Problem Solvers, First and Foremost

When you partner with a design firm, one of the greatest contributors to success are the people you work with. When you work with MSDS, here are a few of the folks with whom you'll collaborate, and hopefully share more than a few laughs.

Matthew Schwartz, Founder, Director of Strategy

For 18 years, Matt has helped clients create effective brand experiences by applying expertise in brand strategy, design and content strategy; specializing in interactive design. Matt plays a hands-on role in all the work MSDS produces, collaborating with clients and the firm’s teams to make sure business strategy is aligned with execution. A veteran of interactive since 1994, Matt got his start as a Designer with McCann Erickson’s Compelling Content and then with Young & Rubicam’s interactive group. He later served as Creative Director with interactive agencies Bottle Rocket and Online Retail Partners, before founding MSDS in 2000.

An Associate Member of the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, Matt’s work has been awarded and profiled by The Webbys, Communication Arts, The International Academy of the Visual Arts, Print Magazine and others. He holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College with a dual concentration in Writing and Visual Studies, and conducted post-graduate design studies at the School of Visual Arts and Parsons in New York City.

Ryan Reynolds, Design Director

Ryan has 12 years specializing in design strategy, user experience and content strategy; creating integrated design systems for clients concentrated in nonprofit, academic, energy and healthcare sectors. As the head of MSDS’s design team, Ryan is responsible for aligning brand strategy and design execution, collaborating with clients to develop and execute organization-wide design and content strategies. Having earned his undergraduate degree in economics, Ryan brings unusual expertise in working with complex, data-driven, technical and policy content to create simplified communications, design strategies and data visualization that speak to the interests of  lay and sophisticated audiences alike.

Ryan’s work has been widely recognized for excellence with numerous interactive and print design awards. Prior to joining MSDS, Ryan served as a Senior Designer at Korn Design in Boston. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College, and a Certificate in Graphic Design from MassArt.

Niki Hammond, Technical Strategist & Director of Project Management

Niki has 16 years of experience working at nearly every level developing enterprise-level web applications and websites, Niki partners with MSDS’s clients and our creative and technical teams to create interactive strategies, business process optimization, and change management plans—working closely with each to translate complex business goals and technical details into easy-to-understand concepts, to problem solve; and writing technical and functional specifications.

A Certified PMP (Project Management Professional), Niki is an expert at increasing efficiency, managing schedules, resources, and budgets. Over the course of her career, Niki has worked as a Web Developer and Technical Director at Online Retail Partners, UBS and Girl Scouts of the USA. She holds a BS in Information Systems from Pace University

Emily Degruchy, Senior UX Designer

Emily offers over 10 years of experience designing interactive experiences and applications, combining expertise in product design, information architecture, process design, user interface design, and product management. She is an expert at interpreting client needs and goals, and applying research and analysis to develop goal-oriented UX strategies. Emily works across MSDS’s strategy, design, and technology teams, uniting brand and user goals into effective online experiences.

Prior to working with MSDS, Emily worked as a User Interface Designer with The Wonderfactory, UX lead with Canopy Commerce and Ruckus Media Group, and as Product Manager for Appinions. Emily earned a BA with a double major in Design and Psychology from Clark University.

Beth Jacobson, Senior Web Developer

Beth brings 17 years of back-end development expertise, architecting and building website and web application infrastructure. She takes pride in designing robust interactive systems with flexible, scalable data architectures and structured, user-friendly content entry systems. Beth has deep expertise in database design and is an expert in Drupal development, leveraging more than a decade of working in PHP and MySQL to customize systems that meet the most demanding technical and functional requirements. Before coming to MSDS, Beth had a long and varied career as a contract developer, designing systems for commercial, industrial, and nonprofit sectors, spanning tools and languages from C++ and Oracle to CSS3 and HTML5.

Ross Berenson, Senior Front-End Designer/Developer

For the last 7 years, Ross has applied his dual skills as an interface designer and front-end coder to create effective, elegant user experiences. With MSDS, Ross leads the front-end development team and is instrumental in developing the studio’s custom responsive framework. Equally well-versed in the fundamentals of design and typography as he is coding, Ross combines his expertise in design and responsive front-end web development to create highly usable and engaging interactive experiences. He takes both a visual and technical approach to interactive design, integrating best practices in semantic HTML, CSS and Javascript with popular server-side platforms to create a seamless user experience on desktop and mobile platforms. He earned his degrees in Communication Arts and Graphic Design from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

Laurel Ames, Designer

Laurel is passionate about design and communication for social causes and nonprofits, reflecting her belief in utilizing design to educate and inspire change in an environment where values and needs are constantly shifting. She brings strong editorial skills to her work, uniting content and design to create mission-driven creative. With MSDS, Laurel specializes in design development across print and interactive, partnering with the creative team to develop and extend brand concepts. Prior to MSDS, Laurel worked as a designer with Designing Hope Studio working with socially-conscious organizations. She holds a BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute.  

