Design for Wildlife

About Mariana


About Me

For many years I worked on poverty alleviation and humanitarian aid challenges, by using the power of the design process to bering innovative solutions to the world. But in 2017 I quit my job. I quit because even though I loved the work, there was one area that had not yet embraced innovation in order to increase its impact. One area that I profoundly loved and wanted to dedicate my life to. I decided to embark on a journey of finding ways to bring a powerful discipline that I have seen yield incredible and impactful results in every other sector, into the one where it is sorely missing, which is wildlife conservation.

Design for Wildlife has been the result of a long process of understanding the intersection between conservation and design, so that together, we can systematically and predictably bring innovation to wildlife conservation.

TED Talk on Innovation for Wildlife Conservation coming soon to Photo Credit: TED/Ryan Lash

TED Talk on Innovation for Wildlife Conservation coming soon to
Photo Credit: TED/Ryan Lash



Previous to her work in wildlife conservation, Mariana was the Design Innovation Lead for the International Rescue Committee where she led innovation for the organization’s newest initiative, the Airbel Center. Airbel is tasked with designing and testing large-scale solutions for people affected by crisis, such as war and natural disasters. Mariana led teams working on innovative solutions for the Ebola crisis in West Africa and most recently led the redesign of the refugee resettlement process in the United States.

In 2013, she was named Global Design Fellow for where she worked on poverty alleviation projects such as reducing teen pregnancies in Zambia, building social enterprises for female farmers in India, supporting victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and working with The Rockefeller Foundation to write a book on the informal workforce in Africa and Asia.

She was a Fellow at Polymath Ventures, where she co-lead a team tasked to design companies meant to scale to over a billion dollars in Latin America. During her early career, Mariana worked on leading research and market viability on concepts aimed at improving the quality of life for people without access to running water in Latin America. 

Mariana graduated as a product designer from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She has taught at USC Marshall School of Business and been a guest lecturer at Berkeley Haas School of Business, Stanford University, Parsons School of Design and speaker at TED Headquarters, Caltech University and Art Center College of Design. She is currently a TED Resident and is based out of TED’s Headquarters in New York City.

Awards & Recognitions:

TED Residency, 2018 

Smithsonian / Cooper-Hewitt Museum Exhibit, 2018

Core77 Best Service Design Award, 2016 Fellowship, 2013

The Tech Awards: Young Innovator Award, 2012 

NCIIA Sustainable Vision Grant, 2012

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Exhibit, 2012

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“Design can save your life”
Filmed at Caltech University, TEDx


To learn more about my previous work as a designer in humanitarian aid and poverty alleviation, please visit