The Collective

Creative Catalysts, an initiative of Mesa Arts Center, offers The Collective, a program that uses creativity to activate leadership skills and enhance innovation across sectors. The Collective brings creativity to the forefront of the conversation by intentionally weaving it into every lesson on leadership, collaboration, failure, problem-solving, and mindfulness.


The 12-week program includes applied learning sessions, art experiences and a final project. 


To date, 47 participants have graduated from the program, and The Collective alumni consist of leaders from a variety of industries and professions.


The breakdown:

  •  Accomplished leaders from a variety of different industries will facilitate learning and discussions.
  • Participation in community projects will exercise examples of theory in practice.
  • Final projects will provide real-world implementation of what has been taught.
  • A focus on personal growth will allow participants to apply lessons in ways that are meaningful and immediate in both personal and professional situations.


Check out our handy one-page breakdown with more details about The Collective program goals and what to expect. 


Have questions? Just want to know when the application is live for The Collective 2021? Add your info here to stay connected.  


Now more than ever, we are tasked with reinventing how we do things. The Collective offers leadership training with creativity at the core, infusing mindfulness, collaboration, and design thinking to elevate your professional skillset during this transformational time in history. Tap into your own creative superpowers and join others as they carve a new path for success. This year's program will be offered through a blend of virtual and in-person instruction (safety first!).


Alicia Holmes   

Mesa United Way

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Brynn Locke 

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Cheyenne Hepworth

Roosevelt School

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Christi Currier 

Stay-at-home mom/Self-employed

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Iris Avila

Mesa Fire and Medical Department

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Ivy Nnakabonge 

Scottsdale Interior Design Group

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James Grubb 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix

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Jess Wozniak 

Mesa Community College

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Karen Kormendy 

Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix

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Keith Stanton   

Thoma-Holec Design

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Leon Webber

Retired Therapist

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Mariel Marino 

Harmony Project Phoenix

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Marlena Robbins

Cultural Coalition, Inc.

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Muthana Toman 

Mountain Park Health Center

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Rebecca Murphy Keith


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Ric Castillo


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Shay Masterson 

Benedictine University Mesa

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Stephanie Madden

DMB Community Life

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Torie Klocko 

Thunderbird School of Global Management

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Wendy Miller

Alhambra Elementary School District

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Arianna Jones

Arizona's Children Association

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Azucena Gutierrez

Anderson Family Dentistry

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Brett Farkas


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Caden Gillespie

Arizona State University

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Deanna Reid


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Elaissa Sears

Maricopa County Justice Courts

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Jacob Bush


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Jenna Maley


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Jessie Bali

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona

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Justine Sponder

University of Phoenix

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Katie'B Jarvis

Childsplay Theatre

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Keiona Eady


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Kimberly Crowther Miller

Eastmark at DMB Community Life, Inc

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Mawa Keita

Wells Fargo

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Molly W. Schenck

Freelance Artist and Educator

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Monique Jones

Banner Health

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Ruth Sager


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Ryan Sereduk

Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation

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Stephanie Coombs


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Tiesha Harrison

Valley Leadership

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Tyler Stalica

CORE Construction

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Zane Ewton

Arizona Public Service (APS)

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Zara Bish

Town of Gilbert, Arizona

Videos describing the final projects of the 2019 cohort of The Collective can be viewed here

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Alumni Final Project Videos

Videos describing the final projects of the 2019 cohort of The Collective can be viewed here.  


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  • CREATIVE LEADERSHIP: A fresh look at leadership through a creative lens, with skills to apply in everyday life and career situations.
  • PERSONAL GROWTH: By combining skill building with mindfulness and personal growth, we equip participants to thoughtfully and effectively put skills into practice.
  • PEER NETWORK: A robust collective of collaborators and leaders across sectors and access to an extensive network of artists, civic practitioners, local business and community members.
  • COMMUNITYEnhanced skills and tools to design, implement and sustain effective community engagement.
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You DO NOT need to be an ARTIST to participate in The Collective. If you have a desire to build your leadership skills through creativity, and to learn how to make change through creative practice - this program is for you. Participants will be selected through a competitive application process, and each round will include 15-24 people.



If you say YES to any of the below, we want you!


 Individuals who:

  • Seek to expand their skill sets to include creative and mindful leadership
  • Self-identify as a creative and are looking to step into leadership opportunities.
  • Self-identify as a community leader and are looking to elevate your skills.
  • Leaders who are eager for new experiences, relationships, cross-sector collaborations
  • and potential partnerships with others working in your community.
  • Are part of an organization that values innovation.

