MENU

People
Category

Alumni Story – Jonathan Rewers

 

 

 

1. Who are you and what do you do?
Tough question. I can freely say that I have been called many things over the years. Most recently someone called me a “badass,” and I’ll accept that answer. But seriously, my name is Jonathan Rewers, and I am a recovering bureaucrat. It is my job simply to change the world. Change physical space, add new services, redesign old ones and change how people experience their daily life. I love what I do. I work day to day for the City and County of San Francisco, in the Municipal Transportation Agency. There I am the Manager of Design Strategy and Delivery. I have built things, changed things and advanced things. I love my job and what I do as a designer, and today could not imagine doing anything else.

2. What project/job/event/research are you currently working on? Please tell us a little about the impetus, content, expected impact of this work.

I have been working in the area of city innovation and my research, methods and work is something I iterate and enhance every year. I did this work at Parsons as part of SDM and continue to do so as faculty. I am currently working on a 5-year plan. Part 1 is where I embed designers in government (my team!). Last year I worked with cities large, design firms and non-profits on how to integrate design thinking to deal with their largest problems. Part 2 is creating a new non-profit called Project CityThink, it has been a 2-year labor of love and all the final pieces are coming into place. Part 3 is pretty radical, so am keeping it top secret for now. Specifically, right now, I am designing hiring processes, public engagement touchpoints, and I get to create whole new mentoring program for city officials. Oh, and I am also implementing a $1.6 billion development program, where we will complete joint-development projects that have yet to be seen in the world (let’s mix housing and transportation)! A focus of my work is the future of transportation in general. Today, I am at the Designing Cities Conference in Los Angeles, and it really made me think about mobility and what’s next. It is a global questions, and wicked problems are those I find the most fun. I wrote in my notebook: “San Francisco First —–> San Francisco Next.” Meaning, we have been the best when it comes to the technology, services and experiences around transportation…….but what’s next? I am going to explore that over the next few months.

3. In what ways did the work/research you did at parsons prepare you for that transition and the work you’re doing now (please be specific)?

Cities are in my blood and in what I do. My summer trip this year was trip around the world. In 24, days I went from Hong Kong, to Bangkok, Dubai, Athens and my favorite Copenhagen. That only names a few of the stops along the way. Parsons helped me refine my thinking on change and the future! I remember being in my second year studio, and being sure about my research, but after expressing my idea to my colleagues, it was clear that while I understood what I was thinking, no one else did. “Jonathan, you are too into this, your bias is showing.” In that moment, a light came on, and I needed to step out of me, and step into the user I was solving for. From there, I re-designed my own job, built my 5-year plan, and so far, so good. Parsons more importantly helped me sharpen my skills, made me efficient, but brought me to a place of excellence.

4. How has the MS-SDM program challenged you to grow as a strategic designer?

The program challenged me to take on all the roles of today’s design industry, whether it be project manager, interaction designer, design researcher or even graphic design. Honestly, I had gotten used to being “the boss,” and while I could be clear in my vision to my teams, I was stale in my “making” skills. Parsons definitely challenged me in that area, I could rely on no one but me to get things done. That made me better, and as I said brought me to a point of excellence. This is why I teach in the program today, to pass on what I have learned and help people take their skills to a point of excellence. Let me put it this way. Today, I have no shortage of work, oh and it is all awesome.

5. If you were to give one piece of advice to current students, what would it be?

When the program seems hard, before you react, start typing that email, setting up that meeting, just stop. Stop and think about what you want out of the program, stop and practice the skills, stop and think. I can absolutely say you get out of the program what you put into it. You are here to become strategic thinkers who have the ability to walk into any situation and solve the big problems. I promise you you’ll get that. So when it is hard, just stop, just think – then act. Plus, there is a network out there to help you. Reach out to it. Some of my best friends in the world today, I met through the SDM Program. Years later, I speak to many of them every week.

6. What book are you reading right now?

Haha. I hate to read. All I do is read, read, read! I just had to take a bunch of federal regulations and design a whole new 10-year program. But, as a hobby, I write. I’ll be in a city somewhere in the world. I’ll tuck into a Starbucks, and just spend a good 30 – 45 minutes to write. It is an awesome three part story (also top secret). I am about 30% into part 1 now. What I will say, is I take a point in history, change that point in history, and we follow a character nearly 75 years later to see the result. The story is about finding yourself, discovering others, and finding purpose. It’s always fun for me to tell parts of the story over a beer or glass of wine. I test prototypes and even get ideas on how the story should evolve with the main character. One such session happened in Dubrovnik, Croatia last year (for GOT fans, that’s King’s Landing). There was wine, we were on a beach, and one of the scenes in my book was designed right there!

Read More

Get to know your Professor : Meet Manoj Fenelon

October 9, 2018 • Faculty Stories, People • Views: 179

  1. What do you look forward to when you get out of your bed every morning Practicing on my trumpet 2. Sustainability for you in one word is….? Respecting life 3. What is the most thought provoking book/article you have read recently and Why? What would you want readers to take away

Alumni + Faculty Shawn Nelson’s Lovesac is going public!

June 22, 2018 • Alumni Stories, Faculty insights, Faculty Stories, Feature Homepage, Featured, News, Student News • Views: 343

Forbes: Millennials Love Lovesac, But Will Shareholders? The Furniture Company Announces $42M IPO Visit Lovesac

Vote for Alumni Core 77 Design Award | BEAR

June 19, 2018 • People, Student News, Student Projects • Views: 183

Pear Nerngchamnong (MS SDM Class of 2017) was honored as a “Student Notable” in the Strategy & Research category of the Core77 Design Awards 2018! In her project page, she put Parsons School of Design in there (and among four student honorees, there are other projects that also came

Photos from the SDM Alumni & Mentor Wrap Party!

April 30, 2018 • Events, Featured, People • Views: 246

The SDM Alumni & Mentor Wrap Party took place this weekend and what a turnout! This event happens every year and is a great opportunity to network with professionals and meet up with fellow students. See some of the photos from the event below!

Alumni Story – Mark Leal

April 24, 2018 • Alumni Stories, Featured, People • Views: 1897

  Who are you and what do you do? I’m Mark Anthony Leal and I’m currently VP, Sr. Insights & Design Strategist for Citi Fintech. Where are you originally from? I’m from San Antonio, TX, went to school in Boston and then moved to NYC. What year did you graduate from the

Guest Speaker This Week!

April 23, 2018 • Featured, People, Presentations, Student Insights, Student Projects • Views: 213

Join us this Thursday, April 26 @ 11am EST for guest speaker, Terry Behan! Terry is a 2nd year Ms SDM student doing interesting design + entrepreneurial work in many emerging markets. We’ll talk with Terry on some of the main questions and issues we explore in the course Design Innovation

Luxury with a used tag still holds ample value

April 16, 2018 • Featured, People, Publications • Views: 1294

Luxury with a used tag still holds ample value “In the region, this formula has been used to great advantage by a handful of portals.”   Ms SDM alum, Roupen Karageuzian, is the CEO of Designer-24, an online designer dress hire service based in the UAE that is making luxury fashion