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NewsNov 28, 2023

Volunteers of the Month for November 2023

Written by Kaoutar Taghi, Jennifer Sutherland, Luis Vega Giron, Deanna Auger, Nicole Urquhart, and Elyssa Biringer, OneMethod
Group picture of volunteers: around 14 people

The RGD thanks the volunteers of our 2023 DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto for their contributions to the seamless execution of the event.

Tell us about your experience volunteering for the 2023 DesignThinkers Conference.

Elyssa Biringer Provisional RGD: I helped with the registration desk on the first day as well as the studio tours. I loved leading the studio tours as it allowed me to see what different Toronto agencies, both big and small, have to offer. 

Jennifer Sutherland Student RGD, Centennial College: Volunteering at DesignThinkers was a fantastic experience. Being in school full-time, sometimes it's too easy to get bogged down in learning new skills. The conference was an excellent reminder of what brought me to graphic design in the first place. The speakers, attendees and the RGD staff reminded me of everything I love about design. 

Sam Loiselle Student RGD, York University: I volunteered because I had such a great time at DesignThinkers the year before and wanted to show appreciation for the RGD by participating again. I got to attend some sessions of the conference for free, make connections and was given complimentary merch. I definitely will be volunteering again! 

Kaoutar Taghi Student RGD, Seneca Polytechnic: For me, It was a learning experience. I went into it being slightly anxious, but as soon as I met the other volunteers, I knew that it would be something great. It made me proud to be able to contribute to the industry—even the smallest tasks, like stocking the giveaway table, made me happy. I would recommend this to every design student. 

Nicole Urquhart Student RGD, Conestoga College: I greatly appreciated the sense of community that was instant as all of us volunteers dove into the work to be done.

Which of the tasks assigned to you did you enjoy the most?

Carlos Potes Provisional RGD: All of them allowed me to connect with people, improve my problem-solving skills and have a great experience thanks to spending time with the creative community. Each task was fun and unique. Everyone at the RGD pointed me in the right direction with kindness and the right information to never feel lost.

Kathy-Ann Scantlebury Provisional RGD, Flybridge Inc.: I enjoyed finding solutions to the attendees’ problems and getting to communicate with fellow designers. I really did have some interesting conversations at registration. I also got to help set up and attend a workshop that I was really looking forward to.

Jennifer Sutherland Student RGD, Centennial College: My favourite task was helping with the roundtable sessions. Hearing the conversations at the tables helped me understand the unique value of connecting with other designers and learn new skills through the structured dialogue and collaborations.

Kaoutar Taghi Student RGD, Seneca Polytechnic: Over the three days I volunteered, I was assigned various tasks. During my shifts, I found myself doing the most random tasks like cutting a stack of coloured paper in half, helping people taking pictures with Chris Do and trimming a giant question mark sticker—which was all fun and, strangely, relaxing. The tasks I enjoyed the most were the unusual ones that happened last minute.

What have you gained from being a DesignThinkers volunteer?

Carlos Potes Provisional RGD: It is the best way to keep and boost your passion for our profession. It is also an opportunity to find friends and make connections with designers across the globe. DesignThinkers creates great memories.

Kathy-Ann Scantlebury Provisional RGD, Flybridge Inc.: More design books in my bookshelf, more contacts on my LinkedIn and a ton of memories that will encourage me to be a part of DesignThinkers again next year.

Deanna Auger Student RGD, St. Lawrence College: I will be graduating this year and that can be scary at times. Volunteering and meeting so many kind students and professionals gave me the confidence that I will have support from the industry and that we all want each other to succeed. Without volunteering, I wouldn't have spoken to as many people as I did.

Sam Loiselle Student RGD, York University: Meeting so many people and getting to see the behind the scenes of the conference logistics was really valuable. It also made me appreciate all the work that goes into planning something of this scale and made me feel grateful to get the chance to attend. It really is a beautiful network of people that all have the love for design in common.

Jennifer Sutherland Student RGD, Centennial College: Volunteering was a unique way to attend the conference. I volunteered because I didn't know anyone else attending this year, so I assumed it would be a good way to feel less alone in the crowd. This turned out to be true — I met and connected with many fellow designers of diverse backgrounds and experience levels.

Michel Pennington Student RGD, Algonquin College: For me it is about meeting new people. While volunteering, you connect with and are approached by so many people, you never know who you are going to meet — a new friend, a new mentor, a new inspiration.

Nicole Urquhart Student RGD, Conestoga College: I have gained a sense of pride in the RGD community as well as the unmatched experience of being a part of something so grand.

Luis VegaI Student RGD, St. Lawrence College: I gained a friendly community of friends and designers from all over Canada. I can’t stress enough how nice and welcoming the people are and how long-lasting some of these connections can be. It really is a privilege to help behind the scenes because you get so much more out of it.

Are there any notable or surprising moments you'd like to share?

Carlos Potes Provisional RGD: To know there were so many colleagues speaking Spanish. LOVED the speech from Catalina Estrada! I haven't been to my home country, Colombia, for around 6 years. Catalina brought the magic of my home and fired up my passion as a graphic designer. It was amazing to spend time with so many designers from the Latin American community!

Jennifer Sutherland Student RGD, Centennial College: While working the registration desk, I watched fellow volunteers meet designers who were absolute 'design heroes' for them. Witnessing this was definitely a highlight.

Michel Pennington Student RGD, Algonquin College: I met James Martin. I am presently almost done reading his book and I follow him on Instagram. I enjoy his vibe and his mission. Anyways, I was handing out bags and from the corner of my eye I see someone who looked like him. I take a second and third look, it was him! I was a little star struck for a second. Then he comes my way wanting one of the bags. I tell him, “I know you!”, he say, “shall we cuddle?” And we hugged. We met a couple of more times during the conference.

Kaoutar Taghi

Originally from Morocco, Kaoutar is a graphic design student. She developed an interest in design and art in her childhood and is now passionate about learning and developing her creativity. Her background in traditional arts and design foundations has helped her further experiment and explore design concepts. Her aspiration is to create projects that convey meaningful messages and create a positive impact on people. When not designing, she loves to socialize and learn about different cultures.

Jennifer Sutherland

Jen is a second-year graphic design student at Centennial College. Before coming to Centennial, she worked in the medical not-for-profit industry, supporting associations, publishing medical journals, managing websites and helping plan conferences. Eager to expand her skill set, she is particularly interested in delving into motion graphics, information design and designing for multilingual applications with a focus on accessibility and inclusivity.

Elyssa Biringer


Graphic designer bringing creativity and a dash of fun to every project. Her passions lie in motion, web design and development, all while prioritizing accessibility as a fundamental design principle.

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