About the CfC Team

The CfC team is a multi-disciplinary cohort of collaborators, driven by intense curiosity and a desire to help make the world a better place. We are joined by work study students and research assistants from all across the RISD community.

Marisa Brown Associate Director

Marisa Angell Brown is the Associate Director of the Center for Complexity at Rhode Island School of Design. She is an art historian, educator and curator whose work focuses on the intersections between art, design and community, with a special interest in preservation, social practice art and participatory design. Her writing has appeared in Places Journal, Perspecta, Manual, Buildings and Landscapes, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and her curatorial projects have been featured in Metropolis and Architectural Record.

Before joining the CfC, Brown was an Assistant Director at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University, where she taught courses in preservation and the public humanities and directed community partnerships, public programs and many research initiatives. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, and on the State Review Board for the Rhode Island State Historic Preservation Office. Brown earned her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from Yale University; she has an MA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Princeton University.

Justin W. Cook Founding Director

Justin W. Cook is the Founding Director of the Center for Complexity. He is a strategic designer working on the world’s most challenging problem sets, such as healthcare, sustainability and education. His passion is to tackle these systems challenges by designing innovative organizational architectures.

Until 2018, Justin was Senior Lead for strategy at the Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra, where he spent a decade working to focus Finnish society on greater sustainability and human wellbeing. His portfolio included strategic design, urban systems, decarbonization, impact investing and the future of education. In 2018, Palgrave published his book Sustainability, Human Wellbeing and the Future of Education. While at Sitra, Cook was a founding member of the Helsinki Design Lab. In 2016 he joined the OECD’s Observatory for Public Sector Innovation as an advisor. He has worked with organizations such as the UNDP, IAEA, Special Operations Command, RI National Guard, Harvard, MIT, Johns Hopkins University, Google, IBM, Infosys, and Fidelity Investments. Justin holds a Master of Architecture from Harvard University and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington.

Tim Maly
Tim Maly Senior Lead

Tim Maly is Senior Lead, Strategic Design & Communications at the Center for Complexity. Tim is working on designing institutions suitable for managing existential threats and providing care beyond stigma. A writer and critical designer, Tim teaches in the Masters of Industrial Design program at RISD, helping students understand the role that communication plays in explaining and exploring ideas.

Prior to joining RISD, Tim’s work focused on the small details and vast networks at the strange edges of architecture and design. Tim is a co-founder of the Dredge Research Collaborative and of Capybara Games. As a journalist, Tim’s work has appeared in Wired, Fast Co.Design, The Atlantic, Medium, Works That Work, and Urban Omnibus. Tim and Emily Horne co-wrote The Inspection House: An impertinent field guide to modern surveillance, published by Coach House press. Tim is @doingitwrong on Twitter.

Sahib Singh Strategic Design Lead

Sahib Singh is a strategic design lead at the Center for Complexity. He’s energized to make sense of the uninterrogated beliefs and assumptions driving outcomes within complex systems and to design structures which amplify the abundant virtues within people.

At the CfC, Sahib currently co-leads a health equity project with medical professionals at the University of California San Francisco’s School of Medicine to improve health outcomes for patients with limited English proficiency and to foster a transdisciplinary model of collaboration for strategic improvement within the institution. He’s co-led workshops with front-line emergency medicine professionals to understand the issues behind difficult decisions during the pandemic’s first fall, and taught studios on mindsets/practices for navigating complexity and uncertainty with professionals at Infosys and leaders from Rhode Island Department of Health.

Prior to CfC, Sahib worked on multidisciplinary teams with organizations including eBay, American Express, Genentech and the National Institutes of Health. He co-led a type-2 diabetes pilot project in Ghana on a team of designers, engineers, and social scientists in graduate school.

Sahib holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Chemistry from NYU, magna cum laude, and a Masters of Integrated Product Design from the University of Pennsylvania.

Julie Woods Strategic Programs Lead

Julie’s path to system design work began with experience in banking, the United States Postal Service, residential construction and sales, and education. While raising a family, Julie served in elected office and became a leader in municipal government and regional politics where she was an advocate for smart, ethical and equitable economic development and resource management, and a leader and community organizer for safe, well-funded public education, civic education and civil civic engagement. Julie brings all of this experience to her work with the CfC and is currently responsible for the annual symposium, leadership in compliance with RISD policies and procedures. Due to personal experience and years of volunteer work with critically ill children and their families, Julie is a valuable contributor to our Systems of Care portfolio including our membership in the Health Equity Collaborative and is co-lead in the design of our health equity pilot of interventions to improve the hospital experience of patients with limited English proficiency. Also a former teacher of writing and English, Julie is a graduate of Suffolk and Northeastern Universities.

Amy Qu
Amy Qu Design Researcher

Amy is a multidisciplinary designer and researcher at the Center for Complexity. Amy supports the Center’s collaborations in harm reduction and strategic design, including the refinement and implementation of safer drug use interventions.

Before working at the Center, Amy received her BFA in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her current body of work focuses on public health, social equity and actionable approaches to systems change. Experienced in transdisciplinary collaboration, she’s worked with numerous large organizations on projects concerning incarcerated people’s rights, harm reduction, and health equity. She brings a strong foundation in qualitative research, product design, and a strong sense of compassion to everything she does.

Current Team Members
  • Angie Zou
  • Deanne Fernandes
Founding Members
  • Daniel Hewett
  • Katie Cush
  • Sudhir Desai
  • Toban Shadlyn
Past Team Members
  • Charlotte Clement
  • Maddie Woods
  • Micah Epstein
  • Sruti Suryanarayanan
  • Irina Wang
  • Daphne Hsu
  • Lina Lopez
  • Fi Engel
  • Ollie Rosario
  • Nick Larson
  • Jack Tufts
  • Calgary Haines-Trautman
  • Zibby Jahns
  • Lili Lai
  • Ruth Wondimu
image description image description image description image description image description