The Collective

Creative Catalysts, an initiative of Mesa Arts Center, is launching 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.


Tell me more! 


So why creativity? Have you ever dipped a French fry in ice cream? It’s surprisingly great, right? (For those of you who have not, please stop reading and try it. We’ll wait.) Adding a creative lens to professional training sounds odd, but once you take that first bite – you understand the dynamic that’s been missing. And it’s wonderful! Let’s explore how the application of creativity goes together with impactful community leadership.


The breakdown:

  •  Accomplished leaders from a variety of different industries will facilitate learning and discussions.
  • Visual and performing artists will lead hands-on creative experiences.
  • Participation in community projects will exercise examples of theory in practice.
  • Final team 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.


Download all the details about this program HERE.


Download a one-page information sheet about this program HERE.

  • 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

Application Process:

October 1— Application portal OPENS

November 2 — Applications Due

November 15/16— Interviews for selected applicants

November 26 — Applicants notified of program acceptance

December 3 — Acceptance letters due/Tuition payments begin


January 17 - Meet your class and get social!


Mandatory participation includes the following:

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 - CC Brunch - February 16, 2019

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, 2019


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. Qualified applicants may then be selected for interviews to be conducted November 15th & 16th, and the announcement of program participants will be made November 26th.


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; applications are available October 1, 2018.


The deadline to apply for admission to the fall session is November 2, 2018. Tuition will not be reimbursed to applicants who for any reason cannot complete the program requirements.


*You 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.

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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.

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