Proudly Serving Maryland, Delaware and D.C. News Organizations Since 1908

Laila Milevski named Designer of the Year 2023 

May 3, 2024

Laila Milevski of The Baltimore Banner is MDDC’s Designer of the Year for 2023. This award is based on a designer’s work through the contest cycle.  Each designer is required to submit 8-10 pieces, showing creativity and the ability to design across platforms and a letter of recommendation from his or her manager.   

The entries were judged by Adam Marton, digital design lecturer at the University of Maryland, College Park. This year, there were five strong nominations, two of which were previous Designer of the Year honorees.    

In her nomination letter, Emma Patti Harris, Head of Newsroom Audience & Digital Experience, shared that “Laila has consistently demonstrated an exceptional ability to innovate in the field of news design, bringing a unique and captivating approach to storytelling that deserves recognition.” 

The judge agreed, saying “Laila has a unique and fun style that goes far beyond presentation into the realm of visual storytelling. Her work in both comics and photo illustration is extraordinary. I think Laila is one of the best people doing this kind of work today, The Banner is very lucky to have her.” 

Harris went on to say, “In 2023, Laila has displayed an outstanding talent for transforming complex information into visually compelling narratives. Her noteworthy project involving the creation of a fictional character for a comic on the tax sale system in Baltimore exemplifies her ingenuity in making intricate subjects accessible to a broader audience.” 

She created a recreational cannabis Q&A comic, which not only gained popularity on The Banner’s website but also captured the attention of a wide audience on Instagram. She has experimented with animation that accompanied a spoken word piece titled “Body of Star, Body of Light.”  Harris says, “this multidimensional project showcased her versatility and commitment to exploring new mediums to enhance the art of storytelling.” 

Congratulations, Laila! 


About our nominees 

Stokely Baksh, The Baltimore Banner 

Stokely Baksh excels at social, from her social-first video series to her engaging posts. The judge was impressed with Baksh’s ability to bring social media and Instagram posts to life, saying “Stokely has designed some nice social media pieces that are sure to attract audiences and pull them into the topic in a fun and playful manner.“  In her nomination letter, Head of Newsroom Audience and Digital Experience Emma Patti Harris says “Stokely has been the creative force behind all our social media designs, crafting unique branding and templates that have played a pivotal role in making our social graphics stand out in the crowded landscape of digital content. Her ability to infuse creativity into every aspect of our social media presence has significantly contributed to our brand identity and audience engagement.”   


Meredith Moore, APG Media of Chesapeake 

Meredith Moore mixes editorial and advertising work to enhance the design at APG Media of Chesapeake publications.  The judge noted that in Moore’s editorial work she had a “nice interplay between the text and the image, breaking out of the box to connect to the larger spread.” Kristi English, the Director of Marketing and Events, says “Meredith has tremendous flexibility and creativity when it comes to design. She is able to make quick adjustments to camera-ready art as well as build advertisements for clients keeping their brand in mind, while working on highly creative and unique branding for internal sales initiatives.” 


Gabriella Ferraro O’Brien, Catholic Review 

Gabriella Ferraro O’Brien stands out for her wide artistic contributions to the Catholic Review magazine.  In this contest year, she focused on refining the elements of the redesign that launched in 2022.  Chris Gunty, Associate Publisher, notes that Gabriella “puts significant time and effort into each page and story spread. She advocates for more space for photos and graphic elements to make the magazine more attractive to a wide range of demographics. She also goes with our photographer and social media specialist to our schools and other venues for special photo shoots to help coordinate the artistic look. Most notable this year was a fashion show at one of our schools where all the outfits were made with recycled and upcycled materials. The students’ enthusiasm for the project is evident in the photos and layout of the story.”  The judge said, “Gabriella is a great designer who is able to organize seamlessly flow together text and image to create meaningful and interesting page designs and covers.” 

O’Brien won the Designer of the Year award in 2022. 

Tracie Rawson, The Baltimore Sun 

Tracie Rawson is the consummate pro.  In his nomination letter, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Trif Alatzas says, “Tracie looks for fresh approaches to important annual projects, keeping abreast of design trends and incorporating them into her work. She sets the tone visually for her audience before the reader starts the first sentence. From fluid lines full of movement to illustrate a magazine cover about the contribution of women, to straightforward, easy-to-digest graphics about sports.”  The judge said, Tracie has a huge range. She knows how to work with typography, photos, illustrations, infographics and color to make expressive, communicative designs.  She’s also versatile and able to tailor her style to the topic at hand.” 

Rawson won the Designer of the Year award in 2021 and 2019 

Subscribe to our Weekly Planner