Conrado's research focuses on using design to address social and humanitarian concerns. Working primarily in Nepal, she has worked with fair trade artisans to design and develop product lines more in line with contemporary lifestyles. Her interventions have significantly impacted artisan communities struggling to compete in the global marketplace, resulting in increased demand and sales for traditional handicraft communities. At Notre Dame she brings that ethos to the classroom, engaging students in social design projects and bringing students to Nepal to work on various research projects including a $3 washing machine, a rapid deploy emergency shelter and a self-sterilizing umbilical cord cutter. She is the founder of Hope Initiative, an international nonprofit working in Nepal to utilize design thinking to address humanitarian concerns in developing countries. For her efforts in the classroom, she was recently awarded the inaugural Young Educator of the Year Award by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) for her significant contributions to educating the next generation of designers in realizing the potential of design to advance the common good.
Conrado holds a BFA in Industrial Design from Notre Dame, class of 1993, and a graduate degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Before returning to academia, Conrado was an award-winning designer, receiving among them the industry’s highest honor, the IDSA/Business Week GOLD Industrial Design Excellence Award. In addition to teaching, she currently consults with a broad range of clients including Panasonic, Namco-Bandai, Starbucks and McDonalds.