-Detroit-area nonprofit leader and educator drives the development of innovative design thinking learning models –
May 1, 2023 (DEARBORN, Michigan) — Peers from the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Design Interest Group presented Deborah Parizek with the 2023 NAEA Outstanding Design Educator Award at a convening in San Antonio, Texas. She is the Executive Director of Henry Ford Learning Institute (HFLI) and an educator with 30 years of experience in dynamic learning environments.
Deborah drives HFLI’s efforts to advance excellence in education for all through hands-on Deeper Learning by Doing® experiences and environments that blend culturally responsive principles, design thinking, and high-leverage education practices. Deeper Learning by Doing® helps people build the skills they need to connect with others, understand complex challenges, design and develop solutions to problems in their community.
Deborah is an early adopter and advocate of design thinking in K-20 education. “Design thinking skills and mindsets connect directly to 8 of the Top Ten in-demand job skills, as identified by the World Economic Forum. I am personally humbled to receive the NAEA Outstanding Educator Award. More importantly, I appreciate the opportunity to uplift design thinking education and how important it is when preparing students for the future of work,” remarked Deborah.
Over time, and under her leadership, HFLI’s focus has grown to include out-of-school learning for young people from middle school through college, with a range of programs developed in partnership with organizations that serve Black and brown youth. In addition to reflecting HFLI’s Deeper Learning by Doing® approach, the nonprofit’s out-of-school programs have a consistent framework that incorporates: introductory activities to establish the culture and understand individual and team identities; design thinking tools, methods, and mindsets to understand a meaningful challenge, collaborate to develop a solution, and gather early feedback; a guided process for developing and delivering a compelling “first look” presentation to a panel of community members familiar with the challenge; and attentiveness to personal well-being and program culture through play. For example, HFLI launched Latina Leaders x Design® in 2022 with support from the Google Impact Challenge for Women and Girls to help young U.S. Latinas change their short- and long-term educational, professional, and economic trajectories. Latina Leaders x Design® is built on this framework for out-of-school learning, with an additional focus on personal development and additional culturally significant elements.
Prior to joining HFLI in 2005, Deborah designed and directed extensive teacher leadership development programs for multiple school systems and earned the distinction of Master Teacher from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As a founding teacher at Henry Ford Academy in Dearborn, Michigan, she helped shape the high school’s vision and write the curriculum for many core components, including the Senior Mastery Process.
A thoughtful champion of human-centered design’s role in changing how we learn, teach, and lead, Deborah is today a frequent presenter at international, national, and local events, consistently sharing actionable information with real-life applications. To learn more about upcoming HFLI open-enrollment summer workshops for educators, visit HFLI.org/upcoming.