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Hi

 

I'm Kat. I design experiences and products.

 

I have been practicing design thinking for 15 years in diverse roles that all champion the end user. In every one of my major professional roles (graphic designer, art director, non-profit program director, experiential-learning facilitator), I have employed human-centered design thinking to help create solutions to problems, while incorporating the input of those that I served. 

My career started out in graphic design and art direction. But I wanted to feel like I was making a bigger impact in the world. So I spent some time designing and facilitating IRL experiences for non-profit organizations that prioritize education, social justice, art, marginalized youth, personal development, and service to community. While I was in service to the world, the iPhone was invented. And a little while later, I came back to design full-time, with a passion to combine my expertise as a designer with my passion for helping people get their needs met. UX (User Experience) Design is my vehicle for doing both of those things every day. 

My design philosophy is driven by curiosity and empathy. I am most inspired to create solutions when I can learn deeply about the problem and the people affected by it.

I spent the last couple years as a designer at Pandora and I'm currently a Senior Product Designer at Slack, helping people get work done in more pleasant and productive ways. I also founded and run Bay Area Black Designers, so I can help other Black designers grow their skills while having access to a supportive community.

In my remaining free time, I'm trying to help the world have more authentic conversations in my role as the founder and facilitator of Better Than Small Talk. Yeah, I like to do a lot of different things. 

I have a passion for learning about a wide variety of subjects and over the years, have taken up study in everything from behavioral economics and psychology, to horticulture, Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican history, and other fun stuff. It's important for designers to be able to synthesize information from a variety of sources, so I believe that I'm a better designer if I can access and reflect on a wide variety of metaphors and experiences. Plus, life is more fun when you learn and do lots of different things. 


Find me on the interwebs at:

Twitter: @katvellos
Instagram: @velloseraptor
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/katvellos
Email: Contact form

nice things people say about me

"Kat is one of the best UX people I have ever had the privilege of working with. Not only she is bright, talented and capable, she also has the nicest personality. She can take complex workflows and simplify them, resulting in a big improvement in user experience. During UI/UX reviews, she offered very constructive feedback and consistently delivered high-quality and timely work. She is very energetic, enthusiastic about her work and loves to collaborate and help the team in any way she can. She is a great asset and it was a pleasure working with her. Highly recommended!"
— Rishu Arora, Portfolio Product Manager, Pandora

 

"Kat is creative, organized, personable and intelligent. She is a skilled communicator with a fantastic personality and sense of humor. Also, she has an amazing ability to really dig into complex user flows and resolve them in a clear, easy-to-understand experience. Kat knows the value of user research and getting inside the heads of her users. She is totally dependable, driven, hard-working, and has a passion for delivering great design. Most importantly, she's really fun to work with!"
— Brittany Miller, Software Engineer, UniversityNow

 

"Kat is a smart designer with fantastic user research skills and was a strong positive force on the Viv design team. She brought an unmatched energy to our design team and her aesthetic sense shined in the numerous prototypes she built for user testing. I was most impressed with Kat’s ability to connect with people and drill into the details—a rare skill. She is cognizant of engineering needs and kept engineers in the loop when appropriate. I highly recommend Kat to any design team and would work with her again in a heartbeat."
 — Marcello Bastea-Forte, Designer Engineer at Viv Labs (acquired by Samsung)

 

"Kat excelled at each step of the UX process: creative ideation, thorough user research, navigation, many rounds of wireframe and prototype iterations, clean visual design, and a highly professional and polished final presentation. Her community organizer background also brought a diverse skill set and helped her to intuitively grasp the value of talking to audiences to really understand their needs in order to achieve the best results." 
— Beverly May, Founder of the UX Awards, General Assembly UX instructor

"Kat has been a delight to work with at Pandora. While collaborating on UX prototypes with her on Pandora.com, she taught me so much about how a user engages with a product, and how to garner their emotional reactions to it. I highly recommend her for any design or UX research positions."
— Greg Comstock, Sr. Product Designer, Pandora

 

"Kat makes things happen through collaboration, relationship-building, and an intuitive leadership style. She is at once a go-getter and an active listener. Working with Kat is such a pleasure, as she brings terrific ideas to the table and a balance of excellent project management with keen visionary abilities."
— Annie Van Avery, Executive Director, COLAGE

 

"Having worked with Kat for a number of years, and having been friends even longer, I have witnessed her creative spirit, her drive and her immense talent. She is a fantastic manager, has a great sense of humor and always gives her all to whatever project she is working on."
— John E. Citrone, Editor

 

"Kat is creative, collaborative, detail-oriented, and dedicated to helping others. In my time as her supervisor, I was continually impressed by the quality of her work, and knew that if Kat took on a project it would be carried out with commitment, care, and inevitable success.

She is a naturally supportive colleague and knows how to bring out the best in those she works with. There is something special about Kat — a certain spark that allows her to shine brightly herself, while illuminating the good in others."
— Alan Wong, Facilitator and former Program Director at The Power of Hope

 

"Kat is a delight to work with: Committed, trustworthy, amazingly creative. And her passion for helping people through art is unparalleled. Miss this bright spot on Florida's arts landscape." 
— Anne Schindler, Executive Producer, First Coast News