John Cary is a connector, writer, speaker, and curator focused on social change, with an emphasis on design for the public good. By day, he is the executive director of the up-and-coming Autodesk Impact Design Foundation, a new philanthropic venture of Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software and services. In 2012, John and partner Courtney E. Martin served as the first guest curators in residence at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco, for an exhibition on design and storytelling–titled “Public Interest Design: Products, Places, & Processes“–which opened in October 2012 to a crowd of 480 people, and will be on display and travel over the next five years, as it already was at the TED2013 conference in Long Beach, Calif.
John is also a strategic advisor to the new $1,000,000 TED Prize and co-lead of The City 2.0, the 2012 TED Prize focused on the future of cities–both of which were relaunched in June 2012 during the annual TED Global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is also an advisor to Aspen Global Health & Development and a global advisory board member of Nyaya Health in Nepal.
John’s first book, The Power of Pro Bono, was published in 2010. He is also the editor of PublicInterestDesign.org and his writing has appeared in an array of publications as diverse as The New York Times, CNN.com, The Christian Science Monitor, and Fast Company.
In addition to his writing, John speaks widely on architecture, design, public service, and social justice, frequently lecturing at universities and professional conferences around the world. In January 2013, he was invited to accompany The Aspen Institute‘s Global Leadership Council on Reproductive Health on a delegation visit to Malawi, and to address President Joyce Banda, members of her cabinet, and international aid organization leaders on the power of design. In 2012, John spoke at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the theme of which was “Designing for Impact.” Also in 2012, John served as the commencement speaker for the University of Minnesota College of Design. In 2011, John served as the commencement speaker for the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. On May 10 of this year, John gave the commencement address for the University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning.
Among other honors, in 2006, at age 29, John became the youngest person ever recognized as a senior fellow of the Design Futures Council, alongside the likes of Nobel Laureates Vice President Al Gore and Energy Sec. Steven Chu. In 2007, John was among the inaugural class of fellow of the Aspen Institute‘s Ideas Festival. In 2008, he held the Rome Prize in design at the American Academy in Rome. The following year, he was honored as co-recipient of the 2009 Designer of the Year Award from Contract Magazine. John was also a resident of the Rockefeller Foundation‘s Bellagio Center in 2009. In 2010, John was recognized as a BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt Young Global Leader, a program of the BMW Foundation in Berlin. In 2012, John became a resident of the Santa Fe Art Institute and a Boehm Media Fellow of the Opportunity Collaboration “un-conference.” Also in 2012, John was recognized by Surface Magazine among its “Portfolio of American Influence,” aka Top 20 Tastemakers of 2013. Finally, in 2013, John was given the Social/Economic/Environmental Design (SEED) Award for Excellence in Leadership, and named among the “GOOD 100” by GOOD Magazine for his philanthropic work.
Previously, John was a research fellow, focused on the public interest design field, within the University of Minnesota College of Design as well as founding chair of the first annual Public Interest Design Week in March 2013. John also advised and consulted with a wide range of nonprofit design, urban advocacy, and philanthropic organizations as well as corporations, building on seven years of experience as executive director of Public Architecture and brief leadership of Next American City (now Next City).
A native of Milwaukee, Wis., John lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with his partner and wife–author and speaker Courtney E. Martin, and their cat, Kima. John is an avid runner, having completed the Rome, DC, Chicago, New York, and Twin Cities Marathons.