About The Foundation

Career Design Foundation is a non-profit designed to provide important career information and resources for middle school and high school students. Formed by Helen Leslie Harkness, Ph.D. and a team of forward-looking individuals from the private and public sector, the foundation is working with young people (pre-teen and teenagers) to identifying their current interests, strengths, values and natural talents.

Dr. Harkness regularly teaches the concepts of Career Readiness (previously Mapping Your Future) a career engagement program for middle school and high school students.

Read more about the program in these case studies

Contact Dr. Harkness about the next Mapping Your Future workshop, where she will continue to define and refine this career program for students.

Executive Director

Headshot_Helen_Harkness_150-200Helen Harkness Ph.D.

Dr. Harkness founded Career Design Associates, Inc. in 1978 after experiencing her own career chaos. “Freedom is Knowing your Options” is the creed, the fundamental principle and conviction of Dr. Harkness, who says that career change often occurs when the pain of present circumstances exceeds the fear of change. Her short-hand equation for individuals in this predicament is CC = P > F, which means one only changes careers when the pain is greater than the fear of the change itself.

As a futurist and career consultant for over three decades, she has learned how to watch the workplace and predict future career issues.  In 2009, she began to research how the Texas education system was educating graduates about careers. Through much research and experience with the children of her current and former clients she has been providing career guidance and gained much knowledge and experience in the career crisis and confusion they suffer from as teenagers and young adults.

Her work through the CDF is to provide future graduates with a solid foundation armed with career information and a plan for their future.

Board Members

Board Member Patricia Davis-AkroydPatricia Davis-Akroyd (Pat Warner Akroyd)

Pat was a teacher for 40 years in Florida Elementary Schools. For 15 of these years she focused on teaching gifted students grades K-5. She is founder of the Akroyd Foundation for Creative Education, which provides grants to encouraging teachers to use creative procedures in the core curriculum.

Board Member Virginia BairdVirginia Baird

Virginia Baird has operated her bookkeeping service for many years.  She is involved with St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange, a gift store, owned by the women of  St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal church.  All profits from the shop are given to needy recipients, mostly in the Dallas area.  Virginia is happy to report that many of her five children and six grandchildren live nearby.

Board Member Danya CaseyDanya Casey

Danya Casey, a one-of-a-kind corporate and non-profit event and meeting professional with progressive experience managing the design, marketing and delivery of highly rated adult programming for high net worth individuals and c-suite executives with Young Presidents’ Organization.  Specialties: Brainstorming, Mentoring & Team Collaboration, Budget and Time Line Management, Volunteer Leadership and Donor Engagement, Non-Profit Board Leadership and Fund Raiser.  

Board Member Ross VickRoss Vick

Ross Vick is an entrepreneur with interests in music and entertainment, education, and more. He does these things through his songwriting, music publishing and live performances. In addition to Career Design Foundation, he serves on the board of several education philanthropies: most notably Big Thought, Kids Who Care, Team Green World; and serves on the board of the Vick Family Foundation which provides support for medical research, education and historical preservation initiatives around the nation.