Practices for Change Fellowship

Practices for Change Fellowship is a program of the National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation, funded in part by an Our Town/Knowledge Building Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The fellowship supports seven individuals with field experience exploring and implementing arts, culture and design-based practices focused on equitable community development in non-arts systems.

The selected national fellows work within systems such as health, justice, sustainability, housing, planning, and community development. During the year-long program, fellows will work in tandem with ASU faculty and staff as well as mentors with Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP), to expand their own practical work and document practice and policy learnings from their real-life experiences. 

Practices for Change is intended as a peer cohort, so that ASU, the NEA and other partners working in the field can better understand what it means to support the work that happens between artists/designers and community systems. Through the fellowship, we hope to make visible this critical interstitial work that happens in community systems and creative placemaking and to expand this field of practice. The fellows will document their work and contribute to case studies, a podcast and a national convening in 2020 where they will connect with others working in the “middle ground” between artistic practice and public policy.

Announcing the 2019-2020 Fellows

Pamela Bridgeforth

Pamela Bridgeforth

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  

Pamela Bridgeforth, director of programs for the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, oversees PACDC’s Member Services programs and launched its Community Development Leadership Institute, which serves as a training and technical assistance umbrella for the association’s 130 organizations and other practitioners working to advance equitable neighborhood revitalization. In addition to leading the creation of two placemaking initiatives (The Third Space Initiative and Art-Powered Places) in collaboration with member organizations, artists, arts organizations and community groups, she convenes learning sessions and workshops on placemaking for the sector and produced a placemaking toolkit featured as part of the 2018 edition of PACDC Magazine: Art, Equity + Place: Creating Neighborhood Health, Happiness, and Well-Being with Art. Prior to joining PACDC, she served as executive director of the Walt Whitman Arts Center. She is an advisor and board member of the Camden Repertory Theatre.

Carrie Ann Christensen

Carrie Ann Christensen

St. Paul, Minnesota

Carrie Christensen’s work in design, planning, education and community engagement falls at the intersection of equity and the environment. With a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in urban studies from Stanford University, her cross-sector work combines facilitation, design thinking, community organizing, project management, data analysis, curation, planning and environmental design processes. Christensen is a published author, an adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota, a 2001 Fulbright Scholar and a 2010 Creative Community Leadership Institute Fellow. She combines facilitation, creative expression and qualitative data methods to bring diverse community voices into planning and design. Christensen is a senior planner at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, where she works on park policy, design and community engagement. 

Melissa Liu

Melissa Liu

Brooklyn, New York

Melissa Liu has worked at the intersections of art, culture and education over the past decade and is currently interested in intersecting these areas to support non-profit services for New York's Chinatown community as program site director with Immigrant Social Services, Inc. Liu has advocated for people of color and immigrants from different class backgrounds and abilities as an administrative worker, organizer and artist through collaborating with groups and networks including Admin, Zines4Equity, Museum Hue and Occupy Wall Street Arts and Labor. Liu's experience comes from having supported programs, projects and workshops with the Getty Foundation, Hammer and Fowler Museums at UCLA, Columbia University (School of the Arts, Center for Oral History and Business School), College Arts Association, Kelly Street Community Garden in the Bronx, The Laundromat Project, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities and Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Ruby López Harper

Ruby Lopez Harper

Washington, D.C.

Mexican, mother, wife, dancer, photographer, poet and social justice warrior: Ruby López Harper is the director of Local Arts Services for Americans for the Arts. She is the co-chair for the National Coalition on Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response, serves as chair of the Gard Foundation, serves on the board for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County and serves on the WETA Community Advisory Council. Harper’s work has focused on grantmaking, supporting individual artists, community development, economic development and tourism and public art. She draws on a varied background that includes corporate affairs, marketing and communications and business administration. She served on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts and was the primary contact for the Arts and Economic Impact Study for Central Ohio. She is a 2017 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Advocacy Leadership Institute Fellow and Class of 2017 American Express Leadership Academy Alum. 

Rukhsana Nezam

Mallory Rukhsana Nezam

Oakland, California 

Rukhsana Nezam is a public artist and urban strategist integrating community development, socially-engaged art and urban planning. She works with government entities, grassroots cultural organizations and artists to bring arts and equity into community planning, and has helped developed arts programs at Smart Growth America, PolicyLink and Metropolitan Area Planning Council. As an artist and cultural producer, she uses performance and play in public spaces to disarm and connect. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, she is the founder of St. Louis Improv Anywhere, and involved in many artworks and interventions as an artist and activist after the death of Mike Brown, in Ferguson. Nezam’s research focuses on the racial equity impacts of artist residencies in local government. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard University in art, design and the public domain.

Tara Mei Smith

Tara Mei Smith

New York, New York 

Tara Mei Smith is passionate about creating and supporting sustainable and equitable frameworks so that people and places can thrive for generations to come. She has over 12 years of experience working on innovative, catalytic projects. Her background includes work as a womenswear designer and supply chain manager (as part of Proenza Schouler’s CFDA award-winning team and as head designer at Waitex), as a sustainability consultant at Field Guide and as a community planner and environmental stewardship director at Extra Terrestrial Projects. She has organized thought leadership convenings such as Moat Oracle’s inaugural summit on the future of digital attention, and The Untokening Durham mobility conference. Recently she worked with a coalition of artists and community members to create a place-based equitable engagement blueprint for all future projects in Durham, NC. Her academic training is in materials chemistry and urban studies at Brown University and fashion design at F.I.T. She is an Audubon Toyota Conservation Innovation Fellow and Next City Vanguard.

Nella Young

Nella Young

Boston, Massachusetts

Nella Young is a senior program director at Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit in housing and community development. With a background in experiential education and asset-based planning, Young is interested in how creative expression can be harnessed as a force for greater social cohesion, resilience and equity. Young is a champion for the integration of culture and creativity into community development and is responsible for launching two influential grant programs at Enterprise: Collaborative Actions and Climate and Cultural Resilience. She is part of Enterprise’s efforts to take an increasingly holistic, place-based approach to community development that puts residents, and their culture, at the center. Young holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, where she majored in studio arts. 


July 2019
Program Launch

Fellows will visit sunny Tempe, AZ for framing workshops and cohort-building with ASU staff and Center for Performance and Civic Practice.

October/November 2019
ASU campus and community engagement

Fellows will make individual visits to Tempe/Phoenix for research specific engagement (with students, faculty, and staff) and partnership building. 

February/March 2020
ASU campus and community engagement

Fellows will make individual visits to Tempe/Phoenix for research specific engagement (with students, faculty, and staff) and partnership building.

May 2020
Program closing celebration

Celebrate each fellows’ progress at a program closing event including presentations, documentation, and public convening in Tempe/Phoenix.

More Information

For more information, please contact Estrella Esquilin at