Sheri Harrison, Senior Project Manager

Sheri has worked in the technology sector for 17 years, leading a variety of major web and application initiatives, within both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She plays a key coordinator role on MSDS projects, tracking schedules, resources and budgets, ensuring clear communication between clients and internal teams, and facilitating data-driven decision-making.

Sheri is proficient in traditional and Agile methodologies, business analysis and product management, with extensive experience managing complex projects, establishing efficient processes, and liaising between technical and non-technical stakeholders. Sheri began her technology career in the early dot-com era, but prior to working with MSDS, spent the last decade applying her skills in the nonprofit sector, bringing great client-side insights to MSDS's process from working with organizations such as the International Rescue Committee, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and GreatSchools.

Christine Walthall, Senior User Experience Designer

Christine is an expert user experience designer, working for the past 5 years helping articulating the ‘why’ behind UX design decisions to create online experiences that increase user engagement and brand value. With MSDS, Christine works closely with Clients and our Design Strategists, Designers and Developers to blend brand goals, content strategy, visual design, and technology; leading user research and analysis, usability testing, information architecture, interaction design, and prototyping. She currently also teaches a 12-week intensive course on UX Design at General Assembly. Prior to working with MSDS, Christine got her start as an interaction designer with global advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather and worked with leading interactive agency R/GA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education with a specialization in Music from the University of Texas in 2006.

Emily Bell, Content Strategist, Copywriter

Emily has 13 years of experience in nonprofit advocacy, communication, grant management, and fundraising— specializing in healthcare brands and public health issues. An expert in distilling complex, research-driven content, Emily creates content strategies and copy for MSDS’s nonprofit and academic clients.

She brings deep expertise in policy and advocacy, social media, donor and philanthropic outreach, and volunteer mobilization, with emphasis on issues of public health, women’s and girl’s issues, and financial inclusion. In addition to working with MSDS, Emily has worked with the United Nations, CARE, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other leading nonprofits. She has an undergraduate degree from Yale University, with a Masters in Public Affairs and Certificate in Health and Health Policy from Princeton.

Stephen Platz, Web Developer

Steve brings 10 years of development experience, focusing on Drupal for the last 4. At MSDS, Steve performs back-end development for client projects, specializing in custom search engine development, Drupal module development and front-end Drupal theming to translate the space between specifications, system functionality and design intent. Steve specializes in LAMP infrastructures, developing in PHP, Javascript, HTML5 and CSS. He holds a BA from the University of Washington.

Michael McKinstry, Project Manager

For the past 6 years, Michael has dedicated himself to assisting nonprofits and universities to attract and retain new donors and supporters by enhancing their outreach and interaction methods. As Project Manager with MSDS, Michael offers both programatic and technical expertise in the planning, execution and deployment of interactive initiatives, events, and campaigns. He is at the hub of MSDS engagements, acting as the lead liaison between client and MSDS teams, ensuring projects are executed within scope, on budget, and on time.

Before joining MSDS, Michael worked at the International Rescue Committee, creating a highly-successful and integrated Donor Cultivation and Stewardship program using online outreach, events, and other direct marketing methods. More recently, with New York University, Michael coordinated High Availability Infrastructure planning in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to ensure that High Performance Computing, Data Services, eResearch, and the Digital Studio had proper Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans in place. Michael graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BA in English and Spanish.

Angela Ferrante, Research & Editorial Associate & Operations

For the last 5 years, Angela has worked in the art and nonprofit worlds in a range of roles, from assisting in day-to-day operations to staff and project support in a variety of settings. Her academic and curatorial background includes experience with data entry, research, and managing digital archives. Angela also worked as a Curatorial Assistant and Digital Archives Assistant at the Brooklyn Museum. With MSDS, Angela provides account support and project operations management, and assists with competitive research and brand and communications audits. She is also the lead manager for project record-keeping oversight and management and billing reconciliation. Angela graduated from New York University with a BA in Art History.