Who We Are

Community Design Partners is more than a business; it’s a collective effort to bring our shared vision to life. Our commitment to creating something meaningful for the communities we serve drew us to each other and to our partners. We strive to create spaces where all people can experience joy, connection, and purpose. We love what we do!

We intentionally chose each word in our name to embody our journey and values.


We believe that the answers to complex problems are rooted in community.


We use mindsets and tools from human-centered continuous improvement to interrupt and redesign systems.


We see each other and those we work with as partners to learn and grow with.

Authentic Care

We practice genuine and intentional concern and support for the well-being, growth, and success of individuals and communities. We prioritize building relationships that enable everyone to acknowledge and center the whole person.


We seek to better understand peoples’ unique identities, abilities, and experiences and offer services that are responsive to their strengths and needs. We listen deeply, seek feedback, and remain flexible.


We are lifelong learners who live in a space of curiosity and risk-taking. Through humility, empathy, and self reflection we create the conditions for collective learning. We make learning accessible by bridging theory to practice and linking the new to the known.


We co-create environments that prioritize creativity, innovation, experimentation, play, and laughter. Gratitude and appreciation are regular and intentional practices throughout all of our work. And we believe work should be fun.


We create space so that stories are a catalyst that help us reflect, grow, and transform. We believe that sharing stories is a way to explore personal, historical, and organizational truths, and provide possibility in the face of incongruity.


Quality relationships are the heart of our work. We prioritize time and space to build authentic connections. By fostering strong and inclusive relationships we create environments that connect us to our shared humanity.


We believe that there is no single solution to a complex problem. We value emergence, rather than expediency or one way of being. Spaciousness ensures values and healing are centered.


We value and amplify strengths rooted in culture, relationships, language, resilience, and difference. We believe that being mindful and present with the communities most impacted by our systems we can redesign more responsive and sustaining systems.

Kari Nelsestuen

Kari Nelsestuen

Kari Nelsestuen brings creativity, leadership, and curiosity to the CDP team. As a skilled facilitator and advisor, she is motivated by “light bulb moments” when teams uncover root causes of problems on their path to co-creating meaningful solutions. Kari’s super powers include deep listening, making information accessible, and recognizing when it is time to take a break. When she’s not working, you can find her on a trail in the Pacific Northwest, digging weeds in her garden, or parenting two teenagers.

Julie Smith

Julie Smith

Julie Smith brings humor, mindfulness, and connection to the CDP team. Julie is a master facilitator who relishes disrupting conventional expectations of professional learning retreats and workshops. She supports teams as they build interpersonal relationships, elevate relevant and meaningful discussions, and drive towards an improved, more just system. Julie’s superpower is helping people believe in themselves and see what is possible when they trust the process. If she wasn’t so good at her job, Julie would be a cake decorator and mechanic to ensure her soccer mom van runs for eternity.

Daniel Ramirez

Daniel Ramirez

Daniel Ramirez brings a love of adventure, travel, and exploring big thoughts to the CDP team. Having lived in multiple regions over his life, Daniel has a deep appreciation for place and possibilities. Daniel is a big picture thinker who brings balance and thoughtfulness to the projects he supports. He is a skilled listener, facilitator, and educator who brings his engineering mind to help organizations explore and solve problems. Listening to and working with educators is one of the greatest joys of his work. His super powers include consensus building in groups, operationalizing equity, and deep listening. If he could add a super power, it would be flight.


Amplifying our impact and serving our partners well often means we are learning from and collaborating with others. CDP is humbled to be able to leverage the perspective and collective expertise of our network on a number of projects. Through these relationships we can remain adaptive in our work as we grow both personally and professionally.

Ten02 Consulting

Ten02 Consulting

Ten02 supports community-driven social justice initiatives with strategic data and research activities.

Be Gr8rr

Be Gr8rr

RaVonya Knight is an educator and coach who has dedicated her life to inspiring others to walk in their greatness. She is dedicated to empowering others to courageously challenge all notions of white supremacy within their practices.

Erin Whitlock

Erin collaborates with CDP by providing improvement coaching and facilitation expertise.


Dialogue works with organizations to improve learning and retention through collaborative experience design, interpretive planning, and professional skills and leadership development.



SmallBox is a creative agency focused on strategy, web and brand experiences for mission-driven organizations. Their people-centered approach and passion for community drive solutions that amplify the impact of your work.

Student-Powered Improvement Interns

Interns collaborate alongside us and our partners to create and lead professional learning, coach schools as they partner with students, and improve our understanding of student-powered improvement towards a more just and liberated world.

Bemnet (Beni) Berhe

Bemnet (Beni) Berhe

I am currently a freshman in college and am a political science and economics major. I was born in Ethiopia and moved to Portland Oregon when I was four years old.

Tierra Alioth

Tierra Alioth

I am a freshman in college and am currently working towards my bachelors of science. I was born and raised in Oregon. I enjoy working in chemistry labs and carrying out research projects.

CDP truly took the time to understand our organization, our nuances and approaches before diving in, while always being intentional about their positionality.

Senior Director of Programs