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.


Twenty-three participants have been selected for the inaugural cohort. The Collective 2019 consists of leaders from a variety of industries and professions. The 12-week program will include applied learning sessions, art experiences and a final project. 


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.


Arianna Jones

Arizona's Children Association

comedy art activities Broadway Image

Azucena Gutierrez

Anderson Family Dentistry

arizona music mesa arts center Image

Brett Farkas


shows art activities performing arts Image

Caden Gillespie

Arizona State University

events Broadway theater Image

Deanna Reid


shows shows Broadway Image

Elaissa Sears

Maricopa County Justice Courts

dance art classes music Image

Jacob Bush


mesa arts center shows performing arts Image

Jenna Maley


family comedy theater Image

Jessie Bali

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona

mesa arts center art classes Broadway Image

Justine Sponder

University of Phoenix

events shows Broadway Image

Katie'B Jarvis

Childsplay Theatre

art gallery events dance Image

Keiona Eady


art activities shows events Image

Kimberly Crowther Miller

Eastmark at DMB Community Life, Inc

theater art activities music Image

Mawa Keita

Wells Fargo

shows arizona mesa arts center Image

Molly W. Schenck

Freelance Artist and Educator

music Broadway art activities Image

Monique Jones

Banner Health

art activities comedy music Image

Ruth Sager


art gallery art classes comedy Image

Ryan Sereduk

Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation

theater family art gallery Image

Stephanie Coombs


art gallery AZ concerts Image

Tiesha Harrison

Valley Leadership

arizona comedy concerts Image

Tyler Stalica

CORE Construction

performing arts theatre shows Image

Zane Ewton

Arizona Public Service (APS)

theater AZ Broadway Image

Zara Bish

Town of Gilbert, Arizona

AZ art activities music Image

The Collective 2019 is generously supported by CORE Construction and Crescent Crown Distributing.


  • 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.
AZ art gallery family Image

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.
dance mesa arts center art activities Image

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 $750 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. If you choose to attend The Moth art opportunity, you will be responsible for purchasing your ticket. All other art opportunities will be free.

performing arts theatre phoenix Image

Sogol Homayoun - What is Creativity?

Pamela Slim - What is Leadership?

Caress Russell - Fail Forward

Christian Adame - Creative Problem Solving

Tomas J. Stanton - Goal Mapping

Tiara Cash - Equitable Mindfulness

Nika Gueci - Mindful Leadership

Jeffrey Lazos Ferns - How to Make Your Vision a Reality


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.


Caress Russell has dedicated her life to the art of communication as both a poet and public speaker. Currently pursuing her MFA in Performance from ASU, she has designed performance workshops for Upward Bound, YMCA and served as Spoken Word Poetry Consultant for Iowa’s National Night Out. With her unique set of comedy, music, beatboxing and theatrics, she has toured over 150 Colleges and Universities with her solo show. In 2015 she served as Speech and Debate Fellow at Southern Methodist University and in 2017 was awarded Campus Activities Spoken Word Artist of the Year. Seen on BET at the 365 Black Awards and Season 4 of Verses and Flow on TvOne, Lady Caress is truly a dynamic performer.


Christian Adame is a museum educator with 15 years of diverse experience developing in-gallery interpretation, designing and managing public programs, and mobilizing diverse communities through outreach. He has held various positions at the California State Archives, The California Museum of Women, History, and the Arts, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, which underwent a major expansion in 2010. In 2011, he joined Phoenix Art Museum as Assistant Curator for Education. He is currently the Museum’s Assistant Education Director, acting as the liaison between the Education and Curatorial divisions. He manages museum-wide interpretation, accessibility, and public programs including Slow Art & Mindfulness and the Arts Engagement Program, for those experiencing dementia and their care partners. He is passionate about inclusive and intersectional practice, particularly with creative aging, Latinx, and LGBTQI communities.  


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.


Nika Gueci is the inaugural Executive Director for University Engagement at the Arizona State University Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience. Under her direction, Center advances an environment of well-being through the promotion of skills such as mindfulness and compassion to support lifelong resilience. Creating a culture where wellness is of vital importance to the development of human potential is her daily call to action.In her previous role, Nika served as Associate Director of the ASU Health Services Executive Team, leading ASU’s first Collegiate Recovery Program, Recovery Rising, where she scaled the support structures of students in recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. She developed curricula and was invited to provide policy recommendations on collegiate recovery to the Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. Nika is a doctoral candidate in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College Educational Leadership and Innovation program and will graduate in December. Her master’s degree is in Communication with an emphasis on religious identity from New Mexico State University. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Russian from Columbia University in the City of New York.


Jeffrey Lazos-Ferns a native Arizonan, entrepreneur, artist and cultural worker who provides leadership in business development, marketing, public relations, community partnerships, community relations and strategic planning for corporations, cultural institutions, museums, artists and individual clients. His foresight and long range planning skills has contributed to a significant growth in the regional, national touring and special events markets for clients. He brings a wealth of business administration and philanthropic expertise to his team that span from San Francisco to Arizona. A few of his endeavors included previous Managing Partner for Gregangelo & Velocity Arts & Entertainment of San Francisco, developing Tarra Lazos Creative a multi-cultural, multi-platform arts, special events and arts administration venture, his forte includes project management, special event production, grant writing,  producing annual fundraising galas, audience development, capacity building, PR/Communication.

phoenix art classes arizona Image

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 $750 and is due in full by the first day of class, 1/26/2019.


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?

You can download the information document on the website which has more details about the program goals and what to expect. If your questions have not been answered on the website, you can email Jennifer Gastelum at


How do I apply?

Go the 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 Day 1 – January 26, 2019

Arts Experience - The Moth - February 1, 2019

Arts Experience - Wordplay Cafe - February 7, 2019

Program Day 2 – February 9, 2019

Arts Experience - TBD

Program Day 3 – February 23, 2019

Team Gathering - March 2, 2019

Program Day 4 – March 9, 2019

Arts Experience - spark! Festival - March 16, 2019

Program Day 5 - March 23, 2019

Retreat Overnight - March 30, 2019

Program Day 6 – April 6, 2019

Program Completion Celebration and Final Project Presentations - June 6


What is the curriculum for The Collective?

Session 1: What is Leadership? & What is Creativity?

Session 2: Fail Forward

Session 3: Creative Problem Solving

Session 4: Goal Mapping

Session 5: Equitable Mindfulness

Session 6: How to Make My Vision a Reality


Who will teach the classes? 

Session 1: Pamela Slim & Sogol Homayoun

Session 2: Caress Russell

Session 3: Christian Adame

Session 4: Tomas Stanton

Session 5: Tiara Cash & Nika Gueci

Session 6: Jeffrey Lazos Ferns


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 during week 11 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 collaborate to produce a final project which will be a culmination of lessons learned put into practice. Projects will be individually identified, planned and implemented. Participants will develop their projects throughout the program and implement them in the two months following the last session. Final projects outcomes and learnings will be presented during the graduation celebration two months after the sessions conclude.


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. A volunteer social liaison from each cohort will be responsible for creating quarterly social opportunities, and will ultimately work with other graduating collective members to create and promote social gatherings, with the support of Mesa Arts Center’s Creative Catalysts.


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.