Q&A with Jess Obayan

Meet Jess Obayan, one of the newest members of the DI team. Jess joined in February 2022 – she’s an equity design strategist and creative social worker energized by exploring how curiosity, empathy and creativity can illuminate pathways to a more just lived experience. To see where she falls on the enneagram scale, her approach to DI and what’s bringing her joy this year, keep reading.


Q: Tell us about yourself. What should people know about you that they can’t gather from your bio?

A: I am an enneagram 2, INFP with big Capricorn energy. I was born in Houston, raised in Detroit and call Baltimore home. My favorite season is March Madness.


Q: What superpowers will your role at DI tap into?

A: Despite being a geriatric millennial, I have a way of connecting with youth, even on the rare occasion that I don’t have any snacks to share. Also, I can craft an acronym for almost anything.

That said, on the topic of superpowers, I think it is worth acknowledging that I navigate a world that repeatedly denies me access to power. When I think of equity, I think of how power is distributed and celebrated. My hope is that as we work to craft more equitable lived experiences, people with historically marginalized identities will navigate the world in a way that doesn’t require us to be remarkable to be valued.


Q: What drew you to DI?  

A: The shared belief that design can combat social inequity. That and the fact that DI holds operating from a place of abundance as a core value. I thrive in spaces that embody abundance which is likely why most of my friends describe me as extra.


Q: What’s bringing you joy?

A: Spinning new vinyl records on my record player. There is something special about listening to new music on vinyl. It feels like time travel to me, or at the least it feels like creating a moment where the past collides with the present. These days I’m most often summoning the goodness of my grandma by listening to her favorite Al Green album on repeat.