Instructors share interior design theory and application through their personal and professional knowledge. Each instructor has their own design business and have a wealth of design experience to share. The instructor’s passion for interior design is only surpassed by their passion for teaching interior design.
STEPHANIE PLYMALE, PRESIDENT & CEO
Stephanie brings her passion for empowering others and helping them grow personally and professionally to Heritage School of Interior Design. Her professional background includes 18 years as an independent interior designer with experience in commercial design, residential design, staging for realtors, and custom window treatments and furnishings. The knowledge she gained helped her to grow not only as a designer, but also as a leader and business owner. She also worked as a top producing in-home designer for Calico Home. After a successful design career, and a thorough understanding of the value of hard work, her passion turned from working as an Interior Designer to empowering and inspiring others. It was soon after this realization that she was given the opportunity to purchase Heritage School of Interior Design, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Since purchasing the school she has utilized the rich history and success of Heritage to transform the program. She has integrated the artistic and creative elements and principles of design and its history with the business and technology of design. To support this transformation, she has developed several new courses, which provide students with the well-rounded education they need to succeed in the industry. Stephanie is currently an active member of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network as well as a volunteer and speaker for Dress for Success Oregon. Stephanie is devoted to the highest quality education and making it accessible to anyone who wants to start or enhance their career in the interior design industry. She does this by providing the educational experience and ongoing support that students need to be successful. Read more about Stephanie here.
ANDREA SAMUELS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Andrea comes to Heritage School of Interior Design with 18 years of experience in higher education. An experienced college dean, she brings strong skills in human resources, program management and business development to the team. Andrea finds that sharing ideas, learning what success means to each student, and seeing that become a reality is what keeps her going every day. Through her work she strives to create positive and high-quality learning experiences and plans to continue this through her role as Executive Director at the Seattle Heritage School of Interior Design.
Andrea is thrilled to align her personal passion for design and creativity with an organization that provides students the opportunity to build practical skills and confidence for entering a career in interior design.
In her free time Andrea enjoys designing and making clothing and spends much of her free time chasing after her young son.
AMY WHITE, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Amy Van Ditti brings her knowledge of marketing and her passion for interior design to Heritage School of Interior Design. She graduated from Portland State University with a business degree in Marketing and Advertising Management and worked in the marketing field for several years. Amy attended Heritage School of Interior Design where she learned the essentials of design and received her Certificate in Interior Custom Design. Amy interned at Garrison Hullinger Interior Design as a Marketing Assistant, was the Social Media Coordinator for award winning builder Westlake Development Group LLC., and spent time working with an independent designer as a Design Consultant.
Amy began working with Stephanie in 2015 to enhance the online presence of the school with an updated website, blog and social media. Over the last several years her role has grown and she is now the Director of Operations at the school. Her role includes student relations, business management, website management and marketing.
JIM PLYMALE, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
Jim has over 25 years of startup and growth stage company leadership experience. He is currently the CEO of Machine Research, a cloud-based software company in Portland that helps custom manufacturers win more profitable business by improving their quoting and manufacturing business processes. In 2014 he helped his wife, Stephanie, launch Heritage School of Interior Design leveraging experience from her 20+ year successful interior design career. In addition to supporting Heritage School of Interior Design, he is an active member and leader of Vistage Portland, an organization that works with leaders and CEO’s to grow and transform companies. Jim truly enjoys coaching and development of startup phase companies and is excited to share his knowledge with students at Heritage School of Interior Design. In 2003 Jim founded Clinicient and pioneered cloud based services to outpatient therapy practices. He led Clinicient through years of revenue growth and raised more than $25M in capital from local and national investors. Clinicient now employs more than 120 people in Portland, OR. Prior to Clinicient, Jim held senior marketing and management roles at several Oregon based companies including OrCAD, where he helped lead the company to a successful IPO in 1996. Jim has extensive experience in all aspects of building and growing businesses through innovative sales and marketing programs including educational marketing, online/digital marketing, social media marketing and traditional marketing.
