As a member of the Communications Team, Kylie Walker plays a significant role in our mission to support immigrant communities and survivors of gender-based violence. At Tahirih, not only do we capture meaningful narratives through written stories and by word of mouth, but it is also critical for us to use the visual language of voice, tone, and imagery to uplift the people we support. As Tahirih’s Graphic Designer, Kylie oversees and facilitates the development of visual communications for Tahirih’s key marketing efforts, fundraising campaigns, signature events, and program efforts ensuring that our staff has what they need to execute their roles as storytellers, fundraisers, and advocates.
Growing up in Rutland, Vermont, Kylie found her passion for creativity and love for design as she spent most of her childhood illustrating picture books, building e-zine websites for girls, and designing fake Vogue covers. Eventually, she found herself in the school yearbook club—seemingly a rite of passage for many future designers—where she experimented with layout, composition, image, and color. However, her dream of becoming a graphic designer wasn’t linear.
My first job interning in a bankruptcy law office taught me to run for the hills when faced with student debt, and the college I could afford didn’t offer such a program. But creating art with purpose demands a strong understanding of the communities and societies you design within, so I pursued Political Science.
While in college, Kylie researched revolutionary design and the art of propaganda—a form of communication deeply intertwined with graphic design. She got involved with feminist organizations, including the Dismantling Rape conferences and marches. She studied abroad in Russia, where she had the opportunity to study Russian language, art history, and contemporary politics while teaching English.
Writing about the experiences of Soviet immigrants in the U.S. and seeing an exhibition centering the voices of refugees in Vermont led me to the immigrant justice movement.
Continuing her interest in advocacy, Kylie served as the Community Outreach & Development AmeriCorps*VISTA at the Multilingual & Multicultural Center of Portland Public Schools in Maine, where she supported multilingual students and families through design, communications, fundraising, and volunteer outreach. Kylie volunteered as an academic coach for immigrant high school students and as a volunteer coordinator for the D.C. Rally for Refugees. Even today, she continues to volunteer as a graphic designer for organizations like the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness and engage in movements for racial, economic, and environmental justice and police and prison abolition. Her active engagement within the community led her to Tahirih.
I knew I wanted to continue my work in the movement for immigrant justice, and Tahirih’s mission to support immigrant survivors of gender-based violence immediately drew me in.
As Tahirih’s Graphic Designer, Kylie’s day consists of creating designs across print and digital applications, crafting webpages, email communications, social media elements, toolkits and handbooks, infographics, reports and publications, store products, collateral, promotional materials, and presentations.
I seek to ensure that our design processes are accessible, equitable, and collaborative, with an eye into how design can help dismantle the matrix of domination, including White supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, policing and incarceration, and settler colonialism, and propagate narratives that drive us towards collective liberation.
At Tahirih, Kylie also serves on the GRACE (Gender, Race, Anti-Oppression, Cultural Humility, Equity) Taskforce, which aims to promote awareness and sensitivity to disparities across gender, racial and cultural lines, and combat systemic oppression.
My experience on the GRACE Taskforce has been incredibly rewarding, as it informs and shapes my work as a designer to ensure that Tahirih communicates in a way that fights against racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, transphobia, and all other forms of oppression, and that it recognizes expressions of violence against those who are queer, trans, gender non-conforming, Black, brown, indigenous, people of color, and immigrants as including state and institutional violence.
However, Kylie is sometimes faced with the reality of the institutional boundaries which comes with its own set of challenges.
Creating art with a purpose—to center the voices of survivors and transform our systems—is invigorating and rewarding. At the same time, shifting public narratives around immigration and gender-based violence is challenging work. Moving beyond the feeling of defeat when laws and policies that harm survivors and further entrench state violence come down seemingly on a daily basis is not an easy task.
Above it all, Kylie is aware that these setbacks are temporary as she is confident in Tahirih’s vision of a world where immigrant and survivor communities live free from violence.
I believe in Tahirih’s work not only to support individual survivors of gender-based violence in their journeys to seek safety and justice, but also to transform the structures that perpetuate oppression and drive our society toward eradicating violence. It is a long road, but one that must be walked by centering survivors who are faced with intersecting forms of oppression and by addressing the needs of survivors through holistic, trauma-informed approaches.