Joseph Benesh

Operations Manager
Phoenix Center for the Arts

Joseph is very honored to be the Operations Manager of the Phoenix Center for the Arts, which is in its 37th year of providing arts classes, programming and a theater for the community. He recently returned from NYC where he received his Master’s from NYU and managed the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center. In the nine months he’s been back he got married, secured his dream job at the Center, and a side job as adjunct professor at Estrella Mountain Community College. Before NYC he worked for and/or volunteered with: Phoenix Theatre, Theater Works, Keys Community Center, One Step Beyond, Stagebrush, Youth ETC, Next Step, Black Theatre Troupe and Childsplay.

Mike Campbell

Visual + Intent

Mike Campbell has over three decades of experience as a managing partner and creative director designing and implementing integrated marketing solutions for a wide range of industries such as: Utility Companies (APS), Professional Sports (Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns, Grand Junction Rockies), Financial (National Bank of Arizona), Entertainment, Tech, and many others. Mike is the co-founder of Campbell Fisher Design and is currently in his fifth year managing his newest venture Visual + Intent, a strategic and creative brand development company.

Emily Callaghan

Innovation CatalystJohnson Controls

Emily Callaghan is a designer, knowledge activist and Innovation Catalyst at Johnson Controls where she thrives on helping ideas and individuals grow into their greatness while developing business growth and creative culture. Her passion is giving voice to the individual experience and understanding those voices in order to develop powerful solutions. Callaghan has experience in design management as a professional, researcher and teacher. She has worked with clients to develop their voice through brand and product development, business strategy and customer experience. A 2009 Marie Curie Fellow, Callaghan studied knowledge sharing communities and creative culture across Europe and the U.S. Previous research focused on brainstorming performance and personality types (MBTI). She holds a MSD (Industrial Design) from Arizona State University and a BS (Journalism) from the University of Kansas and has participated in facilitator training with the Creative Problem Solving Institute.

James Carr

Design Consultant

I am an idealist with a passion for all things creative. I believe that simplicity is the most beautiful and most difficult thing to achieve. I am fascinated with the human condition. I believe that creativity is born of love. That love conquers fear, and without fear there is only joy.

A Phoenix resident since 1980, I’ve been designing interactive media since 1992. Most of my experience has been in the fortune 500/global hospitality sector working with such clients as Starwood Hotels, Wyndham Hotel Group, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, Bellagio, The Venetian and Pegagsus Solutions.

In addition to design, I’ve also worked in the CTO capacity and have extensive experience in business analysis, requirements engineering and project management. I am currently working as an independent design consultant and am engaged in a number of design-related entrepreneurial ventures.

When not working, I spend most of my time with my wife and young son. I enjoy playing music, cycling, photography and reading just about anything that piques my interest.

The thing I enjoy most about working in a creative capacity is the ability to draw on all life’s experiences. As an artist, everything matters – every moment, every person, every success and every failure. They all serve to teach us and to make us grow.

Tamara Christensen

Portigal Consulting

Tamara Christensen is a consultant with Portigal Consulting. For over a decade Tamara has worked at the intersections of research, design and facilitation. She has generated insights with consumers who love soft drinks, wear contact lenses, compute with multiple monitors, and rely on generator power. In her graduate studies at Arizona State University, she explored how research can fuel designers and engineers at key points in the product development process. Tamara has trained ideation teams at both corporate and academic workshops. She is a sought-after speaker, teaching design research at leading industry conferences and schools such as University of Kansas and Arizona State University. Tamara is happiest when traveling and talking to strangers.

Crystal Cruz

Associate Director of Recruitment
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Crystal Cruz attended the Colorado College and majored in International Political Science. She joined Teach For America in 2005 and taught in the Isaac School District where she later became an instructional coach. In 2007, she graduated from ASU with a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision and also obtained a principal certificate. In 2010, she began working as a recruiter for the Sanford Education Project in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She will serve as the Associate Director of Recruitment for the project for 2012-2013. She is currently in her second year of the Doctoral Program in Leadership and Innovation at ASU.

