The College for Creative Studies Names Nina Bianchi Distinguished Alumna

September 27, 2022
headshot of alumna Nina Bianchi in front of a grey background

For nearly two decades, Nina Bianchi (’04, Communication Design) has put others ahead of herself in every aspect of her work; and for this, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) has granted her the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing her for her work as a social innovator and creative leader.

Since graduating from CCS, Bianchi, an accomplished Culture Executive and Solution Principal at Medallia’s Healthcare and Public Sector Practice, has used her creative vision to shepherd numerous organizations and programs aimed at social innovation, inclusive design and leveraging technology for the greater good. Her work is so distinguished, she received an invitation to serve as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow to help advance the Biden Cancer Moonshot, started by President Obama, with the mission to accelerate the rate of progress in the fight against cancer. There, she led health, data and technology change management efforts and invested tremendous energy in leadership workforce transformation at the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute in AI-enabled precision medicine and cancer clinical trials.

“You don’t have to be from the East or West Coast to solve the world’s toughest problems,” said Bianchi. “My invitation to this work was not because I was a biomedical expert or cancer researcher. My invitation came because, having come from Detroit, I knew how to make things work. I knew how to make a ‘moonshot,’ or a big, lofty dream, become a real thing. An actual moon landing.”

During the peak of the COVID-19 global public health crisis, Bianchi served as Chief of People and Culture at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in partnership with the General Services Administration’s IT Modernization Centers of Excellence, working with tech and data leadership teams to advance new ways of working, noting that digital transformation begins and ends with people. 

“We feel culture through work experiences. When people feel a sense of belonging, whether remotely or in-person, they are more likely to deliver better services and experiences. At the FDA, I brought diverse leaders together to refresh mindsets and accelerate positive change for a healthier future,” said Bianchi.

From Bianchi’s work in Detroit with organizations such as Design Core Detroit and Allied Media Projects, as well as helping support the makerspace movement across Detroit, all the way to her changemaking in Washington, D.C., Bianchi has perfectly encapsulated what it means to be a creative leader worthy of the distinguished alumni honor.

After a multi-month process of accepting and reviewing nominations, a selection committee comprised of CCS students, alumni, staff and faculty leadership agreed that the 2022 recipient would be Bianchi. This designation recognizes CCS graduates who best exemplify what it means to be a creative leader through outstanding professional or artistic achievements, exceptional leadership in their community, a dedication to service, and a commitment to the advancement of arts education.

“I know that creative leaders are our future. Design is to lead in more inclusive, equitable and participatory ways,” Bianchi finished. “When I was at CCS, I had the vision to design a different future for our nation. I knew then that creativity and people who can make things needed to be the foundation of our country.”

When asked about the impact that CCS made on her life, Bianchi said, “I’m hardwired to be a changemaker. I may make things that are pretty unexpected, like a new healthcare culture or designing new mindsets for executives, or even new frameworks for equitable algorithms. But, the truth is, I know how to make things real because of CCS and Detroit. I’m grateful that I’m a born and bred Detroiter. Everyone I meet across the world sees that a healthy future grows from the good soil in the Midwest.”

Bianchi was presented her award during the 2022 May commencement ceremony that was held at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre.