Tiff Lu



Point A (2017 - Present)

Point A is working to create a network of ambitious and engaged income-sharing egalitarian urban communes as a starting point on the road to a more humane, satisfying, and sustainable world for all. Point A is a project of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC).

The Point A project in New York is affiliated with Smiling Hogshead Ranch, an autonomous, all-volunteer urban farm. After two years of organizing that I joined onto in May 2017, Point A successfully founded an urban commune in Astoria, Queens, New York City.

Penn Haven Housing Co-op (2012 - 2015)

Established in 2011, Penn Haven Housing Co-operative (PHHC) is a vegan cooperative living community committed to social justice and sustainability. PHHC is committed to making decisions by consensus, living consciously, and working to create a safe, affordable, and welcoming space for student-aged individuals in the Philadelphia area.

I was a member of Penn Haven Housing Co-operative for two and a half years, from August 2012 till December 2015, and have held multiple roles including Mediator, Treasurer and Bulk Purchaser.

PHHC’s Values

H ome — We seek to create a fun-loving, open, inclusive home for the residents of the Penn Haven Housing Co-op by embracing everyone’s identities.

A ctivity — By hosting events open to the community at Penn, we ensure that the co-op is an active environment that offers an alternative to the dominant culture on campus.

V irtuosity — Everyone contributes their labor and supports one another by embracing collective living. We value everyone’s efforts and seek to distribute labor equally.

E nvironmentalism — We strive to be sustainable and minimize our carbon footprint.

N on-hierarchical Structures — We operate by consensus and believe that non-hierarchy ensures that everyone has equal power and voice in our house.

Intersectional Feminism

V-Day (2014 - 2015)

The V-Day College Campaign is one of the largest and most successful social justice movements on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. V-Day UPenn has become the catalyst for mobilizing both women and men to heighten awareness of violence against women of all ages, as well as the force that empowers individuals and the public-at-large to bring that violence to an end.

The campaign puts on an annual benefit production of Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues, which reaches over 4,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and residents. Over the past seven years, V-Day UPenn has raised over $290,000 for its beneficiary, Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), the only full-service rape crisis center in Philadelphia.

I was a member of the Associate Board from 2014 - 2015, working to raise campaign awareness and supporting efforts to make the movement more inclusive of transgender women.

Graphic Designer (2014 - 2015)

Student Anti-Violence Advocate (2013)

Hosted by Penn Violence Prevention at the University of Pennsylvania, Student Anti-Violence Advocate (SAVA) training is an interactive 6-hour training that educates students about the prevalence and impact of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. It provides them with the skills to recognize and respond to interpersonal violence if they, or a friend, experiences it and prepares them to be an active bystander combating violence on campus.

I underwent SAVA training in 2013 and subsequently led anti-violence trainings in student groups, such as the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.

LGBTQ Advocacy

See the other projects in my portfolio for a summary of my queer advocacy work.


Aug 2015 - Present

Director of Technology

Founded in 2014, AsylumConnect is a fiscally sponsored nonprofit creating the first online resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the United States. The AsylumConnect catalog helps persecuted LGBTQ peoples identify and access verified human needs resources upon their arrival in the U.S.

AsylumConnect has received recognition and support from the United Nations, MCJ/Amelior Foundation, Millennium Campus Network (MCN), Business Today, Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and more.

As Director of Technology, I oversee design and development of the AsylumConnect Catalog.

Screenshot of the AsylumConnect Catalog web application

See Our Cause for more.


Nov 2017, AsylumConnect 2016-2017 Annual Report

Nov 2016, The Seattle Pilot of the AsylumConnect Catalog: A Case Study

Sept 2016, AsylumConnect 2015-2016 Annual Report

See our Press and Recognition for more.


Mar 2016 - Nov 2017, Jun - Aug 2015

Software Engineer, Support Engineer, Customer Success Intern

Braze (formerly Appboy) offers a lifecycle engagement platform that empowers brands to humanize connections with customers, resulting in better experiences and retention. Each month, tens of billions of messages associated with nearly 2 billion active users are managed through its technology. Braze has been named a Leader in the Forrester Wave™: Mobile Engagement Automation, a Cloud100 Rising Star in Forbes, and #21 in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 List.



Closed source, GitHub

Braze’s iOS SDK consumes 3B+ data points and sends 100M+ messages daily in apps like Soundcloud and Lyft. It was ranked by MightySignal as the Most-Used Push SDK in the Top 200 iOS Apps.

  • Developed features, fixed bugs, maintained platform health, coordinated SDK releases
  • Rearchitected server-side architecture and on-disk ata persistence code
  • Used Objective-C, Cocoapods, Xcode, Buddybuild, Swift, Carthage

React Native SDK

Open source, GitHub

  • Led cross-platform development
  • Managed open-source code contributions and SDK releases
  • Used Javascript, Node.js, npm, Android Studio, Java

iOS Test App

Open source, Github

I redesigned the public iOS test app for a better user experience, using Objective-C and Xcode.



Braze Documentation and Braze Academy

As a Customer Success intern in Summer 2015, I designed and developed Braze’s technical (Documentation) and marketer-facing (Academy) sites from scratch and migrated all content from a deprecated platform. I served as product manager, project manager, UI/UX designer, information architect and software developer on this project. I also worked cross-functionally with the Customer Success, Design and Engineering teams. The final product used Jekyll, JavaScript, jQuery, Bootstrap, Sass, and HTML/CSS.



Designer and developer, Documentation

Designer and developer, Documentation

Unity SDK

Open source, GitHub

  • Developed an iOS build automation tool in C# that helped close $150k+ in upsell and renewals


Software Development

Cesium (2015)

Cesium is an open-source JavaScript library for world-class 3D globes and maps. It is downloaded more than 10,000 times every month and powers apps that reach millions of users. I contributed to two Cesium releases under the mentorship of lead developer Patrick Cozzi, during an Open-Source Software Development course at the University of Pennsylvania.

CZML Examples

CZML is Cesium’s JSON schema for describing time-dynamic scenes. It uses information “packets” of graphical primitives (e.g., lines, points, shapes, sprites) and their change over time to describe graphical properties for individual objects in a scene. I helped smooth out the CZML learning curve for Cesium users by adding breadth and depth of CZML examples to the demo environment (Cesium Sandcastle).

Optimizing Imagery Providers

Cesium serves terrain imagery via graphical map tiles served by various imagery providers (e.g., OpenStreetMap, Bing, Mapbox). Despite vast amounts of shared logic between retrieving images from different providers, the Cesium codebase had separate classes and methods for each imagery provider. I abstracted specific imagery provider classes (e.g., OpenStreetMapImageryProvider, TileMapServiceImageryProvider) to inherit functionality from a generic UrlTemplateImageryProvider.

Product Development

GyroCup (2015)

My team’s final product for MEAM 415: Introduction to Product Design was the GyroCup: a gyroscopic cup holder that uses the liquid weight of a beverage to keep it upright, regardless of the bike’s orientation. Our product was awarded first place at the MEAM 415 Design Fair, which showcased final products from two Intro to Product Design classes.

Prototype, Laserprinted

Final product, 3-D Printed

Graphic Design

Textual Interpretation


Science is still one of my chief joys. The popularization of science that Isaac Asimov did so well—the communication not just of the findings but of the methods of science—seems to me as natural as breathing. After all, when you’re in love, you want to tell the world.

– Carl Sagan, “Wonder and Skepticism”, Skeptical Inquirer 19 (1), January-February 1995, ISSN 0194-6730

I transcribed Carl Sagan’s “Wonder and Skepticism” into a textual interpretation, which I printed using laser-cut linoleum blocks on a linotype machine.

Lasercut linoleum block

Linotype print

As a fun side note, here’s an additional excerpt from Sagan’s piece:

There’s another reason I think popularizing science is important, why I try to do it. It’s a foreboding I have—maybe ill-placed—of an America in my children’s generation, or my grandchildren’s generation, when all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when we’re a service and information-processing economy; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest even grasps the issues; when the people (by “the people” I mean the broad population in a democracy) have lost the ability to set their own agendas, or even to knowledgeably question those who do set the agendas; when there is no practice in questioning those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and religiously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline, unable to distinguish between what’s true and what feels good, we slide, almost without noticing, into superstition and darkness.

This was published in 1995. It’s a little terrifying to think about this in context of current events, but also heartening to see how my research interests and skills have grown so organically over the past five years. I feel just as passionate about working to counteract this version of reality, and infinitely more prepared to go out into the world and do it.


During a 2012 Graphic Design class at the University of Pennsylvania, I was tasked with creating a personal logo. I first collected external inspiration:

Then conducted internal reflection:

I integrated this inspiration with my initials (TL) to make the following shape:

While it conveyed the clean, bold aesthetic and sense of movement I was aiming for, it lacked grounding and was too sharp and static. I wanted to impart a sense of continuity, a shape that existed both in and outside of itself. My final product is the personal logo I still use today:

Font Design


ZONING, Adobe Photoshop and InDesign

Inspired by a Victorian townhouse on South Street, Philadelphia, PA, ZONING is an architectural font that remains true to its late seventeenth century root Queen Anne values of picturesque coherence and informality. The Aesthetic Movement of the 1890s, which revitalized Philadelphian townhouse design, is apparent in the font’s thinned architectural lines, relative unornamentation, and balanced asymmetries. Form follows function with the lettering’s stacking and gridding capacity: ZONING’s wide range of applicability runs the gamut from modernized subway design to children’s educational television.

Sound Transcription


I visually transcribed “The Light” by Blackmill into the paired visual pieces:

Photography and Adobe Photoshop

Creative Process Book


I printed and hand-bound a book describing my creative process.

Adobe InDesign



Photoshoot Director, Photo Editing, Adobe Photoshop and InDesign

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign

Photography, Copywriting, Adobe InDesign

Photography, Copywriting, Adobe InDesign

Lesbians Who Tech

September 2017

Hackathon Lead

Lesbians Who Tech is a community of queer women in and around tech who are working to diversify STEM and build inclusive networks.

