Ken Zinser

About me

I’m Ken, a Seattle-based designer organizing people and ideas to make systems change for social good.

Sounds pretty cool, don’t you think? I’m not ashamed to admit how hard I worked on that sentence. 18 or 19 words, each one carefully chosen for its definition and connotation and relation to the words around it. But behind those words is a lifetime of trial and error, joy and sadness, curiosity and discontent.

This website is at once a journal and a mirror. And a fidget spinner. And with any luck, my woefully finite attention to imperceptible details will amount to an honest reflection of who I am.

Someone, maybe a grade school teacher, once described me as “cerebral.” At least for today, I prefer words like “thoughtful” or “considerate.”

Among other things, I’m a designer; a project manager; an ice hockey fanatic; a husband, a son, a brother, a great-uncle, an introvert; a dog owner; and a f-ing webmaster1.


Professional experience

I currently work at Seattle Indian Health Board, a Federally Qualified Health Center and Urban Indian Health Program offering culturally attuned care to the greater Seattle area while advocating for American Indian and Alaska Natives across the country.

In 2018 I joined SIHB’s new communications team with the aim of establishing a design practice. I developed visual communications standards and put systems in place to streamline workflows and build capacity. I also recruited and mentored other creative professionals.

Today I work with SIHB’s clinical directors and executive leaders to enact agency-wide strategic initiatives. I combine my training in design thinking facilitation with principles of service design, continuous process improvement, and organizational project management to provide adaptive frameworks our teams can use to collaborate, to care for our patients, and to serve our community.

Some of the major initiatives I’ve worked on over the past two years include:

Before moving in-house at Seattle Indian Health Board, I spent most of my career with design agencies and strategic communications firms serving nonprofits and mission-driven organizations like American Society of Civil Engineers, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, National Association of Independent Schools, and Ploughshares Fund. I worked closely with our clients and their stakeholders and was responsible for the design and development of interactive products from discovery to delivery. I’m slowly but surely revamping my design portfolio.


Education

I hold a BFA with honors in Graphic Design from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC. My senior thesis explored the benefits and pitfalls of three budding social impact programs. You can see my other student work on Behance.

I had tons of good times with my cohort — I owe a lot to Katherine Carberry, Ronald Cortez, Noha Khashoggi, Derek Long, Nancy Palm, and Mike Theodoran. Not to mention my professors Antonio Alcala, John Carmody, Francheska Guerrero, Maria Habib, Ramona Hutko, Antje Kharchi, Robert McVearry, Alice Powers, David Ramos, Johan Severtson and especially Sam Shelton.

Before pursuing an education in design, I spent two years at Miami University of Ohio. I mostly studied English literature and creative writing.

Personal interests

I genuinely treasure time with my wife, Sarah, and our dog, Olive. I also enjoy roller skating woodworking, playing ping pong, coming up with band names, and collecting flea market dinosaur figurines. I used to hunt for funky neon signs around the city and share my browser tabs. This summer I’m trying to get back into bouldering and rollerblading.