Cheryl D. Miller is a designer, author, and theologian best known for her diversity, equity, and inclusion advocacy for Black graphic designers. An accomplished, award-winning designer and businesswoman, she established one of the first Black-women-owned design firms in New York City in 1984. Cheryl D. Miller Design Inc. provided corporate communications services to Fortune 500 clientele, including BET, Chase, American Express, Time, and Sports Illustrated, as well as social impact corporate communications defining the civil rights era. For half a century, Miller has tirelessly created lasting relationships, mentorships, and communities while consistently amplifying the voices of the designers she has worked alongside.
Miller holds an MS in Communications Design from Pratt Institute and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with Foundation Studies completed at the Rhode Island School of Design. She also holds a Master of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Her groundbreaking graduate thesis Transcending the Problems of Black Graphic Designers to Success in the Marketplace led to the 1987 Print article “Black Designers Missing in Action,” followed by “Embracing Cultural Diversity in Design” in Step-by-Step in 1990 and “Black Designers: Still Missing in Action?” in Print in 2016. In the light of current trends, her 2020 Print article “Black Designers: Forward In Action (Parts I-IV)” shows just how little has changed in the years since her thesis. Miller also wrote a memoir, Black Coral: A Daughter’s Apology to her Asian Island Mother, published in 2013.
Her personal work and archives were acquired by Stanford University Libraries to create the Cheryl D. Miller Collection at Stanford University. She is further curating The History of Black Graphic Design in North America, an open-source database, along with Stanford Libraries and design colleagues.
Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University’s College of Art & Design, where she teaches graphic design. In 2020 and 2021, she has held positions as Designer in Residence and Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin School of Design and Creative Technologies and as Distinguished Scholar in Virtual Residence at Roger Williams University.
Honorary doctorates are awarded to individuals who have consistently represented the bold vision and socially transformative creativity championed by Vermont College of Fine Arts and who have made extraordinary contributions to contemporary arts and culture. Miller’s distinguished career in service of respectful and responsible design practices during the past fifty years is a truly profound and enduring contribution to the scholarship and culture of the design disciplines. The legacy of her work has moved the needle on equitable practices for the design industry and helped to craft a future where Black design history is recognized alongside existing canons.