Cathy Solarana’s passion for design and love of solving branding problems is infectious. When meeting with her for the first time or fiftieth, you can’t help but get excited at the possibilities of what can and should be done. That irrepressible passion was the catalyst for starting Wheelhouse Collective. Cathy believes that the creative process should be as enticing as the outcome. She understands that her first job is to listen, then co- create with her clients and team, working through their brand challenges.
With more than 27 years of experience in branding, strategy, and design, Cathy has built an impressive client roster and body of work that has been recognized on a national scale. Her vast knowledge has allowed her to lead branding workshops, including the standing room only Brand Therapy workshops at the 2015 AIGA National Design conference in New Orleans and the On Brand 2018 conference in Omaha. She has been active in the local design community since 1999, serving on the AIGA Nebraska chapter board in several positions, including as president.
More than anything, Cathy’s sense of social justice runs deep. She integrates her diversity and inclusion experience into the design thinking of Wheelhouse with a focus toward equity in our teams, process, and projects. She also served as the very first Diversity and Inclusion Director for AIGA Nebraska and continues to mentor local young designers of color.
Cathy’s talk is about using what she knows best, the design thinking process, to tackle things that are much greater than herself: race, raising a child in a divided country, making sure her daughter has opportunities, and helping to create equity in a profession that is still 93% Caucasian.