Ken Tanabe Resume: Design Leader
A versatile creative leader with deep design expertise, unusually broad cultural fluency, and a passion for harmonizing diverse audiences and information.


Ken Tanabe Resume Timeline. Spans from 1996 to the present. Highlights include 1998: early graduation, valedictorian. 2004: Graduate degree. 2004: Launched new global holiday. 2006: Washington Post feature. 2010: Distinguished University Teaching Award. 2012: Beyoncé project. 2014: Google Creative Lab. 2017: Created #3 trending hash tag on Twitter. 2019: Joined AIGA NY board. 2021: Team wins Global CBDC Challenge.

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  • Experienced leader of creative teams and projects
  • Award-winning professor in design, creative management
  • Press-featured social change and community organizer
  • Speaker at 90 venues from conferences to universities

Work Experience

Visa, New York
Senior Director, Design Forward, 2022-present

I lead a design team focused on defining future strategic opportunities and evolving existing products while delivering short and long-term business results. A build on the success of my existing team, I defined an expanded remit to lead a highly collaborative horizontal function with diverse stakeholders including executive, business, and technical partners across our organization.

Visa, New York
Design Director, Digital Partnerships & Fintech, 2020-2022

Selected to lead a net-new design team dedicated to growing partnerships with global tech, big tech, fintech, and digital currency/blockchain (e.g. crypto, CBDC, NFT). In collaboration with business development, designers, developers, and others, we created new models, engagement strategies, and digital experiences.

Visa, New York
Director, Innovation Design (Experience and Engagement), Visa NY Innovation Studio, 2018-2020

Developed engagement frameworks that drive innovation through a human-centered design practice. Delivered session content and facilitated client workshops in collaboration with multidisciplinary teams. Prototyped digital experiences and produced media for large-scale immersions.

J&J Design (Johnson & Johnson Design and Innovation Studio), New York
Design Manager, 2016-2018

Integrated design across all of the company’s business groups in service of innovation. Managed dynamic design teams within a matrix organization. Advocated and represented human-centered design within multidisciplinary teams of leaders, scientists, engineers, and other specialists. Combined leadership, design thinking, strategy, and craft.

Gretel, New York
Technical Director, Lead Animator, 2012-2015 (multiple contracts)

Select projects: technical direction for Google Chromebook takeover of multiple Times Square video billboards. Lead animation for Viceland, television network for youth media brand Vice (won awards from Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club, D&AD).

Google Creative Lab, New York
Creative, 2013-2014 (multiple contracts)

Worked with multidisciplinary teams on fifteen confidential projects to imagine and develop future Google products: concept creation, prototyping, design, animation.

Imaginary Forces, New York
Creative Director, Art Director, Designer, Animator, 2008-2015 (multiple contracts)

Select projects: creative direction of a confidential top-ranked digital multi-platform project (responsive web, native iOS and Android apps); art direction for Lincoln Center architectural displays in collaboration with architects Diller Scofidio and Renfro.

Dirt Empire: Beyoncé UN Performance, New York
Art Director, Technical Director, 2012 (contract)

Supervised a creative team and technical pipeline for an immersive large-scale experience featuring Beyoncé’s live performance of “I Was Here.” The event was in honor of World Humanitarian Day. Social media impressions exceeded one billion via Thunderclap.

Freestyle Collective, New York
Senior Designer/Animator, 2005-2007

Select projects: art direction of BET J network redesign, Comedy Central promo design and animation. Select additional clients: American Express, Samsung, Polo Ralph Lauren, AMC, Apple.

AKQA, Washington, DC
Designer, 2000-2001

Select projects: website page design for DuPont, identity and website design for WorldCom, website design and research for Noor (Cairo-based Middle East internet solutions provider).

Ken Tanabe Design
Creative Director, 1998-present

Select projects: design for Pentatonix “PTX, Vol. II” album cover, including Grammy-winning single “Daft Punk.” Identity, website, poster, and print design for Brooklyn Historical Society “Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations” programming series.

See more: Designer

Loving Day (Design-driven Social Change Project)
Founder, President, 2004-present

Created a “Loving Day” holiday for diverse families and their children. Developed it into the world’s largest network of multiethnic community events. The #lovingday hash tag has trended three times on Twitter (once at #3, twice at #5). Extensive global press includes CNN, NPR, Time, and BBC.

AIGA NY (Professional Association for Design)
Board Member, 2019-2021

With 3,000 members, AIGA NY is the largest of 70 nationwide AIGA chapters. Served on the Advocacy committee, facilitated workshops, developed programming, built community, and supported the mission of cultivating the future of design.

See more: Organizer

Parsons School of Design (Distinguished University Teaching Award Winner)
Part Time Assistant Professor, 2003-2019

Faculty in Design & Technology, and Strategic Design & Management departments. Select classes: Managing Creative Teams, Information (Data) Visualization, Motion Graphics (Advanced Techniques), interactive design, print design.

Yale University, School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design
Guest Critic, 2003-present

Classes critiqued include Design Research (SVA MFA Products of Design program), Senior Project 2: Capstone (Parsons School of Design), Design for Video and Film (Yale University School of Art).

See more: Educator

HOW Design Conference, Global PR Summit, Harvard, etc.
Public Speaker, 2004-present

Over 90 engagements at conferences, universities, and cultural institutions. Speaker, panelist, and moderator with a focus on social change through design and building diverse communities.

See more: Speaker

Select Press

See more: Press


Parsons School of Design, New York
MFA (Master of Fine Arts), Design & Technology master’s degree (2002-2004)

New School University, New York
Individual classes: Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Basic Accounting, The Nonprofit: Idea to Reality (2007-2011)

University of Maryland, College Park, MD
BA (Bachelor of Arts), Fine Art/Graphic Design bachelor’s degree (1996-1998, early graduation, department valedictorian)

Fluent in English and French; student of Spanish and Japanese

Skills: Technical

Visual Software
Hands-on expertise in Figma, Sketch, and Adobe Creative Cloud (primarily Photoshop, Illustrator, XD, After Effects).

Code and Scripting
Experienced in HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript and similar; responsive front-end frameworks (e.g. Bootstrap, Foundation); content management systems aka CMS (e.g. WordPress, Drupal).

Corporate Communication Tools
Fluent in industry-standard applications, e.g. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Apple Keynote.

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