Heather Meyer goes global!

Student Spotlight

MA in Sustainable Design student Heather Meyer was invited to participate in the Salzburg Young Cultural Innovators Forum this fall (see Heather’s profile here).  Here’s a Q&A about her experience.

Tell us what this Forum is all about.

The Salzburg Global Forum is a gathering of 55 creators from around the world. It is held yearly in Salzburg, Austria. The Forum is about global community building and skill sharing with people who are doing innovative creative and social work.

I understand that you were invited to this Forum — and had all expenses paid! That’s fantastic! Tell us how you learned about it and how you got invited.

I was one of the 55 fellows at the seminar, my fellowship was funded through the McKnight Foundation. I encouraged to apply by an artist I work with often, and did so then woke up one morning to an exciting email from Austria inviting me to come!

What did you do there?  

The largest emphasis was on networking with the creatives from across the world. It is a collaboratively focused forum, we did have some formal skills building lectures on creative leadership, fundraising and self-organization but also plenty of peer to peer mentoring, touring the sites of Salzburg and generating creative ideas with others. We put together a creative showcase to show off the variety of artistic disciplines, which I was the host of since my art from is performance-based as an improv artist.

This is a photo of me at the location of the seminar, the Schloss Leopoldskron,
the location where the forum is held and one of the filming locations of the movie The Sound of Music. 

What was your experience like? What were the big (or little) takeaways for you?

The biggest take-away for me was the similarities in challenges entrepreneurs, art-repreneurs and non-profits face when working with the arts, social change, advocacy and any combination of those. Globally funding is constantly a battle as well as non-financial resources such as managing employee/founder burnout and the best way for organizations to grow.

What do you think other people learned from you?

As an improv artist, my medium is uncertainty and ambiguity which is not the norm for more people and in fact creates a lot of stress in general. Since I am comfortable being uncomfortable I was able to use my improv exercises to help illustrate how to use the unexpected as an asset and not the view mistakes as negative feedback.

How is this related to what you are learning and doing in the MA in Sustainable Design program?

I am most passionate about creative leadership and building systems for sustainable human relationships within their employment. I was excited to have many discussions in the seminar about things like: burnout, self-organization and organizations that use their staff’s unique strengths to build a program.

If you want to join our global community of future leaders who will shape a better world, explore our fully online MA in Sustainable Design program! You’re also welcome to join our next informational webinar!

Denise DeLuca / Former Director

Denise DeLuca is the Director of MCAD’s Sustainable Design program. She was co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry Creative for Innovation, a network of creative professional change agents driving ecological thinking for radical transformation. Denise is author of the book Re-Aligning with Nature: Ecological Thinking for Radical Transformation, which was illustrated by MASD alum Stephanie Koehler. She also teaches with the Amani Institute.

Denise’s previous roles include Education Director for the International Living Future Institute, Project Manager for Swedish Biomimetics 3000, and Outreach Director for The Biomimicry Institute. Denise is a licensed civil engineer (PE) and holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a focus on modeling landscape-scale surface and groundwater interactions.  In addition, Denise is a Biomimicry Fellow and a member of the Advisory Council of The Biomimicry InstituteBoard Member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), on the editorial board of the Journal of Bionic Engineering, and an Expert with Katerva. Denise is based in Oregon.

contact:  [email protected]


Heather Meyer

Heather Meyer is a playwright, screenwriter, producer and director of the performing arts. She writes for television, screen, stage and Twitter. Currently, Heather is working on a screenplay and the casting and development manager for the National Theatre for Children in Minneapolis where she creates and produces live educational comedy shows for performance in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country. She completed a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Design from MCAD in 2011 and is currently pursuing an MA in Sustainable Design at MCAD. Heather is based in Minnesota.