John Maeda To Share His Infinite Wisdom With STL At COCAbiz's SPARK Creativity Conference

By Kelsey Waananen
In Culture

This September, COCAbiz will present its fourth annual creativity conference, SPARK, from 8am-6pm at COCA. The one-day conference on Sept. 2 will bring together innovative business leaders and teams to enhance creative thinking through hands-on art experiences, conversations led by both business strategists and teaching artists as well as keynote address from author, academic and designer John Maeda.


Photo courtesy of JD Lasica, Flickr Creative Commons

If you haven’t heard of John Maeda, he’s a bit of a big deal in leadership, art and design—making him an incredible asset to this conference. As a leader in the movement to transform STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Math) to STEAM, with the inclusion of art, Maeda brings the perspective of how to position creativity as a valuable tool in business, leadership and life.

Going from a designer and computer scientist to the president of the Rhode Island School of Design in 2008 pushed Maeda to learn leadership quickly and in a new way, which he explores in his book, “Redesigning Leadership.” With his background, Maeda’s creativity has revealed a new way to be a leader, a way that values creativity and risk-taking for leaders of the next generation.

Maeda’s thoughtfulness isn’t limited to his books and lectures (he’s given three TED talks); his Twitter feed possesses a wealth of good advice and wise sayings. Below, we’ve compiled a few gems as a sneak peek of what he’ll bring to SPARK:

SPARK encourages participants to seek risk and change as vehicles for empowering the people who surround them as well as themselves. Workshops will focus on improving leadership, collaboration, communication and ideation.

Afternoon breakout sessions, designed to catapult the understanding of how to make adaptive change real within existing organizations, will feature 15 of St. Louis’ prominent innovators, including Donn Rubin, President and CEO of BioSTL; Felicia Shaw, Executive Director of Regional Arts Commission and ALIVE and EQ’s cofounder and Chief Creative Officer, Kelly Hamilton.

To learn more about SPARK, visit

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