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Collaborative Design and Co-Creation for Health Equity

In partnership with Eidos LGBTQ+ Health Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania

What happens when you give designers, entrepreneurs, students, nurses, and healthcare professionals space to learn and co-create together for a week? This is what the Eidos Summer Institute set out to answer.

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2023 cohort for the Eidos Summer Innovation Institute. Photo credit: Christopher Smith, Penn Nursing

group of people listens to a presentation

Each of the morning sessions included interactive presentations, panel conversations, and open Q&A with the audience. Photo credit: Christopher Smith, Penn Nursing

The Eidos Summer Institute

A few of us from Hopelab had a chance to join forces with the Eidos LGBTQ+ Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania during Pride month to explore ways to bring an equity-centered approach to design and think of ways to create tools for, and with, LGBTQ+ people.

Together, with teams from Movement Genius, TRACE, Cancer Support Communities, You:Flourish, DiscovHER Health, Plume, LGBTQ Healthcare Directory, and ProChange Behavior Solutions, we explored the equity-centered design thinking process, collaboratively. We left the five-day Summer Innovation Institute with new connections and insights into ways we might support the health and well-being of our LGBTQ+ communities.

Reflections from the Hopelab Team

Lionel Ramazzini, Creative Lead

three people work on a project at a table with a computer open

Lionel working with Fred and Alyson Stoner of Movement Genius. Photo credit: Christopher Smith, Penn Nursing

I don’t consider myself an expert on health equity or equity for that matter. However, I think a lot about health equity. From daydreaming about a future where folks of all backgrounds and intersections have access to high-quality health services to how we may want to talk to different groups of people at Hopelab. At the Eidos Summer Institute, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside experts in the design research and health equity space, trading notes on what works, how organizations can think about equity, and learning some lessons along the way.

Here are some nuggets I took with me

(1) There’s power in designing with your community, and there’s a mega power of letting a community design.

(2) It takes everybody. Grounding your organization in why health equity is important helps everyone work towards the same goal.

(3) Always try to pay and give credit to the communities you’re working with.

Fred Dillon, Head of Advisory Services

Fred Dillon in front of Penn Nursing Step and Repeat

Fred Dillon at the Eidos Summer Institute. Photo credit: Marley Molkentin, Eidos

It was such a delight getting to work with a diverse set of organizations that share the goal of improving LGBTQ+ health.  We spent a lot of time together thinking about their audiences’ needs, refining the value proposition of the solutions they are developing based on their insights and preferences. We leveraged many of the tools of Strategyzer and provided teams with a robust set of tools they can use in their future work. Teams returned home ready to test the assumptions and hypotheses they crafted during the week with the goal of creating a better product-market fit while providing something of great value to their users.


Josh Lavra, Creative Lead

Josh, working with Aydian and Taylor from TRACE. Photo credit: Jessica Halem, Eidos

Queerness and innovation go hand in hand.

To be queer in a world designed for a certain type of conformity requires exactly what people might say innovation requires: questioning, experimenting, community building, and persistence. Ocean Vuong, says it much more poetically:

“…when I look at my life, I saw that queerness demanded an alternative innovation from me. I had to make alternative routes; it made me curious; it made me ask, ‘Is this enough for me?”

Finding Space for ‘Enough’

It was such a gift to be in a space full of people who are helping others find their ‘enough.’ From using movement to support our health (Movement Genius) to helping trans people feel affirmed in their transition (TRACE), to ensuring compassionate care for sexual health (DiscovHER health), each group brought a unique perspective and a desire to support LGBTQ+ people through more equitable health practices and tools.

five people pose for a photo at the eidos summer institute

Dr. Jose Bauermeister and Dr. Seul Ki Choi from Eidos LGBTQ+ Initiative at UPenn, Lionel, Josh, and Fred from Hopelab. Photo credit: Fred Dillon

Interested in this topic, or joining next year’s session at Eidos?

Drop us a line at, or read more here.


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