Social Good Hackathon

The 4th Annual Lesbians Who Tech + Allies Summit from September 7th-9th, 2017 in New York City brought together over 2,000 lesbians, queer women + allies across all areas of technology.

As AsylumConnect’s Director of Technology, I was invited to lead a project at the summit’s day-long Social Good Hackathon. Our team guided software engineers, UX designers, journalists, students, and nonprofit administrators through this prompt:

Empower persecuted queer populations to seek asylum in the U.S.

Thousands ​of LGBTQ immigrants and asylum seekers come to the U.S. every year, fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Yet even upon arrival, they often struggle to meet fundamental human needs. AsylumConnect is a nonprofit that helps queer asylum seekers find lifesaving resources. Help us ideate ways to better serve our population, from amplifying their voices to safely integrating into local communities.

We educated hackathon attendees about the plight of LGBTQ asylum seekers in the United States, led a collective brainstorming session around organizationally identified challenges, and facilitated the hackathon team in building their project.

The team we led placed second with AsylumConnect Community, a social extension to the AsylumConnect resource catalog that aimed to provide asylum seekers with a sense of psychological safety, security, and community.

LWT Hackathon


Jan - Apr 2013

Supplement Editor

QPenn is the University of Pennsylvania’s annual LGBTQ Cultural Week. The QPenn Supplement to Penn’s student paper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, features work by queer students at the University of Pennsylvania.

QPenn week consists of events hosted by the various constituent groups of Lambda focusing on different aspects of LGBT life, including intimate partner violence, film screenings and the annual Pride Games, aimed at tackling homophobia in athletics.

Designer, Adobe Illustrator


As Editor for the QPenn Supplement to Penn’s student paper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, I curated submissions and designed the supplement. The cover design conveys the 2013 theme, “50 Shades of Gay,” which highlights the range of identities within the queer community.

Submissions Editor, Designer, Adobe InDesign and Photoshop


Summer 2013

Design Intern

SHIFTSPACE is a collective of architects and designers blending architectural space, public art, landscapes, and sustainability together with places and products.

Product Design

At the start of my internship, SHIFTSPACE had installed a temporary construction fence around Philadelphia’s 30th St Station that consisted of a series of metal planter units:


30th St Station, Philadelphia, March 2013

These metal units absorbed heat under the summer sun, creating an inhospitable plant environment. I worked with a team of two other interns to redesign the planter units, conducting materials research and iterating on product designs. Our final design used locally-sourced fabric that was heat-resistant, compatible with irrigation systems and easier to install.

Our product was brought to market following the conclusion of my internship. In 2016, our redesigned vertical planters were installed inside 30th St Station in partnership with Amtrak and University City District. The Amtrak Gardens installation was a key element in welcoming the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Philadelphia.


30th St Station, Philadelphia, July 2016

30th St Station, Philadelphia, July 2016

Web Design

Web design, project page

Web design, project page

Graphic Design

Launch party invitation, Adobe InDesign


Aug 2011 - Dec 2014

Art Director, Copywriter

The WALK is the University of Pennsylvania’s premier fashion magazine. Completely student-run, it was named one of the country’s best college fashion magazines in 2013 by Teen Vogue and has won numerous awards for journalism and design from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA).


Layout Design

Art Director

Art Director, Winter 2014 Issue, The WALK

Senior Layout Editor

Layout Designer



Undergraduate Senior Capstone Thesis in Computer Science

December 2015

Doing “Tech 4 Good” Well: Designing Technology Solutions for Sustainable Social Impact in Disadvantaged Communities

Submitted to the Department of Computer and Information Science in fulfillment of the Senior Capstone Thesis for the degree of BAS in Computer Science (ASCS) at the University of Pennsylvania.


The ubiquity of computing technologies has revolutionized not only our global social consciousness, but also our collective abilities to innovate for socioeconomic impact. The past eight years have seen an unprecedented swell of interest in developing technologies to uplift marginalized, underserved or underrepresented communities. Yet while good intentions and technical expertise can serve as catalysts of revolutionary innovation, there is a unique set of concerns involved in designing technology solutions for disadvantaged populations. This paper strives to investigate those considerations and synthesize concrete suggestions for how to “do good” well.

In this thesis, I first summarize the rise of interest in leveraging computer technologies for social good and their potential for accelerating socioeconomic growth in disadvantaged communities. In recognizing the human vulnerabilities exposed by such endeavors, I draw attention to necessary considerations and propose a need for multidisciplinary analysis. Drawing from an existing field of research on the use of information and communication technologies in international development, I advocate for the adoption of human-centered design and community-driven development paradigms. Finally, I present a literature review of best practices for sustainable impact and conclude with a case study describing my experiences designing a technology platform for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the United States.

Full text available here.


Stamped Magazine

Web Designer, 2012-2013

Stamped Magazine, the University of Pennsylvania’s student travel magazine, is a print and online publication that aims to inspire self-discovery and promote cultural exchange.

Web design, header

Web design, homepage

Web design, section page

Web design, section page

Web design, magazine article page

Projects Skills