KRISTIN SIDORAK, DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Kristin Sidorak brings a decade of experience in Learning & Organizational Development, Sales, Marketing and Analytics from Google, Airbnb and NIKE as well as the dynamic pulse of a lifetime of creative pursuits as a recording musician, visual artist and most recently, interior designer. Kristin completed Heritage Fundamentals in 2018 while working full-time in sales and sourcing at Nest Showroom in Portland, OR. Her ultimate goal is to collaborate and orchestrate the most effective and empowering learning experience for each Heritage student in every location.
This goal will be met by bridging analytical tendencies, passion for effective learning programs and creativity with a listening-centered, open-minded collaboration among staff, students and the design community in each HSID location. HSID course offerings will always optimize per student and instructor feedback and the progressive design industry and local communities. We aim to empower individuals to live the life they’ve always wanted. We believe this involves being forward thinking while making constructive moves in the present.
As well as being a certified interior designer and independent artist, Kristin is a certified health counselor via Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In her free time she’ll be found adventuring and eating well with loved ones, working on a new painting or song, evolving the look and organization of her or her friend’s homes or running cathartic laps around Portland’s local parks. Kristin moved to Portland almost six years ago after seven years of climbing the ranks within both Google and the independent music scene in NYC.
CARA MURRAY, STUDENT RELATIONS DIRECTOR
Cara Murray joined Heritage in 2018 as our Student Relations Manager. Cara has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design from University of Oregon with a focus in textiles and home furnishings. She also studied jacquard weaving at the Fondazione Lisio in Florence Italy, where she gained an appreciation for fine craftsmanship and textile construction.
Before joining the Heritage team, Cara worked at a Digital Textile Printing Startup in Portland where she collaborated with local interior designers and other small businesses to bring their designs to life on custom printed fabric. She loved being a part of Portland’s diverse and supportive community of small businesses, makers, and designers.
Cara’s role at Heritage will include building connections and relationships with students, the industry, and design professionals. We are so excited to have her on our team!
GWEN WILLIAMS, FUNDAMENTALS INSTRUCTOR
Gwen Williams is an interior designer who can’t imagine a more fulfilling career. In business as Space Transform, Gwen works mainly with residential clients to create harmonious spaces that are perfectly suited to their lives. She utilizes interior design along with feng shui principles to optimize the beauty and functionality as well as the energy of the environments she touches. Gwen received her undergraduate education in the fields of biology and psychology, and started her career in science and technology before being called to follow a creative path. She studied interior design at Bellevue College and feng shui at the Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute, and started her design career as an architectural lighting designer before starting her business in 2005. Since then Gwen has been based in both Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, working with hundreds of clients and continuing to find her chosen profession a rich source of joy, interesting challenges, and constant learning. She aims to empower the students at Heritage with the tools and inspiration to follow their own rewarding creative paths.
J.D. NESBITT, FUNDAMENTALS & BUSINESS INSTRUCTOR
J.D. is a serial entrepreneur and designer with nearly 15 years of experience in the design industry. His experience includes high-end residential, light commercial, custom hardware, publishing, graphic and kitchen & bath design both on the West Coast and in the Midwest. With his original education and work experience in Corporate Accounting, J.D. is proficient in both the financial and technical aspects of the industry.
After working in high-end residential design with another designer for several years, and while still in design college, he started his own residential and light commercial firm with his business partner/husband. What started as a desk in the corner of their apartment became an accomplished local firm serving clients throughout Central Indiana from a magnificent one-hundred-year-old home.
During this time, J.D. also co-founded a successful publishing company that produced a local, county-wide home magazine created to not only serve as a marketing vehicle for the design firm, but also to support the community by giving small business owners a more affordable way to advertise directly to their target local market.
After several years, J.D. and his family made the decision to sell everything and move to Seattle to facilitate the next steps in his career. A contemporary designer at heart, the Pacific Northwest and Seattle in particular, was the perfect choice.
Now starting his sixth business, J.D. is excited to bring his knowledge and expertise to the students at Heritage.