Bob Diehl


Did business-y things on and off for a long time. Bred horses for about 10 years. Published a literary magazine, the Voyeur, for 5 years; produced performance art; helped re-organize Artlink in the late ’90s, had an art gallery for 4 years; TEDx organizer, Hance Park Conservancy Board member, other fun stuff.

Michael Duah

Interaction Designer
Arizona State University

Michael makes things and thinks about them (not necessarily in that order).
He is studying interaction design with an emphasis in cognitive psychology (especially the fields of learning, persuasion, and motivation).
He was born in Phoenix and he gives a damn.
He also loves Michelle.

Michelle Duah

MSD candidate,
Interaction Design, ASU

I have lived in Phoenix my entire life, and I am currently in the graduate program at ASU studying Interaction Design. Throughout my studies I have really had fun learning about how the brain works, how we learn, motivation, and design research methods. I am thoroughly excited to work with a diverse group and apply this knowledge to new domains, especially in my own backyard.

Greg Esser

Desert Initiative Director, ASU Art Museum, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Greg Esser is currently the Desert Initiative Director for ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, a program that seeks to link desert communities regionally and globally through interdisciplinary arts-based research and projects. He is a co-editor of ARID, a new on-line journal exploring desert art, design and ecology. He has directed three of the largest municipal public art programs in the United States: the City and County of Denver (1991-1996), the City of Phoenix (1996-2004) and Los Angeles County (2009-2011). He also worked at the national level as Public Art Manager for Americans for the Arts in Washington, D.C. (2004-2006). He is the founder and former executive director of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization focused on community revitalization through the arts and culture in downtown Phoenix where he also established several contemporary art venues and businesses including eye lounge gallery, 515 gallery, MADE art boutique and Sixth Street Studios.

Marvin Forte


Marvin has been designing for print since 1988 and for the Web since 1998. His award-winning design skills have bolstered projects for Microsoft, Major League Baseball, The San Francisco Giants, The Nature Conservancy, Aeromist, The Scottsdale Charros and Jim Nasi Customs.

His forte is graphic design, information architecture and project management. He specializes in creative, intuitive design that’s simple and elegant.

In 2008, he founded Bravoforté, specializing in web design, print design and branding.

Outside of the office, he shares time with his second love, music. He loves hiking, good food and bad science fiction.

Joshua Gallagher


I am an East Coast transplant currently living in the Southwest, having recently graduated from the Visual Communication Design program at Arizona State University. Elegant simplicity is something that intrigues me. As a young designer I understand the importance of nourishing a heightened sense of awareness.

Nikki Gusz

Special Assitant to the Dean for Projects, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Nikki works at Arizona State University on advancing innovation, connecting individuals and synthesizing information for initiatives occurring across the Phoenix metro region. In working with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, she has served as a Special Assistant to the Dean for Projects and Interim Co-Executive Director of the Sanford Education Project. Also at ASU, she has worked in the Office of University Initiatives supporting entrepreneurship and education initiatives. Previously, Nikki taught secondary social studies in the Mesa Public Schools through Teach For America. She earned her Masters of Education from ASU and Bachelors of Arts at Cornell University in American Studies.

James Hersick

Rocketfuel Design

James Hersick is a mulit-discipline designer, strategist, illustrator and photographer. He is president and creative director of RocketFuel Design Company, President and Strategist at Equilibrium and president of the AIGA Blue Ridge Chapter.

RocketFuel is an award-winning design firm that tells stories about people, products and services that improve the quality of the human experience. At Rocketfuel, James has worked with a variety of clients including AOL, Capital One, Education Week, Marriott, the University of Maryland Medical System and others.

He believes passionately in using design to make a difference in communities.

