Inside Change with Deana Jirak
Why did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
I love making experiences easier and more efficient. I’m most interested in leveraging that skillset to help others. The UX Director role at Change.org has all of those ingredients and I am honored to be amongst such an inspirational group of people. I feel especially fortunate to support such an amazing team of designers.
I started down the design path with a childhood passion for photography and layout. I went to school for design and started my career in visual design. Since then, I switched to UX and got to work on amazing projects across macys.com, CBRE, Amazon, and volunteering. Since then, I’ve enjoyed expanding my impact through managing visual design, UX design, and user research.
What has surprised you most about working at Change.org so far?
I’m in culture shock in the best way possible! Everyone is so, genuinely, kind. I felt at home right away, even onboarding remotely. And I am slowly adjusting to how much Slack is part of the culture.
You’re currently building out the Product Design team – what are you looking for in candidates?
I am looking for exceptional UX generalists with a passion for inclusion and changing the world. They will blow our minds with their skillsets, and build on the incredible team already in place as culture adds. The strongest candidates are great at creating simple and delightful solutions and strategies fueled by their own user research, all while being strong communicators and collaborators on a cross-functional team.
Does your identity inform your work? If so, how?
Yes, my identity is the gaze through which I experience life and informs everything. Ultimately, my identity as a proud daughter is the one that most informs my work. My mother passed down her passion for cultures and inclusion, inspired by her service in the Peace Corps in Venezuela and her heritage as an Ashkenazi Jew. My father leveraged his passion, adventure, in a program he founded to help bring unity during the Pittsburgh race riots through collaboration and empathy. Their legacies inspire me to bring my skillsets to the table to help and celebrate others while making the world a better place for everyone.
If you could go back five years, what advice would you give yourself?
The same advice I would give myself in 2020: Keep going. Things might be rough but continue making the most of every moment and that Plan B is going to exceed your wildest expectations.
What are the ways you try to show up as an ally in the workplace?
I see being an ally as a verb instead of a title, that I must actively practice whenever I can, and something that I am committed to doing the hard work to get better at. Some of the most important things I focus on include building an environment where everyone can feel encouraged to bring their whole self to work, elevating others’ voices, centering other people’s perspectives, and speaking out immediately when needed. One of the most important things I can do in my particular role is be a champion for all our users globally, no matter their identity, by pushing to make our experiences more inclusive. That is the work I’m most excited about at Change.org in the coming year.