences of the marginalized, undervalued, overlooked, silenced, and forgotten, as well as gives you a glimpse into Othered worlds. We focus on stories that explore the spectrum of human experiencesstories based on facts, truth-seeking, human concerns, real events, and real people, with a personal touch. From liminal lives to the marginalized, and everything in between, we believe that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover. Hosted, edited, and produced by Julián Esteban Torres López

Please follow The Nasiona on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for regular updates: @TheNasiona

Thank you to Aïcha Martine Thiam for co-producing the Music Series component of the episode, and to Samantha Pearl for being our musical guest.

Original music for The Nasiona Podcast was produced by the Grammy Award-winning team of Joe Sparkman and Marcus Allen, aka The Heavyweights.
Joe Sparkman: Twitter + Instagram. Marcus Allen: Twitter + Instagram.

The Nasiona Magazine and Podcast depend on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners like you. We hope the value of our work to our community is worth your patronage. If you like what we do, please show this by liking, rating, and reviewing us; buying or recommending our books; and by financially supporting our work either through The Nasiona’s Patreon page or through Julián Esteban Torres López‘s Ko-fi donation platform. Every little bit helps.

Thank you for listening and reading, and thank you for your support.

Tweet 3k