Bridget Jones

Teach For America

Bridget is currently the Field Director for the Aspiring Leaders Fellowship. The Fellowship—a partnership between the Arizona Charter Schools Association, Arizona Department of Education, and Teach For America—aims to develop and prepare our most talented education leaders to open high performing charter schools in Arizona’s highest needs communities. Bridget’s professional background also includes work in advocacy and operations. She began her education career as a 2005 Phoenix corps member with Teach For America, teaching 4th grade in the Littleton Elementary School District. A Cleveland native, Bridget loves the sunshine and hiking in Arizona and now considers Phoenix her home. She is currently a candidate for an M.A. in Education Administration and Supervision and earned her B.S. in Psychology from Denison University.

Aaron Kimberlin

Assistant Director Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory

A Valley native and Central Phoenix resident, Aaron holds a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in Design – Major in Housing and Urban Design; a Master’s of Urban Planning and Policy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs where his master’s capstone, Goose Island 2024: Industrial Reprogram explored alternative mixed-use patterns and green design methods that focused on advancing industrial sustainability uses on a social and economic level. Kimberlin’s heart lies in redeveloping downtown Phoenix through urban infill, historic preservation and adaptive reuse. His redevelopment efforts have been recognized by becoming a finalist in a national design competition Smart/Cool 2011: The 7th Annual Smallest Coolest Home Contest that focused on small living and innovative space design. In addition, Kimberlin created the inaugural Phoenix Urban Design Week during April 9-13, 2012 that showcased the importance of urban design as an essential ingredient of economic growth, sustainability, and community empowerment in Phoenix.

Lindsay Kinkade

Principal + Creative Director, Little Giant Design Studio

Lindsay Kinkade is a public artist, community-based designer, teacher, and documentary journalist. She is the Principal and Creative Director of Little Giant Studio, a design firm that builds tools for public dialogue on public issues. A former visual journalist at The Boston Globe, Lindsay brings an ethical framework and research rigor to every project. A RISD MFA grad, she brings a love of collaboration and a deep commitment to the highest levels of design craft to public work.

Lindsay maximizes possibilities by drawing on her hybrid training to facilitate a robust dialogue in the public sphere. Her work includes facilitation, communication design, the design of participatory systems, and interactive exhibitions that build community in the most open-source way possible. She is the founding Design + Communication Coordinator for NSF EPSCoR at RISD, a climate change design research project in the state of Rhode Island and is a co-founder of the new urban design collaborative, Assembly Required. Lindsay is an adjunct faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design where she teaches Making It Understandable, a public policy + design course that she loves talking about on campuses and at conferences near and far.

Mary Lane

Principal/ Creative Director at ML Design

Mary Lane is an Atlanta native, turned Arizonan. A graduate of the Computational Media Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she has a love for the digital and is a passionate user advocate with a broad background including graphic & web design, programming, usability testing and user research. When Mary’s not working she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the plentiful hiking trails in Phoenix, wrangling her two cats (Blue & Quinn), and day-dreaming about letterpress machines.

Kyle Larkin

Faculty at The Design School at ASU

Kyle Larkin is a Visual Communication Design faculty member for The Design School at ASU. He holds a Bachelor’s of Architecture and a Master’s in Interaction Design. Kyle’s research interests are focused on the intersection of technology and the human experience. When he’s not renovating his mid-century modern home, he’s pushing pixels or pulling shots of espresso.

Taz Loomans

Principal at Blooming Rock Development LLC

Taz Loomans is a licensed architect who is the principal at a small development company called Blooming Rock Development. She has redeveloped and renovated two multifamily projects in Central Phoenix and was the architect for Filmbar Phoenix. She is also a writer and publishes the award-winning Blooming Rock blog which focuses on urbanism, sustainability and architecture. Taz writes for other publications as well, including Modern Phoenix, the Firefly Living blog, Arizona Community Contractor magazine and the Atlantic Cities. Along with being involved in a variety of community-building projects, she partners with Women Design Arizona to curate and organize the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series that brings together experts and the community to talk about how to make Phoenix a more sustainable city.

Jim McPherson

Senior Associate, HRA Analysts, Inc.

