LinkedInDawn Danby

Dawn Danby

Sr. Sustainable Design Program Manager at Autodesk

San Francisco Bay Area
  1. Autodesk,
  2. Catapult Design,
  3. California College of the Arts
  2. Worldchanging,
  3. Noel Harding Studio
  1. Bainbridge Graduate Institute
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Sr. Sustainable Design Program Manager

– Present

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I live at the intersection of design, sustainability and business. A deeply curious sustainable design strategy geek, I'm passionate about applying human ingenuity towards a much better future.

I've been immersed in sustainable design, across disciplines, through my whole career. I've made furniture, designed civil infrastructure, created teaching tools for engineers and designers, and have advised companies on environmental impact. In recent years I've specialized in shaping, and communicating about, new sustainable technologies and approaches to design.

I’ve been fortunate to dive deep on a range of topics, including: product design and lifecycle impacts; high-performance building; local food systems; public art; business strategy; engineering and design education; urban transformation.

I believe in making as a way of learning. I believe in drawing and writing and building by hand. I’m good with power tools.


Sr. Sustainable Design Program Manager

– Present (6 years 5 months)San Francisco Bay Area

We work to help all designers create more sustainable designs for a better world.

As part of Autodesk's founding sustainability team, I led the first intrapreneurial, cross-industry effort exploring new sustainable design product offerings.

I created the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, a free online education platform for applying sustainability to design and engineering. The Sustainability Workshop has reached over a million learners, and has been integrated into classrooms around the world.

Currently encouraging makers to channel their creativity towards planetary challenges.

Board Member

Catapult Design
– Present (2 years 10 months)San Francisco Bay Area

Adjunct Professor, MBA in Design Strategy

California College of the Arts
– Present (3 years)San Francisco Bay Area

Teach the DMBA Sustainability Studio, guiding students to create viable, ecologically + socially responsible businesses


– Present (8 years)San Francisco Bay Area

Consulted on design strategy for clients including Unilever, Autodesk, BSSP for Mini Cooper, Channel 4 (UK), Sustainable Minds

Developed Beeline, a virtual marketplace for optimizing local food distribution, which merged with Portland-based Ecotrust’s Food Hub.

(1 year 6 months)San Francisco Bay Area


(3 years 1 month)Greater Seattle Area

Designer + Project Manager

Noel Harding Studio
(3 years 6 months)Toronto, Canada Area

Teacher + Ecohouse Lead

University of Windsor
(1 year 5 months)Windsor Ontario Canada

Design Assistant & Woodworker

Macek Furniture Design
(1 year 1 month)Austin, Texas Area

Design Associate

(1 year 1 month)Austin, Texas Area


  • Sustainable Design
  • Product Design
  • Design Thinking
  • Interaction Design
  • Design Strategy
  • Industrial Design
  • User-centered Design
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Experience Design
  • 3D visualization
  • User Research
  • User Experience
  • Ethnography
  • Strategy
  • Concept Development
  • Service Design
  • Green Building
  • Design Management
  • Sustainable Business
  • User Interface Design
  • Illustrator
  • User Experience Design
  • Concept Design
  • Information Design
  • Concept Generation
  • Illustration
  • Sketching
  • Design Research
  • See 13+  See less


  1. English

    Native or bilingual proficiency
  2. French

    Limited working proficiency


Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century(Link)

Abrams Books
March 2011

A guided tour through the most exciting new tools, models, and ideas for building a better future.


Whole systems thinking in design(Link)

Develop3D Sustainability
August 2011

As successful as some energy efficiency measures have been, they’re not doing enough to keep our worldwide energy consumption levels from steadily rising. What’s gone wrong? One explanation would be that engineers are still designing for short-term energy gains, instead of keeping the whole system in mind and designing for maximum long-term energy efficiency gains.


Engineering for radical resource efficiency(Link)

Machine Design
November 2011

Many engineers often latch on to what seems to be a solution before appropriately defining a problem. This can be a big issue in product development, where design teams are often located in different silos and assigned narrowly scoped tasks. (...) A more-effective, but less-familiar, approach is called “whole-systems thinking.” (...) The basic idea is to analyze and consider the way constituent parts of a system relate to one another, instead of merely focusing on the parts themselves.

Good Intention and Rounding Errors: Occupational Hazards of Sustainable Design(Link)

Fast Company
October 2009

An occupational hazard of working in sustainable design is the constant reminder that everything has impact. For everything in your field of view, materials and energy were wrestled from the ground and shipped around the earth in impossibly complex ways. Human intention versus human consequence. Sigh. Some decision-makers are self-described designers, but many more are engineers and businesspeople, whose priorities are more pragmatic than lyrical: How can we use far fewer materials and get the same results?

The Key to Sustainable Product Creation: The Marriage of Engineering and Design(Link)

May 2012

Make friends with engineers. Tell stories with numbers. Design for humans.


Bainbridge Graduate Institute

Honors & Awards

2011: INDEX Award Finalist, Autodesk Sustainability Workshop (Denmark)
2009: Rising Talent, Women's Forum for Economy & Society (France)
2009: Fast Company Most Creative People in Business
2007: Metropolis NEXT Generation Competition Runner-Up
2007: Winner, RSA Design Directions Competition (UK)
2005: Speaker, TEDGlobal, Oxford UK
2004: Competition Winner, with Noel Harding Studio Team: Ft. Lauderdale Airport Public Art Master Plan
2002: Viridian Design + Global Business Network Biofuture Competition Winner
2002: SXSWi Festival Web Design Competition Finalist
2000: Rachel Carson Environmental Award, RISD Department of Industrial Design

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