five people holding hands

Social Impact Studio

WestEast Design's Social Impact Studio (SIS) is spearheaded by a licensed master's degree social worker, dedicated to undertaking comprehensive projects in the realm of human service initiatives. Our work includes but is not limited to homeless facilities encompassing emergency shelters, supportive housing options, and transformational campuses. Our commitment to excellence and social welfare drives us to employ a multidimensional approach that addresses diverse societal challenges.

The SIS takes pride in its research-driven designs, particularly in the domain of trauma-informed design (TID). We delve into contemporary literature on TID and actively involve existing consumers of affordable housing in our investigations. We assimilate the valuable consumer perspective through focus group sessions, ensuring that the design and function of these communities resonate with the needs and preferences of their inhabitants.

At the heart of our endeavors lies an ambition to serve as a catalyst in addressing social crises and cultivating thriving communities. By applying our meticulously honed methodologies and leveraging our team's expertise, we aim to effectuate positive change on a significant scale.

The SIS firmly believes that fostering healthy and supportive environments can contribute substantially to the betterment of society as a whole. With an unwavering commitment to social impact, we persistently strive to improve the lives of those we serve and shape a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Our Values


We understand the impact of trauma on the human experience and this understanding permeates every phase of our process

Person Centered

We value the worth and dignity of all people


We understand that each person is unique and should be supported in making their own decisions regarding what recovery means for them


We understand the complexities of social issues and the need for multi-sector and multi-system approaches to analyzing and solving them


We incorporate peer-reviewed research into each phase of our process, allowing us to continuously learn and improve

a social worker chats with a crowd

Our Expertise

Program Development & Implementation

  • Community Engagement
  • Evidence-Based Practices
  • Cross-Sector Engagement/Interventions
  • Affordable Housing Supportive Services


  • HUD CoC
  • Community Development
  • Housing/Homeless Policy
  • Homeless Systems of Care
  • Strategic Planning
  • Organizational Development

Research & Program Evaluation

  • Post Occupancy Evaluation
  • Regulatory Compliance & Monitoring
  • Human Services System Evaluations
  • Organizational & Program Assessments


  • Trauma-Informed Design

Our Team

Scott Ackerson, LMSW


Scott Ackerson, LMSW, has served on the local CoC Board and is Chair of the CoC Membership Committee, helping to organize all the partner organizations for the CoC. He was also responsible for the creation and coordination of the wraparound services, partner relations, and program development at the Haven for Hope Campus, including behavioral health and workforce development.

Katherine Dillard Gonzalez, PhD

Director of Research

Dr. Katherine Dillard Gonzalez has worked with government agencies and non-profit organizations in many states nationwide over the last 18 years. Her research and practice are focused on the intersection of homelessness, behavioral health, housing, and community development. This work is accomplished by integrating systems thinking and an organizational development approach to inform re-designing structures for social services.

James Andrews, FRIBA

Vice President

James Andrews, FRIBA, AIA INT'L ASSOC, LEED AP, has over thirty years of Urban Design and Architectural experience. His background includes designing nationally recognized facilities for those experiencing homelessness and suffering trauma. A strategic thinker and consensus builder who understands the myriad of challenges facing communities and stakeholders. He focuses on human centered solutions that strive to bring consensus and are specific to local needs.

Gabriela Esquivel, MA


Gabriela Esquivel conducts research for WestEast’s Social Impact Studio. She is skilled at synthesizing complex topics and identifying key themes in qualitative data. Her research experience covers a variety of topics ranging from auditory and vestibular disorders to art history and urban studies.

Philomena Reinmüller


Philomena Reinmüller has practiced architecture internationally across all phases of small to medium-sized residential construction projects, as well as in innovation management, industrialized construction, and property technology with a sustainability focus. Approaching sustainable building design through a human-oriented lens, she specializes in the evaluation of needs and preferences of occupants from an experiential perspective, pre- and post-occupancy, as well as in the design and development of built environments that support occupant’s social, mental, and physical well-being and planetary health.

Brian Sowell, RA, NCaRB

Project Architect

Brian Sowell has national experience designing and managing projects across a broad range of typologies including churches, offices, retail, community centers, and housing. Brian is adept at campus master planning and concept design, as well as an expert in building science and the technical requirements of construction documents. His experience working with churches and large organizations has provided the opportunity to work within a variety of project delivery methods, and led to expertise communicating project process to his clients.