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Lauren Connell-Whitney

About Me

I am a designer, researcher, and artist with over 15 years in practice who believes that asking the right questions with consistent iteration is the key to effective creation. I am experienced in branding, content design, and social innovation. Recently I collaborated on several research projects with a focus on structural change in education and entrepreneurial culture. Above all, I value innovation that creates opportunity, inclusion, and equity for all.

polaroid of a 7 year old girl with a blonde mullet and a HUGE grin, holding a python wrapped around her neck with on a gradient orange to yellow background

The beginnings

Grew up wild in Zimbabwe, with a pack of ten tameless dogs, in overgrown backyards inhabited by black mambas and spitting cobras. Until the cultural shock of a lifetime hit at age 14 when we moved to Canada. From a land where the grocery store sometimes carried one of an item, to “twenty-four different kinds of jam you say?” This was the beginning of my fascination with branding and how visual language shapes our landscape.

Then, age 17, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, I hit NYC running – learning that compassion and speed can work flawlessly together when done right.

Keep Learning

I say, pick projects that excite you! And put yourself in situations where you won’t know exactly how to fix the problem. Here is where you might learn to solve wicked problems with mapcap innovation and to wear ALL the hats.

And school… keep learning whenever you can afford it and especially when you can’t! I hold a BFA from the Photography Department of Parsons School of Design in New York City and am a Master of Design, from the Digital Futures program at OCAD University in Toronto.

Smiling woman, Lauren, with long medium brown coloured hair on a pink background with green lens flare
Image of a woman looking through the lens of a camera with an umbrella overhead

How I Work

I believe people and relationships come first in work. The key to building successful projects is actually taking the time to listen.

Openness to change and building transferable soft skills will take you far, everything else can be learned along the way. 

Teaching Experience

Sessional Instructional Assistant
Immersive Environment Design
University of Toronto Mississauga
January to April 2023

I love teaching. This class was an opportunity to share my passion for virtual reality with a group of students who had little to no experience with the medium, leading students in their exploration of the 3D field along with showcasing the latest technologies, methods, and creators in the VR/AR environment. I designed visual presentation decks and taught weekly practical workshops to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to 3D software and industry standard creative workflow, as well as the concepts of research methods, project documentation, digital remix culture, and collaboration. I graded coursework and assignments with critical feedback for students’ growth and provided active support, feedback, and encouragement to students through weekly office hours to discuss their progress in their coursework and project creation.

Research Experience

Design Researcher
Fifth Wave Initiative
Super Ordinary Lab
OCAD University

January 2020 to April 2023

I was fortunate to be a part of the research team studying The Fifth Wave Initative, Canada’s first feminist entrepreneurship incubator, from the Canadian Film Center (CFC). I designed base interview protocol and data gathering systems used to understand the growth and impact on the participants of the incubator and wrote and facilitated entry and exit interviews with 37 founders across five cohorts. We synthesized group dialogue and individual interviews to understand how a feminist incubator might better support entrepreneurship and growth with a values-based mindset. Our research included strategizing key recommendations and opportunities through journey mapping to offer improvements in the program structure. We evaluated and applied key insights about the needs and challenges of feminist entrepreneurship and women-owned businesses from each cohort and completed seven rigorous reports with our findings.

The Pandemic Effect
Super Ordinary Lab
OCAD University

August 2020 to February 2021

The Pandemic Effect was a futures study that examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital media entrepreneurs across Southern Ontario. We synthesized qualitative and quantitative data gathered from a sample of business owners to understand the emerging trends and drivers as the pandemic progressed. I co-designed and facilitated two workshops with our participants to create future forward strategies for entrepreneurs. I also designed a printed and digital set of 24 STEEP+V game cards for use in ideating solutions for the many complex issues that entrepreneurs in the pandemic are facing. Our team then created a fulsome 50+ page report of our findings.

Design Consultant
Pulse Lab
McMaster University

February 2019 to September 2021

I was the lead designer for a 150+ page workbook and companion website of a multi-year research project that created an anti-oppression, feminist, digital media literacy curriculum for high school students and teen support programs. I managed the project scoping and timelines with a team based across Canada and designed the visual identity, logotype, and design system for the workbook, additionally editing the written content for structure and consistency across each chapter, as well as creating various marketing materials for dissemination at conferences. 

Professional Experience

Brand, Web & Content Designer
Cyber Fellows
YTB Gallery
August 2022 to December 2022

I was fortunate to work with YTB Gallery in their inaugural peer-learning incubator Cyber Fellows, in partnership with Gudskul in Jakarta and Flex in New York City. I facilitated and designed three brand workshops with decision makers and Cyber Fellow cohort members to understand the needs, messaging and direction for pilot run of the incubator. I synthesized user and market research to create brand identity and usage guidelines and designed wireframes to then implement the final website design for the incubator’s online exhibition space.

Product Designer
October 2021 to June 2022

I worked with Normative, an innovation consultancy based in Toronto, at a time of growth in their team. I worked with a large pharmaceutical manufacturer to design a full brand strategy and value proposition, including brand personas, messaging and tag lines. Co-facilitating workshops to understand the needs and challenges of 30+ internal stakeholders in their business and conducted stakeholder interviews and user-testing to identify potential problems. I also led the design of writing value propositions for 15 business units that drive a cohesive understanding and communication of each unit’s value offering. We conducted client discovery sessions to map user needs and understand the creative objective of the client’s brand, goals, and expectations. I also designed and lead user interviews with industry experts to understand market growth trends, key competitors, and customer drivers. Additionally I worked to create an onboarding experience plan for the incoming Design Director at Normative, showcasing the design team’s ethos, skills, future goals.

Brand, Product Design & Art Direction
African Bronze Honey
January 2015 to December 2017

I worked as part of a small team in this start-up through very high growth period of a B Corp social enterprise to designing the company’s brand identity, messaging, website, product line, packaging design, and pitch decks for various markets and target audiencesAdditionally, I set up a sales funnel to identify, generate, and develop sales through B2B and B2C channels.

Design Consultant
2008 to Present

I have maintained my own business in design consulting specializing in brand strategy, brand identity, full stack website development, and content design since 2008.


Master of Design
Digital Futures
OCAD University
Toronto, ON
2018 to 2020

Bachelor of Fine Arts
Parsons School of Design
New York, NY
2004 to 2008

Selected Exhibitions

Online group exhibition
April 2020

“Digital Futures Open Show”
Group exhibition at OCAD University
Toronto, ON
December 2019

“Death + Extinction: A Polaroid Exhibition”
Group exhibition at Chicago Art Department
Chicago, IL
August 2008

“Parsons BFA Photography Senior Exhibition”
Group exhibition at Calumet
New York, NY
May 2008


Design Thinking

Workshop Design & Facilitation, User Research & Testing Interviews, Persona Development, User Requirements Gathering, Analyzing User Data

User Design

Journey Mapping, User Stories

Web Design

Wireframes, Content Audits, Information Architecture 

Brand Design

Brand Strategy, Logo & Brand Identity, Value Proposition, Packaging Design


Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, Adobe XD