Hello. Next Leap is
Dawn Ressel

What I Do

I work with mission-driven organizations to amplify the work you are already doing. I do this by:

  • Bringing empathy and insights to help you better understand who you are serving and what matters to them
  • Helping you apply those insights to create better experiences for all constituents
  • Helping you test out new ideas while minimizing risk and maximizing return
  • Facilitating the creative process to help accomplish your organization's goals
  • Helping you measure your impact and tell a compelling story
  • Teaching organizations how to sustain innovation

I bring proven techniques of Silicon Valley innovators to organizations who are making the world better. Those techniques are: design thinking, user research, and lean start-up methods. My clients are organizations whose mission aligns with my values and passion: non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and mission-driven companies. Because I'm as excited as you are about what you do, I bring my best self to the party.

Design Thinking

I help solve complex problems and find desirable solutions. I facilitate your teams in using innovative methods that are action-oriented. Together we create a preferred future.

Research and Insights

I use qualitative and quantitative techniques to help you understand your constituents better than you ever have. I can help you discover what they really think or do, who they are and what matters to them.

Testing and Validation

Every problem has a multitude of solutions, some better than others. But how do you choose? I help you apply lean start-up techniques to quickly test ideas and validate hypotheses while minimizing risk.

Facilitation and Workshops

I can help your organization solve its toughest problems by harnessing the power of your own people. I can facilitate the process to get the best outcomes and teach your organization how to sustain innovation.


Dawn Ressel

CEO and Founder

I am a design and strategy consultant who helps organizations better understand the people they serve and how to create more meaningful experiences for them. I have 15+ years experience in applying my expertise in corporate, non-profit, and higher education.

Prior to founding Next Leap, I was a Design Strategist and Experience Design Leader at Intuit for 8 years. Working there taught me how to be a better collaborator and strategic thinker. I am extensively trained in Intuit’s “Innovation Catalyst” program, which The Harvard Business Review accurately depicted as the secret to Intuit’s growth and success.

I started Next Leap to follow my personal passion, which is applying design skills to make the world a better place. I think the best way to accomplish that is by working with organizations whose missions I truly believe in and help them amplify their impact. I am passionate about a variety of causes which generally fall into the categories of social justice, civil rights, environmental, poverty alleviation, and animal rights. I am an activist and regular volunteer with a number of organizations. I am currently on the Board of the San Diego Ambassadors of The Trevor Project, and I am a former board member of Home and Hope.

I have a determined entrepreneurial spirit, and I love working on new initiatives. If you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, but you don’t know how to get there, or you don’t know how to tell if it’s working, I can help you!

  View my resume and bio

Design Thinker

I help you look at problems and see new possibilities. I help you test many ideas quickly to see what will work best. I don't have all the answers, but I have the methods to get them.

Facilitator and Coach

I help you infuse design thinking and innovation into your organization to get better results. I am an experienced speaker, facilitator and trainer.

Experience Designer

I help you create end-to-end experiences that delight the people you serve, whether it's customers, donors, clients, or volunteers.

Innovation Leader

I am extensively trained in Intuit’s “Innovation Catalyst” program, which The Harvard Business Review accurately depicted as the secret to Intuit’s growth and success.

User Researcher

I help you understand the people you serve better than you ever have. I uncover their unmet needs and motivations and unspoken using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods.


Your constituents want a compelling story about your impact: donors, investors, employees, etc. I combine my training in storytelling with my skills in synthesis to tell your best story.

My Work

Like my work?


This is what people who have worked with me are saying.


Dawn proved to me that a great designer can also be a great leader. As a skilled designer she nurtured and trained her staff in the most innovative research and design methods. She was the embodiment of our mission-driven culture at Intuit. Her positive ethical values inspired all of us to give more to our community, and to leave the world a better place.

Chris GielowExperience Design Leader, Intuit

Dawn is an outstanding facilitator. She designed and lead workshops for The Trevor Project. She lead a diverse group (including Sr. staff, Board members, and junior staff) through a process that resulted in new learnings and a series of pilots for us to test. Without Dawn's guidance, I would not have been able to make so much progress. She is very insightful, personable and helpful.

Steve MendelsohnDeputy Exec. Dir., The Trevor Project

Dawn is a design leader. I observed her in action building bridges across the company to lead a cross-disciplinary effort with professional ease. Dawn brings her expertise to the table every day, deftly avoiding acting like a "know it all" (even though she does), and leading teams to find common ground, work together, balance tradeoffs and focus forward toward the future.

Eric KnudtsonDesign Technologist, Intuit

Dawn can do it all. First, she has a knack for focusing on the most important problems and solving them elegantly. She's a tireless advocate for good customer experience. Second, she has a great head for business. Third, her calm, thoughtful, professional and collaborative style makes her the kind of person you always want on your team. Dawn is an All Star.

Lisa RogersDirector of Product and UX, Glooko

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Contact Me

I'd love to hear from you about how we might work together.

(858) 432-3033