043: Architecture, And: Nonprofit Design Education

Episode 043: Architecture, And: Nonprofit Design Education

How are individuals using their training in architecture to explore diverse career paths?

This week, we revisit the world of social impact design and the work of a rising, mission-driven entrepreneur. Maya Bird-Murphy joins us to share her story of designing and growing her nonprofit, Chicago Mobile Makers. The organization is on a mission to make design education accessible to everybody through youth design-thinking and problem-solving workshops across the greater Chicago community.

According to the 2020 NCARB by the Numbers report, 83% of newly licensed architects were white, and 65% were male. Those who are currently not represented need support and guidance for a clearer path to careers in design. Chicago Mobile Makers seek to expand the variety of people entering the field of architecture to create more diverse workplaces, leading to more equitable decision-making and design.

After converting a former USPS van into a mobile classroom, the Mobile Makerspace allows Maya’s team to bring the design studio directly into diverse communities, inspiring and lifting the next generation of design talent.


Maya Bird-Murphy is an architectural designer, educator, and maker from Oak Park, Illinois. She is also the founder and Executive Director of Chicago Mobile Makers, an award-winning nonprofit organization bringing design-focused skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities. Maya believes that architecture should not be a privilege and must expand to accommodate more people through teaching and community engagement. She loves Chicago and hopes to make her mark by making it a more equitable place to live. In her free time, she can be found outside in nature with her two dogs.

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Featured on Dwell ‘A Delivery Van-Turned-Mobile Classroom for Kids Hits the Streets of Chicago’ by Duncan Nielsen / Photos by Tom Harris

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