All Black Lives Matter

About Me

Jillian's avatar

Jillian S. Estrella
🏳️‍🌈 she/her 🏳️‍⚧️

Design systems and developer experience engineer

  Return to homepage

Current Work

Software Engineering Manager, Design Systems and Developer Experience

Northwestern Mutual

September 2022 - Present

I manage the design system and developer experience tooling within Northwestern Mutual's Developer Experience (DevX) group. My team oversees:

  • Design system core libraries
  • Design system community contribution libraries
  • Server-side and client-side utilities
  • Platform integrations
  • Platform developer tools

Some of my responsibilities include:

  • Collaborate with design, content, accessibility, and product leads to roadmap, plan and delegate work
  • Coach junior, mid-level, and senior engineers
  • Improve process and team standards
  • Recruit and interview candidates

Previous Work

Senior Software Engineer, Design Systems Core Lead

Northwestern Mutual

Jan 2022 - Aug 2022

In this position I oversaw multiple teams/projects on Northwestern Mutual's design system, Luna. Some of my responsibilities included:

  • Worked with leadership to roadmap, plan and delegate work
  • Worked with designers to define and implement new functionality
  • Paired with and coached junior and mid-level engineers
  • Continually worked with my team to improve upon and establish new team standards and best practices
  • Was active in recruiting and interviewing potential candidates
  • Advised on Contributions and Integrations as needed

Some of my achievements in this role were

  • Migrated Luna to a monorepo
  • Shipped Luna as a monorepo
  • Improved continuous integration pipeline resulting in
    • a more reliable release cadence
    • review applications
    • canary releases for live testing pre-production
  • Shipped Luna React Tables
  • Shipped Luna Responsive Optimizations

Senior Software Engineer, Design Systems Contributions and Integrations Lead

Northwestern Mutual

Jan 2021 - Dec 2021

In this role, my focus was on lowering barriers for other teams at the company to contribute to Luna. For a design system to be successful, it requires buy-in from everyone at the company. One way to get this investment is to ensure that anyone can contribute; thus providing everyone a sense of ownership.

One solution to this problem was the creation of Community Contribution Libraries (CCLs). The Luna CCL development environment, which implements Storybook, is pleasant to work in. It increases developer velocity while reducing frustration. Luna CCLs also lower the collaboration barrier between designers and engineers.

The Luna CCLs were also used to improve and implement better testing standards/practices. CCLs were built from the start to lower the effort required for engineers to implement tests and improve test coverage and variety; including real-time and regression testing for accessibility, components, and screens. Thereby increasing the confidence in the quality of the products we ship.

To govern the use of CCLs, I launched our Community Contribution Model. This model offers guidelines for CCL candidacy, lifecycle, and core promotion.

Lead Developer, Educational Technology and Web Applications

BSCS Science Learning

Aug 2015 - July 2021

During my time with BSCS, I established and grew an in-house software development team and modernized BSCS’s crumbling tech stack.

I oversaw the adoption of innovative approaches to software and design such as design systems; component based, serverless, and microservice architectures; and the beloved Jamstack.

These innovations allowed my small team to keep pace with increasing demand. We were able to create BSCS's digital products with more efficiency and at a higher quality with lower product support costs.

A typical day for me involved

  • Roadmapping, planning, and delegating work
  • Architecting solutions to complex problems
  • Overseeing BSCS's digital products throughout their lifecycle
  • Guiding and mentoring my team
  • Designing/building UI's and UI components

Our stack consisted of

Our design system, Caribou, used Gatsby and our component library was built in Storybook; components were published to NPM to make them readily consumable.

Instructor; Astronomy and Physics

Pikes Peak Community College

Aug 2014 - Aug 2015

Prior to my career in software development, I was an astronomy and physics instructor. My courses introduced students to the skills required to think critically about the physical world and offered students experience in solving real-world problems.

Research Assistant

University of Michigan

Aug 2011 - Aug 2014

In graduate school, I did research on the space environment of planets and comets. Colloquially known as “space weather,” my research investigated how the solar wind affects the magnetospheres, ionospheres, and upper atmospheres of these objects.


My studies focused on the theory of plasma physics, electromagnetism, fluid dynamics, atmospheric radiative transfer and their applications to solar physics and planetary science.

Emphasis was placed on numerical analysis, algorithms, and computational techniques for solving and analyzing physics and engineering problems.

I gained a strong foundation in classical mechanics, modern physics, electromagnetics, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, condensed matter physics, nuclear & particle physics, plasma physics, circuit theory & design, and certified to design and machine custom parts for laboratory experiments in the physics department's state of the art machine shop.

I studied, in-depth, the current understanding of most astrophysical phenomena such as geophysics, atmospheric & planetary science, stellar structure & evolution, galaxies, neutron stars, and black holes.

Extracurricular Interests

Jillian and her family.

Jillian and her family.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my beautiful family, creating visual and immersive art, adventuring in our van (#vanlife), practicing yoga, mountain biking, and I read a lot.

  Return to homepage

Interested in collaborating?