Mayo Nissen

Design, etc

The New York City Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer

In early 2020, I joined New York City government as Design Lab director, to lead a human centered design team inside the Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. In addition to my role supporting the Digital Services team and other members of the Office in their work with other city agencies working on services and programs delivering value directly to New Yorkers, and piloting new technologies for public benefit, my role also involved ensuring that the office's other initiatives had the most effective platform. This included a complete rebrand of the Office, the creation of guidelines and templates for others to use, and a consistent visual style to tie our disparate portfolio together. The design lab supported every aspect of the Office's work, both by creating design work for and with our colleagues, and through weekly open "office hours" and capacity building for our Office and partners across the 300,000 person organization.

The most visible aspects of our work was the branding (including a new logo and full brand guidelines), and the launch of a new website (at and archived by the Internet Archive). Our website framed and presented the Office and it's portfolio of work, while also showcasing that it was possible to have a modern, well designed, and responsive digital presence in government that is still accessible and compliant. In addition, we designed publications representing policy and strategy positions of the City on the use of emerging technologies such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence. For the NYC[x] Innovation Awards, we designed a physical award, and of course there were countless decks, one-pagers, and social media assets, not to mention stickers and t-shirts.

the homepage of the NYC CTO website
The CTO website served to showcase that it was possible to have modern, well designed digital services in government that are accessible and compliant.

With all of our branding and communications, we attempted to strategically balance being in and of government (specifically of the largest and one of the oldest and messiest municipal bureaucracies in the country), but also representing what New York City government could be if it were more innovative and technologically savvy. Meanwhile, our audiences included City Hall, other city agencies, and a wide range of external groups, each with very different expectations and perspectives on our existence and work.

the homepage of the NYC CTO website
The Office published a range of publications, including the New York City AI Strategy and companion Primer, shown here; the New York City Internet of Things Strategy and companion implementation update; the New York City Internet Master Plan and update; and annual impact reports.
the homepage of the NYC CTO website
A spread from the AI Strategy, addressing the need for data cleaning and the risks of using proxies. Seen on the right are redlining maps of New York City from the 1930s.


This work was conducted in 2020/21 while design lab director at the New York City Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Key collaborators on the branding, publication design, and website design and development included Elyse Voegeli, Rapi Castillo, Justin Isaf Man, Irisa Ona, and the leadership of John Paul Farmer and Saron Yitbarek.