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 Senior Lead

Tim Maly is Senior Lead, Strategic Design & Communications. At the Center for Complexity, he is working on Nuclear Threat Reduction; Opioids, Care, and Addiction; the Future of Food Systems; and supporting our Research Assistants. A writer and critical designer, he teaches in the Masters of Industrial Design program at RISD, helping students understand the role of writing and speaking in a design practice.

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

Toban Shadlyn Strategic Designer & Researcher

Toban Shadlyn is a Strategic Designer and Researcher. She is leading the Design & Education and Opioids, Care, & Addiction portfolio work at the Center for Complexity. Prior to joining the CfC in 2018, Toban worked as an interior architect in Western Canada and most recently in Rhode Island, specializing in adaptive reuse projects for residential, commercial and civic spaces. She has also spent time working as a strategic designer with the Rhode Island State government, Rhode Island Public Libraries, and municipal government in Edmonton Alberta Canada.

Toban holds a Masters of Design in Interior Architecture from RISD, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta and a Certificate in Foresight from the Istituto Europeo Di Design in Barcelona, Spain.

Sahib Singh Strategic Design Lead

Sahib Singh is a Strategic Design Lead stewarding projects on complex spaces in Emergency Medicine, Civics and City Making, and facilitation practices for complex environments. He’s vested in how we see questions and connections which go unnoticed.

Translating across perspectives, Sahib has worked on multidisciplinary teams with organizations such as 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, and co-led the development of a prototype and patent as a hybrid team in high school to equip wheelchairs to independently mount sidewalks which lack curb cutouts.

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 Woods came to the Center for Complexity and Strategic Programs in early 2019 to provide administrative and logistical support for programs and events. Her varied background—in education, government, community organizing, finance, real estate development and more!—quickly made her a valued member of the team.

Prior to coming to RISD, Julie served as a 3 term Selectman, and worked on economic and cultural development in the Blackstone Valley. She organized conferences on special education, co-founded grassroots organizations to support public education, and founded a speakers group on civic dialogue. She has also worked in real estate development and sales, in the finance industry, and taught English and Writing at Northeastern University where she earned her MA. Julie also worked at Fitchburg State as a researcher, and with graduate students as the editor of a publication on young adult literature. Her undergraduate work at Suffolk University was in English with a concentration in journalism. She has written for newspapers, radio, and magazines, and has been a writer and field producer for public access cable programming.

Current Team Members
  • Calgary Haines-Trautman
  • Zibby Jahns
Past Team Members
  • Katie Cush
  • Charlotte Clement
  • Maddie Woods
  • Micah Epstein
  • Sruti Suryanarayanan
  • Irina Wang
  • Daphne Hsu
  • Lina Lopez
  • Sophie Engel
  • Ollie Rosario
  • Nick Larson
  • Jack Tufts
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