Staff

Sam Aquillano

Executive Director, Design Museum Foundation

Sam Aquillano is Founder and Executive Director of Design Museum Foundation, a national network of local design museums operating three sites Design Museum Boston, Design Museum Portland in Oregon, Design Museum San Francisco, and growing across the country. Their mission is to educate the world about the importance of design in our lives.

Design is everywhere, so the museum has no permanent address — instead, Sam and his team turn the museum inside out and turn entire cities into locally-focused, nomadic design museums. Sam earned a BFA in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and went on to design consumer electronics at Bose Corporation, as well as to teach design at Wentworth Institute of Technology, MassArt, and Babson College — where he earned his MBA.

With a passion for design, creativity, and learning, Sam creates a long-term vision for the museum and leads a dedicated team while managing key programs and strategic operations. In 2013 Sam and his team were named one of BostInno’s 50 on Fire.

Liz Pawlak

Vice President, Design Museum Foundation

Liz is the Vice President of Design Museum Foundation. She has a background in architecture and a passion for design. Her goal is to elevate design through education and her work with the Museum is constantly upholding that.  Liz places real value on clear communication and thoughtful design.

After earning a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University, Liz went on to work as a Designer at Payette for five years. She worked on laboratory and healthcare projects that ranged in scale from a room to an entire University. Her expertise in workplace culture and education stemmed from her time as the co-chair of Payette’s Young Designers Core (YDC),  where she developed unique educational opportunities within the firm. Since, she has presented on such topics as, Developing Young Leaders and Generosity in the Workplace.

 

 

 

 

Erica Rife

Managing Director, Design Museum Portland

Erica Rife is the Managing Director of Design Museum Portland. She comes from a professional background of early-stage startup support and program design, with a personal passion for art history and nutrition.

Erica began her career at MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup accelerator, where she served as the Program Director of events and educational curriculum. She holds a special interest in designing experiences and educational programs for innovative thinkers while benefitting the community as a whole. Erica loves her dog Jackson L. Samuel, hummus, hedgehogs, and Batman. She is seeking Portland’s best nachos and is open for suggestions!

Erika Ellis

Events & Marketing Producer, Design Museum Portland

Erika Ellis is the Events & Marketing Producer at Design Museum Portland. She is a Portland Native with a decade of experience in journalism, advertising, and the entertainment industry.

Often labeled one of the city’s “micro-mayors,” her superpowers are in making meaningful connections, creative problem solving, and community advocacy.

Amanda Hawkins

Exhibitions Manager, Design Museum Foundation

Amanda is the Exhibitions Manager for Design Museum Foundation.  With a degree in Art History from Skidmore College she is devoted to museum education and a self-described ‘organized creative’.  A lifelong passion for art and design led to her work with contemporary art museums and design firms from New York City to Florence, Italy.

Amanda thrives in collaborative environments and combines her wide range of interests and experiences at Design Museum Foundation where she works to curate, produce, and travel national exhibitions about design. Originally from New Hampshire, she is very proud of her years of volunteer work with children and enjoys traveling and playing tennis.

Jennifer Jackson

Executive Associate, Design Museum Foundation

Jennifer is the Executive Associate at Design Museum Foundation. Originally from Los Angeles, Jennifer graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Studio Art with a focus in Design and a double minor in Psychology and Architectural Studies.

 

Through her experience in political and consulting non-profits, Jennifer links together the intersections of business, art, and education to make things happen. Jennifer is motivated to make Design Museum accessible and exciting for people from all backgrounds. She enjoys the great outdoors and fulfilling her lifelong quest to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Brionna Atkins

Marketing Associate, Design Museum Foundation

Brionna Atkins is the Marketing Associate for Design Museum Foundation. A native of Hampton, Virginia and proud second-generation Bajan immigrant, she graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Sociology and secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. 

She has a background in media, research, and digital marketing, and is an expert in all things hiphop.  Brionna strongly believes our reality is individually and socially constructed, and by harnessing the powerful intersection of design, the arts, and education, we can shape a better version of that reality for all.