Andrea Ngan is a designer, strategist, researcher, facilitator, and media artist. Her practices nurture social and spatial justice initiatives co-led by community and youth.

For over 12 years, she’s developed youth art and social justice programs and organizations. She is the director and co-initiator of Creative Resilience Collective, Creative Resilient Youth, and Design Justice Network’s Philadelphia Node. As a founding team member of the City of Philadelphia’s Service Design Studio, Andrea is also co-leading the development of a citywide Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit to transform how the City repairs relationships and works with historically excluded and harmed communities.

In addition to her organizing and design work, she serves as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design and regularly facilitates workshops about design justice, co-design, collectivism, equitable community engagement, youth leadership, mental health, health justice, public art, and ways to build and share power for social change.

Prior to her work in Philadelphia, Andrea designed interactive experiences and produced media for cultural organizations, museums, and public spaces.

 


Core values

Liberation, healing, and collectivism are three core values that guide my work and actions. As a daughter of Chinese immigrants, these values are deeply personal, and to reference Audre Lorde, therefore political.

  • Liberation: I am guided by the first Design Justice Network principle “we use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.” When I assess what collaborators I work with, what funding I accept, and what opportunities I pursue, I ask myself whether my efforts will contribute to liberatory processes, outcomes, and possibilities.

  • Healing: As a descendant of Traditional Chinese Medicine healers, I value healing as a decolonial and restorative practice. In this context, healing is a process towards making oneself whole. It embraces a definition more akin to self knowing and homecoming over fixing or being completely free from injury and suffering. This approach acknowledges that trauma is experienced collectively and requires a holistic cultural, spiritual, civic approach to heal oneself and others. In action, I center healing by creating brave spaces for personal and collective inquiry, reflection, vulnerability, and learning.

  • Collectivism: In Chinese collectivist households, an individual's responsibility and obligation to one’s family is unquestionable. Where one’s self begins and ends is often blurred. In an American context, self-determination and sufficiency are valued over the collective whole. While often positioned as binaries, community organizing has shown me that liberation and healing require honoring every living being's autonomy alongside the ways we are interdependent. I put collective values into action through the spaces I create for diverse stakeholders to learn and grow together. These spaces encourage shared decision-making power, mutual responsibility, and shared credit throughout a collaborative process.
 


︎ ︎ ︎ ︎