Design for Good Spotlight: Theresa Johnson

Interview with Theresa Johnson
Art Director, Discount Tire
Creative and Marketing Department

AIGA Arizona is thrilled to present the next interview in our ongoing series of Design for Good Spotlight interviews. Each interview focuses on an Arizona-based creative professional whose work positively affects our communities, and embodies the goals of AIGA’s Design for Good Initiative: to ignite, accelerate and amplify design-driven social change.


Give us an overview of the AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon.
I participated in Arizona’s very first AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon. I was a team lead for the group of creatives assigned to MOMA’s House, a non-profit that provides housing and support to women coming from abusive and/or sex trafficking situations. MOMA stands for My Own Movement toward Achievement. We had two developers, two designers, and a content marketer on our team. We met with Marion, CEO and founder of MOMA’s House, and Taura, a MOMA’s House employee, two weeks before the event to assess their creative and marketing needs. Based on our conversation, the team determined that MOMA’s House could use a brand refresh. On the day of the CreateAthon, we worked 24 hours straight to develop a new logo, business cards, and informational brochure, a postcard, a new website, t-shirts, and a new social media content strategy.

What first drew you to the AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon?
I always enjoy volunteering whenever my schedule permits and I was excited to find out about the CreateAthon. An opportunity to make a difference for my community and use skills gained in my professional life? It is a perfect match for me. I also liked the fact that I got to meet creative people from all disciplines, something that doesn’t happen often when you work full-time for an in-house advertising department.

Was there something unexpected/interesting that happened during the project/process?
A lot of fascinating things happened during the AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon, but one of the most surprising things came about during the interview with Marion and Taura a couple weeks before the event. When we first met with Marion and Taura, they admitted that they didn’t even know who submitted MOMA’s House for the event, but they were very happy for the opportunity. It was nice to see such a vital program receive well-deserved recognition.

What are your hopes for the AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon, will you do it every year, grow it bigger?
I would love to see the Arizona AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon become something that happens every year. I don’t know that I would necessarily want to see it grow bigger in size, but perhaps in frequency. I think you lose opportunities to connect with people during the process when it becomes too large. If there were CreateAthon events more often, it could impact more people while continuing to be a great place to cultivate relationships in the creative community.

What processes were involved in the AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon? Is there a particular manner in which the work has to unfold?
There was some very critical client and market research that had to be done in order to determine what the key deliverables would be. We ended up doing an empathy map of the people who would support or need support from MOMA’s House. Without this discovery process, I think we would’ve missed out on crucial information that made the brand refresh more successful.

Is the outcome what you expected to see? If not, how did you originally envision the outcome, and how has it changed?
After all the work, all 24 hours with zero sleep and too much caffeine, the project really came together in a way that we all felt would help MOMA’s House reach more people. It was a lot like those nights during school finals when you pull an all-nighter just to get as much as possible done. We came together as a team to keep each other motivated. We shared different ideas, made suggestions, and came up with solutions. When we presented to Marion and Taura the following morning, they cried. Our entire team was, of course, exhausted, but seeing how overcome they were made the sleep deprivation worth it.

What piece of advice would you give to other people who want to get involved in a Design for Good project?
I say go for it with an open mind and remember that you are there to serve people who are in need. It’s best to work together and find solutions that everyone can be happy with—which really isn’t that different from the jobs we do every day.

Do you follow any other Design for Good projects/designer? If so, tell about one or two of your favorite Design for Good and what makes them your \favorite?
I actually participated in Design for Good project called “Turn the Labels,” by Lucid Agency. They did an informational presentation on their campaign that was created to bring awareness to the opioid addition epidemic. The presentation struck me as a great way to share the process of creative development while simultaneously educating people on an important issue. I learned a lot and have been able to share the knowledge I acquired during the event.

If you had unlimited funds, what Design for Good project would you start right now?
That’s a good question. I actually really enjoy the goal and purpose of the AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon, to provide non-profits that can’t afford it with professional marketing support. If I had the funds, I would run a program where new non-profits could apply once a year to have all brand identity and marketing materials created for them. Funds could be used to hire an agency that would be able to fully devote all of their resources and services to providing the best possible support to non-profits. There are so many great non-profit programs out there doing noble work, and I’d like the opportunity to help as many of them as I can in the best way I know how, through design.


Want to learn more about AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon Arizona and other great Design for Good events? Check out AIGA Arizona’s and

By communications
Published June 12, 2017
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