I'm a design leader who cares about increasing access to information, benefits, connection and opportunity.
I have 14 years of experience working with startups, design studios, non-profits, government agencies, educational institutions, international organizations. I was fortunate to amplify my design practice and network through MICA’s BFA in Graphic Design and SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design.
I’m currently with Nava PBC, where I lead teams to build and launch products for people who experience public benefits in partnership with government agencies, such as:
- 🌲 State of California’s Employment Development Department
- 🍁 State of Vermont’s Agency of Human Services
- 🏥 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- 🦅 Department of Veterans Affairs
Before this, I was with 18F, a design and technology team within the federal government, where I was:
- Lead designer/researcher on login.gov for more than 2 years
- Research lead for diversity, equity and inclusion work
- A researcher for a redesigned public benefit program application
- A researcher for Federalist, a publishing platform for government sites.
How I work, why I work, and questions that guide how I amplify wellness in teams while honoring my commitments.
Take care of (all) people
I believe people who are happy, well, and work at a sustainable pace create a great workplace, team and thoughtful, human-centered products. To enable this, I put people first. I practice deep listening and build authentic relationships, cultivate inclusive team cultures and coach others from across the organization.
Transform complexity to simplicity with rigor and joyful collaboration
It brings me great joy and satisfaction to dive into and understand the complexity of a system, and to bring simplicity and clarity to chaos. I’ve chosen to work on complex subject areas without pre-defined roadmaps — I believe optimistic, responsive, compassionate teams bring clarity to the previously unknown. I’ve had the privilege to work on teams around surveillance culture and privacy rights, authentication and identity verification products for all U.S. government agencies, improving critical government services so they work for the most vulnerable populations, supporting rural communities to receive social benefits. I thrive in environments where we, as a team, work through complex and diverse user needs, policy and business requirements.
Build trust through open communication
I work in transparent and vulnerable ways. This includes speaking honestly about what I know, what I don’t know, what’s working and what isn’t, and encouraging others to as well. When we don’t speak about a challenge, the risk of not addressing it is even higher. I’m continually learning about different ways to disagree (as an asset), how conflict inspires better questions and listening, and most importantly — going forward together. I’m experienced in guiding colleagues to adopt and strengthen distributed-first practices.
Fill the gaps
As an interdisciplinary contributor, my day to day work often moves beyond the label of “design”. My roles includes advancing strategic planning, building design and research activities, mentorship of early career designers, coaching for seasoned ones, providing thorough feedback for team members to grow and advance through a company, reflective writing on design and leadership, and encouraging others by orchestrating practical optimism. I care about what needs attention and where others need help, and find the most appropriate way to offer myself towards alignment.
Be inspired by others
Who helps me grow and expand my edge points:
- How to develop trust and listen to people’s core needs with Esther Perel
- Learning how to be accountable with Mia Mingus
- Conflict as a gift with Kazu Haga
- Clarifying my leadership perspectives and skills with Brené Brown, Adam Grant, Camille Fournier, Lara Hogan, Itay Talgam
- Cultivating my inner life with the imagination and poetry of Pico Iyer, David Whyte, John O'Donohue, and the On Being podcast
- Finding the ground beneath my feet with Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village
I’d love to chat at meghana.khandekar [at] gmail.com.
My name is pronounced megh-na, meaning “of the clouds” in Hindi.