Think pioneer and you may not visualize a dark-haired southern woman with a gentle voice and nerves of steel. Unless you know Ann Willoughby.
In the late 1960s when women were still expected to be quiet and behind the scenes, Ann was an emerging designer in Kansas City.
Everything was just bell bottoms and flower power, until she had her first child in 1970 and discovered it was impossible to be a working mom in a Mad Men world.
Another kind of woman would have just gone home.
Ann went home to start her own design firm, creating a new model where she, and other creatives like her, could thrive and shine.
As Willoughby Design moves into our 36th year, we’re thriving and shining brighter than ever.
So it is no surprise to us that Ann is being honored with the 2014 AIGA Medal, in recognition of her “exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication.”
We’d also like to add turning stereotypes on their heads, fighting through lows, sailing through highs and continuously demonstrating how to be a driving force in design, business and in the community. All in shoulder pads and pointy-toed heels.
The thing we admire most? Ann has created a new kind of design firm with a unique culture of creativity that values life as well as work, supports working parents, and continually encourages us to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.
Although this honor is given for a lifetime of achievement, Ann isn’t sitting back watching over her small (but mighty) design empire. No, she’s actually in a meeting, the first of several today where she’ll solve seemingly unsolvable problems with her usual flourish and passion.
We know Ann won’t see this AIGA Medal as a milestone, but rather as her cue to keep on keepin’ on. Keep on inspiring, educating, wowing, leading and mentoring the next generation of design professionals.
To review the past accomplishments of Ann and Willoughby Design as well as some of our silly, friendly, pet-loving, kid-chasing, barn-raising family moments, check out our timeline.
Read Ann’s full bio on her AIGA Medalist page.