After national searches, Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester has appointed two new department chairs and a new assistant department chair.

“These new leaders bring to Otis a profound understanding of design education and administrative expertise as well as uncommonly rich perspectives as designers in the worlds of academia and professional practice,” said college president Samuel Hoi.

Kali Nikitas is the new chair of the Communication Arts Department. She was previously chair of the Northeastern University Department of Visual Arts in Boston.

She was also chair of the Design Department at Minneapolis College of Art and Design for six years and a professor of visual communications (1991-1997) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Nikitas holds a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design from the California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design with a minor in English literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In addition to her academic roles, she founded her own design firm, is a fellow of the Design Institute in Minneapolis and is chief editor of the Loop: AIGA Experiment in Design Education Web site.

She frequently curates exhibitions and writes about design.

Deborah Ryan is the new chair of the Otis Toy Design Department and has served as an Otis faculty member since 2001.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in design from University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

A 20-year veteran of the toy industry, Ryan was senior project designer for Mattel Toys for more than a decade and held key creative positions for Applause Incorporated, The Walt Disney Company and Aurora World Incorporated.

Her experience encompasses design and development, licensed products, apparel, collector and fashion dolls, feature plush, novelties, gifts and other consumer products.

Ryan says her educational objectives at Otis include enhancing the role of technology and electronics in the existing toy design curriculum and expanding the department’s community outreach.

David Fletcher has been appointed to the newly established assistant chair position in the Department of Architecture/Landscape/Interiors (A/L/I).

“David is an exceptional practitioner and educator,” said department chair Linda Pollari. “I look forward to working with him as he advances the landscape architecture component of the A/L/I curriculum.”

Fletcher will assist Pollari in the management of the landscape architecture program, which is expanding.

An urban and landscape designer, he holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and two degrees from the University of California at Davis — a Bachelor of Arts in sculpture and public art and a Bachelor of Science in landscape architecture.

He is the project manager of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan developed by Mia Lehrer + Associates.