Jim McPherson currently serves as Senior Associate for HRA Analysts, Inc., a Phoenix-based consulting firm specializing in health care policy, research, and organizational effectiveness. Jim previously spent five years at the Flinn Foundation, here in Phoenix, and before that held corporate public affairs leadership positions for two Fortune 500 companies. Jim serves on the boards of several local and statewide groups, including the Arizona Preservation Foundation, Arizona Heritage Alliance, The Arizona Partnership for Immunization, and Downtown Voices Coalition. Jim received his bachelor’s degree from Miami University and masters from Ohio State University, both in Public Administration.

Nina Miller

Interaction Design, ASU Engineering &
Improvisor, The Torch Theatre

Nina Miller is an interaction designer for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Her group is officially charged with making engineering fun, and she takes that very seriously. Nina is about to finish her MSD in Interaction Design this fall, completing an applied project exploring improvisation as part of the collaborative design process. She has taught design principle courses in the ASU Visual Communications program.

In addition to being a designer, Nina has been an actor and performer in Phoenix for over 15 years. Stage credits include “Bettina Barnes” in Psycho Beach Party, “Anna” in Closer and “Una” in Blackbird. She currently is a board member, instructor and performer at the only theatre in Arizona dedicated to longform improvisation, The Torch Theatre, and is proud to be part of the dedicated and rich creative culture in Phoenix. She is very enthusiastic about almost everything.

Kathy Morgan

President/Creative Director, Morgan and Company

Kathy Morgan is co-founder and creative director of Morgan and Company, a Phoenix graphic design firm celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The firm primarily handles brand management, print collateral, instructional materials, direct mail and environmental design for clients in the telecommunications, credit union, elder care and biotech industries. Kathy also serves as Treasurer of the Arizona Chapter of the AIGA.

Jim Nissen

President + Creative Director Switch Studio

Jim Nissen is President and Creative Director of SW!TCH studio a creative services firm specializing in publication design and branding with offices in Phoenix and New York. In 19 years SW!TCH studio has designed over 85 different titles, producing over 1,000 issues for 65 publishers nationwide for clients such as Amnesty International, REI and the PGA tour. Jim sits on the executive board of the Arizona AIGA, is a member of the Phoenix Art Institute Professional Advisory Committee and member of the Society of Publication Designers in New York. He speaks regularly to student and professional groups on the subjects of Creativity in the workplace, Inspiration for designers, and Magazine production.

Kris Olmon

Second in Command, Switch Studio

Passionate. Humble. Hard Worker. Creative. Professional. Thinker. Observer. Communicator. Doer. Teammate. Loyal. Designer. The Man. Kris Olmon

Marc Oxborrow

Design Director, McMurry

Marc Oxborrow has been obsessed with signs, symbols, letters and codes ever since he was an undersized choirboy growing up in Mexico City. He spent hours reading the encyclopedia, lingering on the anatomical overlays of frogs and the brightly colored pages of the world’s flags.

As an 8th-grade malcontent Marc formed United Students Against Teachers, a grassroots organization with its own logo and newsletter. Is it any wonder that he emerged years later as an award-winning magazine art director and certified type geek? His interest in music runs equally deep, reflecting a childhood filled with top-40 radio, church services, and the cacophony of car radios in Puerto Rico and New York City.

These days, Marc provides design leadership at McMurry, a marketing communications company with offices in Phoenix and New York. He has received awards from AIGA, Print magazine, the Western Publishers Association, and others. Marc has launched and redesigned dozens of magazines and is a regular presenter and judge at design events. Despite his advanced age, he plays bass in two local bands and can occasionally be seen riding one of the Valley’s many skateboard parks (he’s the one wearing a helmet).

Jenny Poon

eeko studio, design studio + CO+HOOTS coworking

Jenny Poon is founder of two Phoenix businesses. eeko studio, a boutique design studio focusing on working with not-just-for-profit businesses and CO+HOOTS, a coworking space, She is hell-bent on using design to make a real, positive impact in Arizona.

