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Johns Hopkins University SAIS

Alumni Magazine Becomes a “Must-Read”




Much More Than a Magazine Redesign Project


When the new dean of John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) came on board, he was moving in a modern, vibrant direction, and he wanted the 40-year-old alumni magazine transformed from a traditional journal of foreign affair topics into an alumni-focused powerhouse, positioning SAIS with the top thought-leaders in the world. The SAIS Director of Strategic Communications and SAIS Magazine editor, Margaret Hardt Frondorf turned to Beth Singer Design to make it happen. Together with a new editorial board, we re-invented the journal as SAIS Magazine, using a bold shift in content and visual convention — one that speaks to, and is written by, alumni professionals in the field of foreign affairs. 

As the magazine took shape, it became a catalyst for community-building. The client engaged an editorial committee from all over the globe and they quickly had a vested interest in the success of the new venture. Many of the articles have a number of voices integrated, both SAIS alumni and world experts, which serves as an opportunity to knit the foreign affairs community more tightly to the school.


A key factor in the success of the new publication was our reinvention of the relationship between editor and designer. With our approach, the editor forwards early drafts of articles to the designers, who share suggestions for possible changes to editorial content, including sidebars, titles, infographics and other elements. Likewise, the editor has become much more of a collaborator on the design. The new system is giving way to engaging presentations and unexpected, edgy design solutions. Original, commissioned illustrations and photography now kick off each article. 


Everything about the new publication communicates sophistication, modernism and energy. As a result of the changes, the client hears continuously about the great interest in the publication from SAIS alumni.


“The best thing I ever did was come to Beth Singer Design. You have made so many contributions to our magazine that people are raving about. There is no doubt the publication is helping to ensure a sustained level of interest and support in the institution as a whole. ”

— Margaret Frondorf, Former Director of Alumni Relations and SAIS Magazine Managing Editor

They asked us to…

  • Transform a traditional public affairs journal into a dynamic reflection of thought-leadership from SAIS’ world-wide alumni and faculty communities, and to reinforce SAIS as the leader foreign affairs post-graduate education.

What we did…

  • Developed an alumni survey to learn more about their interests and preferences

  • Utilized the magazine as a catalyst a culture shift in SAIS’ alumni community

  • Reinvented the relationship between design and editorial for more purposeful and energetic collaboration

  • Created and tested new editorial ideas and visual treatments with an emphasis on a bold, contemporary approach

Client Since:


Project Duration:

6 months for development of new magazine format, ongoing semi-annual issues

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