Photo of Selene Diaz
Pronouns: She/Her
Community of practice: Design
City of origin: Jersey City, NJ
Tour status: Staff

Selene Diaz

Why did you join USDS?

I joined USDS to design and modernize services for historically underserved communities. As a Latina in tech, I see there’s a huge service gap. We have beautifully designed commercial apps for everything in our lives including food delivery, entertainment, and smart home devices. But when it comes to government services – applying for benefits that will help put food on the table or finding help for non-native English speakers – there’s still work left to do to make these services easy to understand and navigate.

USDS empowers people to bring different perspectives to complex challenges in order to deliver creative solutions that will help the public and make life a little less chaotic than what it already is. I find that very inspiring.

What’s your career story?

I started as a graphic designer in advertising and freelanced for a couple of years at both small agencies and larger corporate companies. In my early years, I was trying to find meaning in my work while honing my craft and experiencing different work cultures.

It wasn’t until I accidentally stumbled into user experience design, that I found my true calling. What was meant to be a short temporary contract role, turned into five years at Everyday Health, where I designed tools and content experiences for people to learn about their health. After Everyday Health, I continued to work in the healthcare industry, specifically at WW (formerly Weight Watchers), until I pivoted to EdTech at Wiley, working on educational software and learning experiences to improve student outcomes.

In the last 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries and roles which has taught me how to be nimble and tackle different challenges. At the core, my motivator has always been the people. The people I design for and the people I work with.

What’s your superpower?

Making deep connections through active listening and empathy. I enjoy getting to know strangers, sharing stories, and practicing a little vulnerability. It’s one of the reasons why I love being a user experience designer. To design, you have to start by understanding people, their complex experiences, and their unique needs in order to see their perspective which may be very different, or even conflicting from your own.

What do you love most about USDS?

The opportunity to make an impact and leave things better than how you found them! At USDS, we are all working on different challenges and projects but the mission is the same. We work towards delivering services equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved.

I have never met such a passionate group of individuals who, regardless of skill set, experience, or how busy they are, show up for one another to provide help on projects and emotionally support each other during difficult times. When the work is challenging, it helps to have a community to lean on and learn from.

What television show or movie can you watch repeatedly?

“Casino!” If I happen to catch it playing on TV, I have to finish watching it. The plot, the characters, the pace, and the music makes it hard for me to look away.

What’s your go to comfort food?

I love every kind of spicy Korean stew: budae jjigae, kimchi jjigae, you name it. There’s nothing more comforting to my senses than sizzling hot, spicy, flavorful, delicious stew.

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