Design Dept. helps transform the way creative leaders work through individual coaching, workshops, and customized learning and development programs.

Our guided experiences help new leaders gracefully transition from individual creators to design management and support seasoned directors refresh their skills in particular areas. From the art of critique and organizational design to building cross-functional relationships and navigating difficult conversations, participants learn to treat leadership as a creative practice.

Founded in 2016 by Mia Blume, a former design leader at Pinterest, Square, and IDEO, Design Dept. specializes in working with creative professionals at high-growth technology companies of all sizes, with past participants hailing from Adobe, Airbnb, Dropbox, Evernote, Instacart, Salesforce, Wealthfront, and more.

Design Dept. is based in San Francisco and serves clients throughout the country (and sometimes the world).

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Meet the team

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Mia Blume

CEO + Leadership Coach

A former design leader at Pinterest, Square, and IDEO, Mia started Design Dept. in 2015 to help transform the way creative leaders work.

Mia’s work is informed by a deep understanding of the position of creative leaders at high-growth technology companies. She developed a new tool, the Design Leadership Profile, to help clients understand their approach to vision, team, and execution and gain critical skills within each area. She believes that when a designer’s authentic leadership style is unlocked, it impacts not only individuals and teams, but the products, services, and organizations that shape our world.


April Neufeld


With nearly two decades of crafting solutions and building design teams, April’s passions lie in cultivating sustainable and fluid organizations that can tackle the most adventurous of challenges. She believes by creating the conditions for design teams to have opportunities to think deeply, collaborate fully, and work creatively, that the best experience emerges.

She has crafted experiences with HBO, Samsung, Scholastic, and Audible. In her previous role as Director of User Experience, she led the design of Audible experiences to change how customers listen while they drive, enjoy short-form original shows, and bringing listening to life for children.

April is exploring the intersection of design, leadership, and mindfulness.


Ashlea Powell Sommer

Leadership Coach + INSTRUCTOR

With over a decade of experience at IDEO, Ashlea has worked with individuals and teams at all points on the creative leadership spectrum. A writer and design researcher by training, Ashlea is innately curious and considers conversation her medium. She has developed multiple conversation formats that help bring new perspective to well-trodden topics, and create a safe space for approaching tough subjects. She believes stories are tools for unlocking change, especially the stories we are unaware we are telling ourselves.

Ashlea was inspired to become a leadership coach based on her experience working with one while on maternity leave (aka her sabbatical), enabling a profound shift from a time often associated with self-sacrifice to one of perspective, alignment and growth. 


Natasha Halesworth

Events Director

Prior to Design Dept., Natasha lead and managed Airbnb external events. There she orchestrated a variety of creative large and small scale events including Airbnb’s Tech Talks & Design Talks series, OpenAir and events at GHC, Brooklyn Beta, SXSW and more.

Her focus has always been about the end to end experience and creating an environment to cultivate connection. Her passion for sustainability is not only reflected in her work through events, but also through her own vintage business, The Consistency Project, where she promotes a sustainable lifestyle through secondhand.


Kristen Fierro


Kristen serves as our Executive Assistant, keeping calendars flowing and sanity in check. Specifically, she manages scheduling (and rescheduling!) for coaching consults and clients as well as incoming requests related to learning and development.

Before joining Design Dept. Kristen spent two decades designing for commercial architecture, and supporting and training Architectural and Engineering firms on design software. She is passionate about supporting others, through Design Dept. and also by volunteering in her community.