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.
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 2022? 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!).
Mesa United Way
Mesa Fire and Medical Department
Scottsdale Interior Design Group
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix
Mesa Community College
Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix
Harmony Project Phoenix
Cultural Coalition, Inc.
Mountain Park Health Center
Rebecca Murphy Keith
Benedictine University Mesa
DMB Community Life
Thunderbird School of Global Management
Alhambra Elementary School District
Arizona's Children Association
Anderson Family Dentistry
Arizona State University
Maricopa County Justice Courts
Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona
University of Phoenix
Kimberly Crowther Miller
Eastmark at DMB Community Life, Inc
Molly W. Schenck
Freelance Artist and Educator
Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation
Arizona Public Service (APS)
Town of Gilbert, Arizona
Videos describing the final projects of the 2019 cohort of The Collective can be viewed here.
Alumni Final Project Videos
Videos describing the final projects of the 2019 cohort of The Collective can be viewed here.
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!
The Big Picture
Estimated total hours
Ideal candidates may have:
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.
We are offering tuition at a reduced cost of $500 for the 2021 cohort, in consideration of the current climate and in order for the program to remain accessible during this time. We know that 2020 has been challenging for many of our community members, and this is our effort to ensure this Professional Development is available despite the unprecedented struggles 2020 has presented.
Tuition is due in full by the first day of class. 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.
Tomas J. Stanton & Jennifer Gastelum – Lead Facilitators
Dorian & Krissy Lenz – Collaboration & Design Leadership
Pamela Slim & April Tinhorn - What is Leadership?
Sogol Homayoun - What is Creativity?
Tiara Cash - Equitable Mindfulness
Jennifer Gastelum & Sogol Homayoun – Mindful Leadership
Dennis Gable - Research-Purpose-Name-Impact
Ita Udo-Ema & Tomas J. Stanton – Storytelling and Videography 101
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.
Dorian Lenz is the Director of NCT Phoenix. He previously enjoyed a successful career as Director of National Comedy Theatre San Diego; San Diego’s longest running comedy show. Dorian began performing improv comedy as a young teenager and now has more than 20 years of performance experience under his belt. Dorian has been teaching professional improvisers, workshop classes and high school improv leagues for more than 15 years. Dorian has performed across the country and all over the world, including performing overseas in Germany, Holland and Belgium for US Troops with Armed Forces Entertainment, as well as countless corporate and special events all over the United States.
Krissy Lenz is the Creative Director of National Comedy Theatre Phoenix. Krissy has more than 20 years of performance experience and training as well as more than 10 years of teaching and directing. Krissy also teaches improv comedy workshops for adults, teens and kids. She coaches and administers the very awesome and successful AZ High School Improv League, and presents Team Building Experiences and private workshops as well as performing in many Corporate Remote Shows. Krissy can be seen on 3TVs Your Life Arizona (azfamily.com) as the Guru of Geekery, presenting geeky takes on everyday life. And check out her podcast network Most Excellent Pod (mostexcellentpod.com) where she can be heard as the host of the Most Excellent 80s Movies Podcast and Gank that Drank: A Supernatural Drinking Game Podcast and WHOA: A Most Excellent Keanu Reeves Podcast. Besides doing all of that? Krissy is the proud mama of two adorable youngsters.
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.
April Tinhorn’s (Hualapai/Navajo/Chinese) childhood curiosity about a video game led her to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in computer science, inspiring her to help others at the National Security Agency, IBM, and Indian Health Service. In 2010, April created TINHORN CONSULTING, LLC, where she helps clients disrupt perceptions about Indigenous People via media. Through cultural marketing and training services, she has helped the Tohono O’odham Nation, San Carlos Apache Tribe, and Gila River Indian Community connect with others by creating websites and marketing strategies. The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona (AICCAz) recognized Tinhorn Consulting as the “2017 American Indian Business of the Year”. April has earned numerous professional recognitions and achievements including being honored as the “2018 Arizona State University Native American Alumni of the Year,” a Native American “40 Under 40” honoree,an adjunct faculty at Mira Costa College, Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassador Leadership Program alumna, Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority Beta Kappa Chapter alumna, and a former title holder of the Miss Indian Arizona Teen, Miss Hualapai and Miss Indian Arizona State University Pageants. April is most joyful when experiencing life with her husband, Sam Bender, Jr., and her daughter, Zoey Bear.
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.
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.
Jennifer Gastelum is a local resident and Mesa native. She studied Psychology and Community Counseling before stumbling into her role as the Community Engagement Specialist at Mesa Arts Center. Jennifer has worked for over five years researching and exploring the effective use of art as a community and economic development tool. She uses collaboration and kindness to bring together her passion for community and the arts to make positive change.
Ita Udo-Ema has been creating digital media for the past 15 years. With a degree in computer animation from the Art Institute of Phoenix, Ita has co-produced three independent feature-length films, two network affiliate television programs and published over 200 online videos. In 2005, Ita founded the media studio, View from Above Entertainment and works as an above-the-line video producer.
Dennis Gable "You wouldn’t believe my story if I told you myself. I’m grateful to be where I am in life. I have 2 beautiful children: Nevaeh
& Nehemiah. I’m an Arizonian. The first time I remember consulting on a brand was in 1998. My 20’s were spent as a creative entrepreneur and public speaker. I studied Commercial Graphic Design @ Nossi College of Art. Now I’m a progressive voice in both the creative and mental health spaces."
Application fee is $25 and due at the time of submission. Tuition is $500 and is due in full by the first day of class.
Yes. If you are seeking scholarship support, be sure to complete the scholarship need portion of the application.
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 www.azarts.gov for more information.
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.
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.
Session 1: Creative Collaboration & Design Thinking
Session 2: What is Leadership?
Session 3: What is Creativity?
Local Downtown Mesa Retreat
Session 4: Mindful Leadership
Session 5: Equitable Mindfulness
Session 6: Storytelling and Videography 101
Session 1: Tomas J. Stanton, Sogol Homayoun, Dorian & Krissy Lenz
Session 2: Pamela Slim, April Tinhorn
Session 3: Sogol Homayoun, Dennis Gable
Overnight Retreat: Stuart Seigel & Aaron Cooper
Session 4: Sogol Homayoun, Jennifer Gastelum
Session 5: Tiara Cash
Session 6: Ita Udo-Ema, Tomas J Stanton
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The Collective 2020 is generously supported by CORE Construction and Wells Fargo