Organizations who:

  • Have core values of innovation and creative problem solving.
  • Value collaboration.
  • Want to empower employees to develop relationships and resources through a cross-sector network.
  • Want to empower employees to expand their skill sets to include creative and mindful leadership.
  • Value how a hyper-localized community can impact business.
  • Recognize the value of creativity in building a workforce steeped in innovative capabilities.
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The Big Picture 

  • 12 weeks in the program, two months to implement your final project
  • 6 half-day sessions, occurring once every two weeks
  • 3 arts experiences, one as a volunteer
  • 1 overnight retreat-style experience
  • A desire and commitment to build community using creative problem solving

Estimated total of 110 hours

  • 30 hours in session
  • 50 hours outside work including:
    • reading & homework
    • independently-pursued arts experiences,
    • volunteer time, and
    • final project development and implementation
  • 30 hours for the overnight retreat

Ideal candidates may have:

  • Unique perspective to share with the cohort
  • Desire/time to commit to a leadership training program


The Collective selection committee seeks a diverse group for the program. Applications will be reviewed by a select panel of Mesa Arts Center staff and community leaders. 


Program tuition is $800 and is due in full by the first day of class - this includes all of your sessions and the retreat expenses.* Your employer may be willing to assist with all or part of the tuition. Partial or full scholarships based on need may be available.


*Participants will be responsible for your commute expense (car, bus, carpool) to attend the retreat.

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Tomas J. Stanton & Jennifer Gastelum – Lead Facilitators

Dorian & Krissy Lenz – Collaboration & Leadership

Pamela Slim - What is Leadership?

Sogol Homayoun - What is Creativity?

Tiara Cash - Equitable Mindfulness

Amanda Garbade – Mindful Leadership

Dennis Gable -  Creative Grassroots Engagement

Ita Udo-Ema – Video Production 101

Stuart Seigel & Aaron Cooper – Ajo Retreat Facilitators


Sogol Homayoun is a trilingual, strategic and self-motivated leader. She started her career in investment management undergoing a rotational leadership development program while pursuing her Global MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Sogol was then inspired to learn more about leadership. She started her second career as global university recruiter for her alma mater, Thunderbird (now a unit of Arizona State University), while pursuing her doctorate in Leadership and Innovation at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College. For her action research study, her innovation has been to develop a creative leadership professional development program. Sogol’s goal is to help students understand what creativity means, how to recognize it, and share ways to creatively express their value to others and organizations. Originally, Sogol was raised in the Middle East and has traveled to over 14 countries. She has worked and studied in developed and developing markets and thrives in cross-cultural environments yet remains committed to improving the community in which she lives and works.


Pamela Slim is an award-winning author, speaker and small business coach. She spent the first 10 years of her solo practice as a consultant to large corporations such as Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab and Cisco Systems, where she worked with thousands of employees, managers and executives. In 2005, she started the Escape from Cubicle Nation blog,which led to coaching thousands of budding entrepreneurs, in businesses ranging from martial art studios to software start ups. Her first book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, won Best Small Business/Entrepreneur Book of 2009. Her latest book, Body of Work, was released with Penguin Portfolio in January 2014. Pam opened the Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, Arizona in 2016, where she works with diverse entrepreneurs to solve core business challenges and generates stories, research and insight for companies and organizations who serve them.


Tomas J. Stanton is a poet, teaching artist, and community engagement specialist. Tomás is dedicated to advancing the art of creativity as a platform for youth development, civic engagement, & social transformation. Co-Founder of Phoenix’s premiere literary arts and youth development organization, Phonetic Spit, Tomás uses critical pedagogy to inspire young and emerging adults to boldly express themselves – from the margins to the core. His work and teaching style are rooted in his experiences of learning to unlearn the pitfalls of poverty, violence, privilege, and hyper-masculinity through a lens of intersectionality.


Tiara Cash comes to Center for Mindfulness, Compassion, and Resilience as an alumni of Arizona State University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in Exercise and Wellness and a Master’s degree from Western Illinois University in Kinesiology. With a background in wellness management and exercise and sport psychology, her vision with Center is to engage ASU and the surrounding community in life-long learning and personal development with an emphasis on mindful practices and a true focus on connection through compassion. Research interests include educational leadership, phenomena of transitions, and resiliency training. Career focuses include leadership & self- sustainability in university settings, delving into the intersections of mindfulness and equity with a concentration on social justice, student-athlete retirement resilience training, and mindful performance art. With her background, her ultimate goal is to create a culture of connection through innovative programming with workshops, trainings, and events.



Amanda Garbade is a Certified Clinical Hypnotist, Life Coach, and Holistic Wellness Practitioner certified through the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association, American Council of Hypnotist Examiners, and Southwest Institute of Healing Arts where she received her Associates in Mind-Body Transformational Psychology.  Amanda also holds a BBA in Accounting, an MBA in Global Management, and is a doctoral candidate focusing on emotional intelligence and mindful leadership.  Specializing in the mind-body connection, Amanda customizes programs to facilitate awareness, healing, transformation, mindful leadership, and collaboration by helping people recognize their own power and the power of others to drive success.  Believing in the foundation of mindfulness, Amanda teaches people to live mindfully and to use and expand their inner resources to not only solve inner conflict but to remove blocks and barriers to connecting with other people, moving from me power to being empowered.  Amanda’s goal is to not just help people manage interactions with others, but to help people build stronger relationships so that they increase their sphere of influence to get more of what they want and less of what they don’t want.