Safwat Saleem

ASU College of Technology & Innovation

Safwat Saleem is a graphic designer, filmmaker and artist based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has worked in higher ed for over seven years and enjoys collaborating with local organizations. His previous work includes a silly short film about a day in the life of a lonely bear and an angry political exhibit that no one liked. He is currently working on a series of prints titled Sunken Ships & Stalled Careers.

Laine Seaton

Executive Director, Environmental Fund for Arizona

A native of Hanover, New Hampshire, Laine Seaton has worked in the fields of publishing and nonprofit for nearly twenty years. Her recent background includes serving as an Account Executive for the Grizzard Agency in Los Angeles, and as a Development Manager for the Sonoran Institute. Since 2009, she has led the Environmental Fund for Arizona (EFAZ) as its Executive Director. EFAZ is a statewide alliance of 28 environmental & conservation nonprofits which serves to raise awareness, engagement, and additional financial support for the wide variety of environmental causes in Arizona.

Sarah Stephan

Managing Director & Senior VP, Pyramid Communications

In her role as Managing Director and Senior Vice President at Pyramid Communications, Sarah serves as lead strategist on many health and wellbeing, education, and human service initiatives. She specializes in guiding groups through strategic planning processes to help organizations define and maximize their impact. This often involves developing communications strategies that connect and move people to action, creating distinctive brands and helping organizations tell their stories through a variety of digital and traditional mediums.

Her current and past clients include AARP, Mercy Corps, Chalkboard Project, Oregon Health & Science University, and Meyer Memorial Trust.

In addition to setting strategy, Sarah leads firm-wide business development across Pyramid’s five core practice areas, regionally and nationally: Health & Wellbeing, Education, Energy & Environment, Native/Tribal Communities, and Arts & Culture.

Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Carleton College, where former political science professor Paul Wellstone served as her advisor prior to his election to the U.S. Senate.

Nicole Stumphauzer

Graphic Designer

I’m originally from Cleveland. I love the integration of design + illustration. I like rock music, laughing, and traveling to new places.

Lauren Tassiello


I am a dreamer, idea-generator, and maximizer that is passionate about company culture and people development. I’m a yogi, I like to sweat, and I love to laugh.

Patricia Tompkins

Design Director, Splinter Creative

Patricia grew up in Phoenix and graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Visual Communications. She is currently the Design Director at Splinter Creative, where she leads a small team of creatives in a direction that supports innovative thinking and creative risk-taking.

Chris Toward

President, Philanthropy Squared

Chris Toward is the CEO of Philanthropy Squared, the company he started to help local, national and international organizations achieve great results through social business, community strategy, and communications. A Phoenix native, Chris has lived and worked in San Diego, Washington, DC, Paris and New York, where he ran one of the city’s largest disaster recovery programs after 9/11. His previous experience included work at the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Jennifer Casap Vollman

New Global Citizens

Jennifer Casap Vollmann is the Executive Director for New Global Citizens. New Global Citizens inspires and prepares youth in Elementary, Middle and High Schools across the country to become engaged global citizens, equipped to take on their role as leaders and change agents. New Global Citizens equips young people with global competencies, 21st century skills, and experiential learning in leadership, community organizing and use of social media/technology. As Executive, Jennifer is responsible for overseeing the New Global Citizens program, international partnerships, working with educators and youth and expanding the New Global Citizens program across Arizona and the country. Before joining New Global Citizens, Jennifer lived and worked with several non-profit organizations in Kenya, and has traveled and volunteered extensively through Africa, Central America, South and Southeast Asia. Jennifer graduated from Santa Clara University and is proud to be born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.

Peter Wolf

Arizona State University

Peter J. Wolf is a lecturer in The Design School at Arizona State University, where he teaches courses in product design, visual communication design, and qualitative research methods. Peter is also the founder of Vox Felina, an advocacy blog featuring in-depth analysis of science and policy issues related to the management of free-roaming cats. In just two years, Vox Felina has attracted a devoted audience of feral cat advocates and become an invaluable resource for journalists, including writers from Animal People, Conservation magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washingtonian. Peter will be speaking at this year’s No Kill Conference and No More Homeless Pets Conference.