ROBERT CIPOLLONE, COMMERCIAL DESIGN INSTRUCTOR
Robert is a catalyst. Design as is life, is all about team work and Robert likes to keep the team moving toward success. Robert seeks out experiences and loves sharing what he has learned while doing them. Teaching interior design at Heritage allows the transfer of his enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry to the students, faculty and community. Robert enjoys creating a dialogue and looks forward to engaging with every individual to bring out their best.
Fascination with color, texture and human interactions within their environment led to a 30+ year career in hospitality design. Robert’s personal dedication to each project’s success has created a strong foundation with customer service. Diplomacy of working with individuals and clients to bring out their best is a characteristic Robert brings to the mix. He understands that to achieve a successful interior, it takes a village of professionals working well together. Every client opening a commercial space is sharing a story. Robert believes that each interiors project is successful only if it reveals the 3-dimensionsal needs of the client’s brand story and yields the financial success the client projected.
A truly successful design student and professional can flip between creative right-brain thinking and the nuts and bolts left-brain thinking. Robert’s early career as a structural engineer taught him the technical building skills to push boundaries of materials. As he matured, he learned to marry his artistic skills with the technical to create highly immersive environments. Robert works to mentor this switching of the brain with his team mates/students. Within the rigorous schedule of commercial projects, an excellent designer will know when to push creative ideas and when to resolve technical challenges. It’s a balance of art and science, Robert loves to explore.
Robert doesn’t spend too much time away from creating environments, but when he does get distracted, he will be with his husband and two dogs traveling the globe or hiking the PNW.
DRUE HARTWELL, KITCHEN & BATH DESIGN INSTRUCTOR
Drue has a strong passion for Kitchen & Bath design, along with a large knowledge base of technical aspects, that she will bring to her students. After studying for a degree in Visual Communications at Western Washington University she moved to a small Florida town where she helped to open a satellite office for St. Charlies of Palm Beach, a high end Kitchen & Bath firm. It was here that her skills were honed not only in design, but construction, project management and the interpersonal skills necessary to be part of a successful team.
While working with the President of Windsor Polo Club on his own Kitchen, she was asked to be the developments consultant working with several well-known international architects and designers. Her work at Windsor was featured in the 50th Anniversary issue of Florida Architecture as well as Metropolitan Home. It was here that Drue partnered with a highly skilled craftsman to produce one of a kind custom kitchens, developed a name for herself and became an independent designer.
Moving back to the NW, Drue continued to partner with small custom shops and worked on Sun Valley homes, Seattle penthouses and waterfront properties. At this time she began working in the remodeling industry, consulting for several high end contractors and giving seminars to the public on various remodeling subjects from Universal Design to How to Begin a Remodel. Loving to teach has brought her to Heritage Design School, where she hopes not only to instill a love of Kitchen & Bath Design in her students, but the skills necessary to be highly successful.
SHAHZADI ISRAR, REVIT INSTRUCTOR
Shahzadi comes to Heritage School of Interior Design with experience in Architecture and Interior Design. She started her career as an architect and later moved on to work as an interior designer. Her education includes a B-Arch in Architecture and a Master’s in Interior Design. She has worked in Houston in corporate interiors for few years before moving to Pittsburgh, where she worked in residential interiors and renovations. Shahzadi is a LEED AP and her design practices reflect a strong focus on sustainable practices. Having worked with all the design softwares for over a decade, she is excited to bring that experience to the students of Heritage. New to Seattle, she is looking forward to exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
LUKE FISHER, BRANDING & TECHNOLOGY INSTRUCTOR
Lucas Fisher is a multimedia artist, designer, and educator currently based in Seattle, Washington. Growing up in a military family, he is very comfortable with an ever-changing landscape. After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art he has worked both internationally and locally, in many fields including Exhibit Design, Web Development, Graphic Design and Education. Firmly believing in a Multi-Disciplinary philosophy, he is also a musician, illustrator, and co-founder of the art collective Spellabee Space. Lucas is always looking for new skills to learn and new opportunities to create interesting and exciting work.