Adobe Design expands its Product Equity team

Timothy Bardlavens joins to lead the growth of equitable products

On a bright pink background with white and orange dots are two facial silhouettes each with long hair and facing center: on the left, upside down, with lime green hair and a lavender face and one on the right with turquoise hair and dark blue face.

Illustration by Beci Orpin

If exclusion is ignorance or avoidance of our differences—our struggles, our experiences, our knowledge, our needs, our abilities—then inclusion is our acknowledgement and acceptance of them. If exclusion separates, inclusion connects by removing barriers to understanding and access.

Five years ago, Adobe Design began to explore ways to address accessibility in design. As we delved deeper, we began to think about how principles of diversity, representation, inclusion, and usability apply to Adobe’s products, and how we could build products in ways that included as many people as possible. We formed the Inclusive Design team to build a core competency of inclusive practices across Adobe Design.

Over the past year we saw an opportunity to evolve in both name and practice: We assembled a larger group dedicated to building equitable communities of practice across all Adobe product teams, one that could create reciprocal research practices and co-creative community relationships, and embed with product teams to support them through the entire product development lifecycle. Our Inclusive Design team has been renamed Product Equity to better reflect our intention to make product decisions that consider the full spectrum of gender, race, age, ethnicity, ability, culture, and all other human differences.

It’s a cross-disciplinary team, led by new director Timothy Bardlavens, with a broader scope and an amplified commitment to building more equitable products. Through research objectives and the creation of partnerships across Adobe, and in historically underinvested and marginalized communities, we envision a future focused on creating more equitable processes around all aspects of product research, design, and development.

What this new direction means for our products

With backgrounds equally split between disability studies and accessibility, and race, gender, and sexuality, the Product Equity team has a range of lived and acquired experiences to share knowledge, identify and address product inequities, and build community connections.

Our new product managers will develop coherence and consistency across the organization through exploration, planning, guidance, and measurement. They’ll work directly with Adobe product teams to further internal and external conversations around equitable product development and help create product frameworks that include a diverse range of users. Our equitable researchers will deepen the team’s commitment to gathering informed perspectives on accessibility, inclusivity, and racial and cultural representation. They’ll establish relationships with external communities and organizations to create a deeper understanding of our users and how they’re impacted by Adobe’s product decisions.

These changes are only the beginning of our journey toward delivering more equitable products and outcomes for our customers.

Meet our team

Timothy Bardlavens, Director of Product Equity

Timothy (he/him) has spent a decade building and scaling teams, and setting product vision and strategy for Zillow, Microsoft, Capital One, and Meta. While at Meta he led a team to create scalable solutions to reduce harm, abuse, and misinformation while increasing peoples’ voices and equitable outcomes across the company’s apps. He is also a member of Adobe’s Design Circle, an Adobe initiative that uses scholarship and mentorship to transform the design industry by promoting greater diversity and creating more visibility to career paths to design; and a co-founder, with Antionette Carroll, of &Design, an organization that cultivates and activates Black, Latinx, and Indigenous designers by providing tools, resources, and training to support them on their creative career journeys.

Matt May, Principal Designer, Product Equity

Matt (he/him) integrates equitable design practices across every aspect of the Adobe user experience. He also trains and mentors the Adobe Design team and advocates principles of accessibility and inclusive design to the public at large. Matt has worked in almost every product-related role at Adobe: engineer, evangelist, program manager, product manager, and designer. He will be working with teams to make sure the responsibility for equity work is shared across everyone, in every role.

Es Braziel, Head of Equitable Research, Product Equity

Es (they/them) is a qualitative researcher focused on mitigating harm from emerging technologies and creating digital spaces for people from marginalized backgrounds. They honed their craft conducting market strategy with clients including Google, Facebook, PlayStation, and Snap before becoming a senior design researcher at Microsoft, where they worked on the future of web experiences and responsible product innovation. Es utilizes their orientation toward systems-level change, design justice, and radical inclusion to alter product team methodology while building better products.

Julianna Rowsell, Senior Product Manager, Product Equity

Julianna (she/her, they/them) founded and led accessibility and inclusive design communities of practices within the Government of Canada for more than a decade with a focus on corporate governance, evaluation, and playbook development. They also served as a digital fellow with the Canada School of Public Service, where they drafted one of the first accessibility plans under the Accessible Canada Act for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Julianna has led the development of key integrated metrics to evaluate products and product teams across a wide variety of digital products and services. Their work explores the intersection of identity, disability, and Indigenous perspectives, and the dismantling of systemic and emerging barriers to access.

Mariah Driver, Senior Product Manager, Product Equity

Mariah (she/her) was formerly the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Webflow where she worked to design systems and experiences that enabled everyone to show up authentically and grow to their full potential. Through all her work, Mariah questions, reimagines, and redesigns the systems and practices that surround us to help build a better world, and ensure that all people have equitable opportunities.

Annika Muehlbradt, Experience Researcher, Product Equity

Annika (she/her) recently completed her PhD in Computer Science at University of Colorado Boulder creating technologies that enhance people’s physical, sensory, and creative abilities. Her research leverages Human-Centered Computing (HCC), accessibility, and disability studies to support equity, in(ter)dependence, and creativity for people with disabilities.

Akshita Goyal, Research Intern, Product Equity

Akshita (she/her) is an MS Candidate in Human Centered Design & Management in MIT’s Integrated Design & Management Program. She has six years of experience in human centered design research and sustainable brand strategy. Prior to MIT Akshita led a design & strategy consultancy, helping small businesses in tech, retail, and healthcare define product innovation and marketing strategies. She’s passionate about creating conscious, self-aware brands that embrace sustainability, across the spectrum of environment, inclusion, growth, and innovation, through their product lifecycle.

As the Product Equity team moves into its new phase, it does so with skilled leadership, a balanced and knowledgeable team, and a deeper investment in creating an equitable direction informed not by those with the most access, or by those who best fit our personas, but through understanding.

Help us design the future of Adobe’s products and services: Join us!

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