We are designers, strategists, and facilitators who help people come together and solve complex problems. We are passionate but patient, methodical yet creative—and your coaches, advisors, partners, and team members all at once.

We are specialists in collaboration and getting things done, especially the tough stuff. We bring the questions, frameworks, tools and skills to help you bring people together to solve the world's toughest, most intractable challenges. More importantly, we give you all that we have (literally) and build your team's capacity to lead change on the tough challenges too.


Russ Gaskin of CoCreative

Strategy, Process Design, Training & Facilitation

Russ helps people who don’t know each other, and often don’t even like each other, solve complex problems together. His unique strength is creating the conditions and frameworks that support efficient and meaningful collaboration across deep sectoral and cultural boundaries.


Russ also builds the capacities of others to lead effective collaboration by speaking and teaching around the world on changing complex systems, human-centered design, and leveraging conflict and diversity as sources of strategic innovation. In his guest faculty role, he has taught workshops and graduate courses on leading social innovation, designing collective impact initiatives, polarity thinking, and creating shared value.

Issac Carter

Process Design, Facilitation, Training, Coaching

Issac is a Critical Educator, DEI Strategist & Coach, Leadership and Organizational Consultant, Certified EQ Practitioner, BIPOC Whisperer, Black Male Feminist, Organizer, and Musician. He leverages his expertise in strategy, leadership development, and inclusion and equity to help people understand, embrace, and leverage their differences to achieve outcomes that can't be achieved alone.


His training incorporates Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and Leadership Success, and Organizational Development. Collective knowledge production, emotional intelligence, cultural competency, and social justice action are core components of his teaching philosophy. Dr. Carter was one of two inaugural faculty members for the Terry Deal Leadership Institute, the renowned leadership expert, author, and international consultant. He co-designed and co-taught The Art of Leadership and Leadership and Culture courses.

Melissa Darnell of CoCreative

Human-centered Design, Facilitation, Training, Project Management

Melissa leads our expanding training program through recruitment, planning, and delivery. She also manages our digital marketing and social media outreach and engagement and conducts stakeholder research for special projects.

decades of experience in facilitation, deepening community engagement, and campaign management


Specializing in relationship building as a vehicle to bring about positive social outcomes, Melissa brings over two decades of experience in facilitation, deepening community engagement and campaign management to her work.. She is passionate about strengths-based interventions that build upon individuals' unique social and cultural assets as a strategy to solve complex social problems.  

Heather Equinoss of CoCreative

P​rocess Design, Facilitation, Training, Graphic Facilitation

Heather Equinoss is a collaboration doula, consultant, and visual facilitator whose work is in service to a simple core belief: that the health and wellbeing of people are inextricably connected to one another and the planet that sustains us.

Heather brings 16 years of meeting design, graphic facilitation, project management and community engagement experience in public, non-profit, private, and community settings. She finds purpose in supporting people and organizations to bring about the positive change they envision in their communities and the world we live in.

Luzette Jaimes

P​rocess Design, Facilitation, Training

Luzette works on social ecosystem activation and system change through the design and facilitation of transformational learning processes. She works in the areas of human development, being-well, and awareness-based leadership development for changemakers.

For two decades she has focused on social entrepreneurship through different roles at Ashoka, including launching Ashoka’s Learning & Development to deepen an organizational learning culture in support of their vision of accelerating the emergence of an “Everyone a Changemaker” world.

Maren Maier

Human Insight Development, Research, Process Design

Maren is a design strategist, trainer, and researcher who builds partnerships for CoCreative and leads our learning and human insight development areas.

Maren is the founder and principal of Creative States, a multidimensional platform producing creative research, events and media to catalyze thoughtful provocations that explore the landscapes of tomorrow and who we might become. She trains and works with clients to develop scenarios and experiences that stimulate new ways of thinking imaginatively, legibly and critically about the future we want to create and live in.

Sharon Simms

P​rocess Design, Facilitation, Training

Sharon leverages her experience in curriculum development, program development, strategic planning, and training to advance meaningful collaboration among diverse stakeholders.


