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Hello, I’m Erin Henkel

Senior Portfolio Director, IDEO Chicago

Day to day, I help teams solve problems on a grand human scale. My focus is the services and systems we all rely on, from finance to health to education. I’m invested in tackling societal problems by designing new solutions from an empathic, optimistic perspective. Ask me about the future of work and the future of philanthropy, two particularly exciting new frontiers for human-centered design.

What you won’t learn from my bio:
I left IDEO in 2010 to start a butter business after getting totally inspired during a trip to France. I taught myself everything from procuring cream to processing to recipe development.

Joined IDEO:

Full Bio

Erin Henkel is a Senior Director of Responsive Services and New Health Ventures at IDEO in Chicago. She’s responsible for supporting businesses to create new value in the world while taking a human-centered approach to solving their toughest challenges. Erin has spent more than 10 years at IDEO with a passion for designing positive health and wellbeing outcomes, such as reimagining pediatrics with TCPA, infant HIV diagnostics with the Gates Foundation, the future of social behavior change with WW, and schizophrenia with Novartis.

As a design researcher, Erin has been published for her work in establishing how empathy can drive organizations forward, and across chronic disease, particularly diabetes. She also has written about technology’s potential for disruptive positive impact on the nature of patient and clinical experiences, and new approaches to designing products and services that reflect the changing nature of work.

She’s led a catalytic partnership and drove an IDEO pilot for the non-profit venture of The Center for Healthy Minds, aimed at improving mental and emotional wellbeing of teams. Erin has guided the design of services in healthcare with Ascensia, as well as the government with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and NYC Department of Education.

A consummate traveler, Erin has taught design-innovation classes at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, The NYU Wagner School of Public Service, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design from the California College of the Arts.