vicky.pridgen@ac4d.com

Student

Vicky Pridgen

Vicky Pridgen works on the code education and outreach team at the City of Austin, where she strives to provide effective community outreach and education so that Austin continues to be a safe and livable city. Vicky is passionate about the City’s dedication to designing and building services for residents with a more human-centered approach and she feels right at home in the public sector.

Vicky graduated from Rice University where she studied linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience. After college, she served in the Peace Corps in Niger designing civic education curricula for primary school students. Since then, some of her favorite roles include managing a startup event facility in Vermont, driving communications strategy for a technology nonprofit in Madagascar, and strengthening partnerships at a startup co-working space in East Austin. Originally from chilly New Hampshire, Vicky is a graduate of Leadership Austin and currently serves on the board of the Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association.

Ever since her Peace Corps service, Vicky has been passionate about ethnography and the study of people and cultures. In each new endeavor, Vicky seeks to understand how people live their lives and what could motivate positive behavioral change. She’s excited to participate in the Austin Center for Design program to learn how to better design services and involve citizens in co-designing solutions to complex issues.

Recent blog posts

Why design?

Over the past two months, many people have asked me why Austin Center for Design. As we’re now in the final week of the first quarter of the program, it feels like an appropriate time to reflect upon life events that led to my decision to attend using the context of the final set of…

Late nights with layers

When learning any new software, you can bet that you’ll experience a learning curve. Our studio assignment this week was to digitize our sketches from the previous week’s assignment. Pat offered us a number of approaches to use depending on the time, quality, and flexibility allowed for each project. This resonated with me because—if life continues at this rate—time…

Dreaming up a new equilibrium

I learned most of my morals through children’s literature. Why should we not, then, teach business best practices through children’s books? The below comic strip shares a bedtime story being woven together between grandpa Yunus and little Emily discussing how to grow a social business. The story incorporates the perspectives of various authors whose works we…

Lettuce Tell You Stories from the Field

*vegetable puns intended Introduction Over the past three weeks, we have been doing contextual inquiry interviews with the customers and staff of Lettuce meal delivery service. Contextual inquiry is essentially a way for researchers to get jalapeño business and observe your behavior and the context in which you interact with something. In our case, we…

Failing forward

Our classmate Cristina shared a perspective in class the other evening that stuck with me. She mentioned how she felt that we are learning to fail fast, but also learning to fail forward. By now, we’ve now received critiques in all three of our classes and we’ve all discovered that we have ample room for improvement. “In life,…

Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable

There are some things that I’m pretty comfortable with. Meeting new humans, gauging their comfort or discomfort, allaying fears and insecurities, building relationships… and yet, there are many more situations that we’ve experienced during the past three weeks that I’m far less than comfortable with. The least comfortable experience for me to date has been putting a value upon and “selling” my…

A step-by-step guide to designing for change

Why do we integrate theory courses into this program? For our first assignment in our “Design, Society and the Public Sector” course, we read the works of five authors: Edward L. Bernays: Manipulating Public Opinion: The Why and The How Maurizio Vitta: The Meaning of Design Neil Postman: Informing Ourselves to Death Victor Papanek: Rebel with a…

Blameless Postmortems

On the final day of my first week of AC4D, a friend introduced me to the concept of blameless postmortems. I’m sure that he wasn’t aware just how fitting and timely his article share was for me. Even after only seven days of class, I’m already certain that I will fail many, many times during the course of this program,…

Working on a problem that is meaningful

My favorite moment today was watching AC4D alum Adam Chasen try to find the words to describe why—upon graduating from AC4D a few months ago—he had opted for his current path as a social entrepreneur bringing KeyUp to life, instead of a more cushy role with a corporation. Adam chose these words: “This is a real privilege…

It’s not can we build it, but should we build it?

Even though AC4D faculty member Emiliano Villarreal was teaching us about M.V.P. when he asked the class this question, it struck a chord with me. Much of the reason that I’m so excited about this experience is that we are learning the skills to help solve wicked problems. To me, this means that we’re trying to ensure that the programs,…

Creation through ideation

Is it too soon to have already found a favorite part of this process? Today we took our field research data points, debated themes, crafted insights, and then the fun began. Ideation is, effectively, an improv-style brainstorming session where you allow yourself to say “yes, and” to every concept that comes to mind and then…

Building empathy

During our first day of field research yesterday, it wasn’t hard for our group to relate to the gamut of sentiment expressed by the individuals that we interviewed. We heard perspectives ranging from a deep frustration with the public transit system and some of its pain points, to a goosebumps-evoking sense of pride felt by an interviewee recounting when she brought…

Keep Calm and AC4D On

If I had a single takeaway from today’s orientation, it would be that this will be a challenging program and I’m going to need to be on my A-game to make it through successfully. AC4D director Ruby Ku began the day by overviewing the school, curriculum, and program logistics and then we dove into student introductions after lunch. During the alumni panel…

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