How much does The Collective cost?

Are scholarships available?

Are there other financial aid options to support my participation?

Where can I get more information about the program?

How do I apply?

What is the time commitment and how long are the program days?

What is the schedule for The Collective?

What is the curriculum for The Collective?

Who will teach the classes?

Why the arts?

How are the sessions structured?

Tell me more about the retreat.

Tell me more about the final projects.

What happens after the program concludes?

What is the big, hairy, audacious goal of The Collective?


How much does The Collective cost?

Application fee is $25 and due at the time of submission. Tuition is $800 and is due in full by the first day of class, 2/1/2020.


Are scholarships available?

Yes. If you are seeking scholarship support, be sure to complete the scholarship need portion of the application.


Are there other financial aid options to support my participation?

Other grants and professional development funds may be available. Check with your employer and within your industry.

Arizona Commission on the Arts has a Professional Development Grant for which you may be eligible. Visit for more information.


Where can I get more information about the program?

Download the information packet which has more details about the program goals and what to expect. Still have questions? Email Jennifer Gastelum at


How do I apply?

Go to the application link, create a username and password to ensure your information is saved along the way, complete all questions, submit your application fee, hit submit, and then wait patiently for us to call you for your interview.


What is the time commitment and how long are the program days?

Session days are 4 hours long, starting at 9 AM every other Saturday beginning on January 26, 2019. There are art opportunities in between the session days which will have varying time-frames, and an overnight retreat that will take the majority of two days.


What is the schedule for The Collective?

Program Schedule for the 2020 cohort

 What is the curriculum for The Collective?

Session 1: Collaboration & Leadership 

Session 2: What is Leadership?

Session 3: What is Creativity?

Overnight Retreat: Creative Problem Solving

Session 4: Equitable Mindfulness

Session 5: Mindful Leadership

Session 6: How to Make My Vision a Reality


Who will teach the classes? 

Session 1: Tomas J. Stanton, Jennifer Gastelum, Dorian & Krissy Lenz 

Session 2: Pamela Slim

Session 3: Sogol Homayoun

Overnight Retreat: Stuart Seigel & Aaron Cooper

Session 4: Tiara Cash

Session 5: Amanda Garbade

Session 6: Dennis Gable & Ita Udo-Ema


Why the arts?

There is no shortage of blogs, articles, and studies that discuss the value of creative workers when it comes to productivity, innovation, and all around better business. One article asserts that creativity helps employees capitalize on complexity and is believed to be the most important leadership quality, another states that innovation is essential to competitive advantage, and are placing greater value on finding and employing creative workers (Ready to Innovate, 2007).


A global study by Adobe surveyed 5000 people and found a significant link between creativity and professional success, with the majority believing businesses that invest in creativity are more likely to foster innovation,  have happier employees and increased employee productivity (Why You Should be Investing in Creativity and Design, 2016).


We all know innovation is the future of our economy, but adding creativity to the equation is like having that extra cup of coffee in the morning -- it’s an amazing jolt that makes you feel unstoppable. Adding a creative lens to your professional training is not just thinking “outside the box.” It’s ripping it open, giving it a paint job and turning it into something better.     


How are the sessions structured?

Simply put, participants will experience an interactive setting, where the topics will be framed through arts practice and skills will be applied through a hands-on art project. Six half-day sessions focus on: understanding your preconceived ideas about leadership and creativity, learning from failure, gaining an understanding of the value of collaboration and creative problem solving, mindful activation, and how to implement projects thoughtfully. Local leaders who are uniquely qualified to share their experience with local initiatives will share insights and practical examples of how the arts can show up in your everyday practice.


Tell me more about the retreat.

An overnight retreat will take place between sessions three and four and will be a chance to get inspired about the work you can do in your own community before final projects are proposed. In essence, the retreat will provide an opportunity to further connect with personal goals, each other, and the larger community. The retreat will also encourage individual application of this work, how to make the arts work for you, how to apply leadership in your own way, and how to be creatively successful in your future work.


Tell me more about the final projects.

Participants will produce a final project which will be a culmination of lessons learned put into practice. Participants will develop their projects throughout the program and implement them in the two months following the last session. Final projects will be pitched in a 3-5 minute video due before the final graduation celebration. Check out videos of the 2019 cohort here


What happens after the program concludes?

The Collective will produce a network of local leaders who are tied together by shared experiences and the desire to continue making an impact in their community. The 2019 alumni have organized The Collective Alumni Committee and is identifying opportunities for mentorship, socials, and ongoing professional development. Our hope is that The Collective Network continues to grow and that the strength of this program comes from the alumni. 


What is the big, hairy, audacious goal of The Collective?

We are out to build a network of creative leaders who are equipped to use creative tools and leadership skills to impact social and cultural transformation.

Activities, events and resources for The Collective alumni will be posted here as available. 


Add your information to The Collective alumni directory


Not yet an alumni? Learn more and apply! Visit for complete information. 

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The Collective 2020 is generously supported by CORE Construction and Wells Fargo