Lea Stewart, IDSA
Senior Manager | Newell Brands
Beyond my core role in industrial design, I’ve been a design educator, blogger, public speaker, and even a model maker. I am currently a Senior Manager at Newell Brands, Baby Division. I lead a team of industrial designers and engineers to create products that bring sanity, safety, and joy to families. You can learn more at leastewart.com.
Statement of Candidacy (Women in Design Committee - Central | 2022-2023 term)
Last year marked my 20 years of industry experience, which motivated me to give back in a big way. I became a board member for Women in ID Chicago. I completed 10 talks to ID student and professional groups, including the IDSA Northern Lakes and Central District Ohio Chapters. I started a small group think tank for women leaders in ID, crossing the professional and educational worlds to form community and tackle touch issues together in monthly virtual meets.
Because of the active role I’ve taken in giving my expertise, time, and voice to the ID community, leaders are reaching out for guidance on how they can be better allies to women in our field. I am being sought out as a mentor for allyship with Women in ID (WIID) and I want to scale this good work that has been started.
I have depth of experience in design leadership and navigating complex systems. At Newell Brands, an international consumer products company that employees over 200 designers, I oversee a global team of industrial designers for the baby division. I also lead our ID hiring committee and I am a contributing member of our women’s employee resource group. I want to apply that expertise to this challenge of Central District Representative.
If given the role, I will influence the industry by partnering with design leaders in creating equity for Women in ID (WIID). I will do this by:
(1) Mentoring businesses that want to grow in their allyship. As an example, in this past year I have been sharing best practices and having 1:1 conversations with male design leaders at regional companies. With that model as a starting framework, I will create a network of WIID to help with guidance for industry leaders. This effort could be scalable in partnership with other regional district representatives.
(2) Amplifying the messages I hear from my district members and giving visibility to their work. I will activate this through public social forums, private WIID community discussions, and prepared events. This will build awareness of the women in our field and allow for WIID to build professional friendships. We will be more satisfied in our work when we have relationships with others that we relate to and are empowered by.
(3) Bringing a unique lens to the Board of Directors by being in a Women in ID leadership position at a large employer in the region.
I am passionate to bridge the gender gap and I’m ready to give my skills of mentorship, leadership, and connection-making to IDSA’s Central District.