Emily Ianacone

Human-centered designer Emily Ianacone is supporting the Allegheny County Department of Human Services as they involve youth and families in designing early intervention systems to offer preventive services to those identified as high-risk by the county's predictive analytics data models. She joins Foster America following a year of service as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow and brings corporate advertising and marketing expertise.



  • Prevention

Skill sets:

  • Human-centered design
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Graphic design and data visualization

Host Agency:

  • Allegheny County DHS

Emily comes to Foster America after spending a year as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow (PIF) in Washington, D.C. She believes in designing with and not for when it comes to creating products, services, and policies. As a PIF, she used human-centered design to lead an effort in mapping the foster youth experience with the Administration for Children Youth and Families and helped design worker.gov, a beta website for vulnerable workers to learn about and exercise their rights with the Department of Labor, the National Labor Review Board and the Department of Justice.

While earning a Master of Arts in Social Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), a program that uses human-centered design and systems thinking to frame and improve complex social issues, Emily focused her thesis work on the long-term impact of childhood trauma and chronic stress related to the social determinants of health. Emily also served as a design researcher at the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, an organization that works to reduce preventable patient harm within Johns Hopkins Hospital. She previously spent a decade in advertising and brand communications after receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Rochester Institute of Design (RIT). Emily later returned to RIT as an adjunct professor and taught a number of courses, including Public and Social Service Design. An avid music lover, she also served on the Girls Rock! Rochester board of directors for three years and has volunteered as a band art instructor each summer since it started in 2012.

Emily is thrilled to join Allegheny County's Department of Human Services, where she will use her human-centered and visual design skills to increase preventive support throughout the system, working closely with youth and families in the creation and implementation of programs to enhance the client experience. Emily is endlessly curious about other people, their feelings, and what drives their behavior, and is dedicated to achieving health equity through systemic reform.