Sharon has 20 years of experience working in human/social services and has worked with the nonprofit sector for over 17 years. She has a passion for identifying ways to assist agencies in providing effective programs and services to their clientele. She has trained social workers, human services professionals, trainers, volunteers, and foster/resource parents throughout the State of Hawai‘i.



We are driven by our mission to create shared prosperity
    for current and future generations.

We prioritize impact, especially those most harmed by systems of oppression.

We are creative and dynamic in our methods and solutions.

We are methodical but we like to move fast.

We are human-centered and focused on the wisdom and experiences of real people.

We are efficient and cost-effective.

We are committed to systemic change, especially systems based in racial supremacy and economic growth that break the bonds among us and the natural world.

We are both humble and confident.

We are initiators, proactively creating networks to solve problems.

We are strategic; we know where to set the match to start a fire.

We are curious; we hold our assumptions as hypotheses and continually test them.

We are cheeky and love to work, have fun, and laugh with others.



We believe that the toughest problems we face in our communities, countries, and the world can only truly be solved when people come together across their differences and create the solutions together, with the people most negatively impacted by the system at the table.

That spirit of partnership, grounded in equity, guides how we work at CoCreative. Our clients are often surprised that we are as invested in the success of their projects as they are, and that we go so far above and beyond the level of commitment that many consultants bring to the work. That's because we believe that the challenges we take on really must be solved—for the good of our clients, our communities, and the world we share together.

The foundation of our work is our belief in the need for Shared Prosperity and Ecological Sustainability. Shared Prosperity refers to a world in which everyone has real opportunity to not just live, eat, and have shelter, but to truly prosper and live creative and dignified lives. Achieving Ecological Sustainability means that our children's children can enjoy the same prosperity that we do—or even better.


In order to make that world possible, we believe that 7 "system conditions" must be met...


Our 7 Conditions

Shared Prosperity

To achieve shared prosperity, we support inclusive wealth-building and work to eliminate our contribution to a progressive concentration of economic wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer entities.

A healthy economy requires that we concentrate capital at times, to start businesses for example. But systematically increasing concentration of wealth and growing income inequality over time leads to a less healthy society, an unhealthy economy, and increasingly poor outcomes for people affected by systems of oppression.

To achieve shared prosperity, we support shared political power and work to eliminate our contribution to the progressive concentration of political power by certain segments of society.

​While it’s healthy for citizens to assign the work of governing to our representatives, our history shows that systematic concentration of political power over time is never healthy.

To achieve shared prosperity, we support shared control over common assets and work to eliminate our contribution to the progressive concentration of control over the common assets which sustain society (for example, water, air, ozone, and genetic material).

We need to agree on how to manage and use our commons assets, and private control of these resources that we all need to survive leads to unhealthy concentrations of power and wealth while also producing disparities in access and benefit for people excluded from decision-making.

To achieve shared prosperity, we help create conditions that systemically support people's choice and capacity to meet their needs, and address the systemic barriers that people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds face.

People need to work diligently to meet their needs and the needs of their families-that's good for people and society as a whole, but we need to deeply address systemic racism, white supremacy, and anti-blackness to create the conditions for everyone to successfully meet their needs.

Ecological Sustainability

To achieve ecological sustainability, we cannot subject nature to systematically increasing concentrations of substances from the earth’s crust.

We pull a lot of stuff from the lithosphere (what's under the ground) and put it into our biosphere (where we live), things like heavy metals and CO2 from fossil fuels. We need to find healthy, sustainable ways to take care of both ourselves and our shared home, and ensure the protection of places that are sacred to Indigenous people.

To achieve ecological sustainability, we cannot subject nature to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.

We produce a lot of substances that never existed before, like antibiotics and endocrine disruptors. These provide lots of benefits but are harmful if they keep building up in nature over time. We believe that we can make substances that help us but don't systematically build up in our bodies and planet.

To achieve ecological sustainability, we cannot subject nature to systematically increasing degradation by physical means.

There are some things that, once we break, we can't readily put them back together again, like complex forest ecosystems, marble, or groundwater tables. Let's design ways to meet our needs that don't rely on breaking things apart that we can't put back together.

The last three "system conditions" are based on The Natural Step @ thenaturalstep.org.

Want to know more? We're happy to help, whether you hire us or not. Just send us a note below to set up a chat.