Mariah's Biography

Mariah works as a meeting designer, teacher, and visual thinking specialist. She helps clients like non-profit organizations, corporations, and community groups to translate their visions, processes, plans – anything! – into engaging images. Whether she’s listening to a keynote at a large conference or sitting at the table during a small meeting, Mariah captures her clients’ key messages and themes in Visual Records – metaphors, images, and words that she draws in real time. She also loves designing meetings that tap into the wisdom of groups and their ability to think together. Mariah teaches the practice of visual thinking in public and private workshops, building on participants’ innate creativity and desire to communicate effectively. She lives in beautiful Oakland, CA, with her husband and lots of art supplies.

Please contact her at to find out how to bring visuals into your work.

Her clients include: Genentech,, PepsiCo, Nike, The United Way, GlaxoSmithKlein, AAA, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), The Veteran’s Association, and many more!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Team Facilitation at Global Leadership Lab

A highlight of my career as a Visual Facilitator came in the form of the Global Leadership Lab. The Labs are facilitated workshops aimed at bringing together a cross section of thought-leaders who are working on the most challenging issues of today: climate change, re-thinking finance, and transforming traditional business models. The participants of the lab are a "group of thriving, collaborative, learning individuals that drive innovative change for our planet and all of humanity."

I worked in collaboration with a multi-generational group of facilitators to design and host two different labs. At the inaugural Global Leadership Lab, I participated in designing the agenda and at the Lab itself, I worked as a Visual Facilitator (see map below). At the second Lab, I offered my experience as a co-facilitator, leading the group in Improvisational theater exercises, as well as group dialogs and reflections throughout the lab. 


Thursday, January 31, 2013

LifePlays Improv: images of evolution

The wonderful Chris Miller and Ann Swanberg contacted me to create some images for the update of their website,

It was a total joy to collaborate and create with Chris on this series of images that portray leaps in evolution. Chris brought lots of great ideas to the table when we first spoke, and the drawings and sketches helped bring his visions to life. 

Not surprising, it's fun to work with an improvisor.

From the grunting cave man to classical music

From the hieroglyph to the iPhone 

From the stone wheel to the fast car

And finally, from

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mapping from home, a Cyber Cafe on privacy

This map was commissioned by the National Science Foundation through a wonderful company called weDialog - experts in offering on-line conversations and events. What you see above is one of the results of an on-line World Cafe, called 'SaTC Cyber Cafe'  aimed at identifying "critical issues in cybersecurity...designed to encourage collaborative research between computer science and the social sciences."

From the comfort of my home studio I listened to two, forty minute dialogs on the subject of cybersecurity and privacy. I drew while I listened, scanned my notes, added color in Photoshop and voila! You can see the results. 

I believe the art of hosting on-line discussion, complete with Visual Recording of course, is a critical 21st century skill. We need to bring together voices from around the world in an on-line platform by maintaining a space that mirrors the intimacy of in-person conversation. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Synthesis Map

Here's an example of Synthesis Mapping: during an event I make small notebook size map and then review it with key stakeholders while the large group is on a break. We have a brief chat, check out the highlights that were captured in a small map, and decide what info and imagery should show up in the Synthesis Map. Then I get to work!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Visionary Leadership

I'm elated to be able to share these maps because they depict a series of conversations with leaders who are committed to engaging their work in a holistic and authentic way. The first map was created live during a talk given by a leader who presented a roadmap for his team.

The map below was inspired by a conversation about creating personal and collective masterpieces through the work and vision of individuals and teams.

The content in each flower came from individual team members expressing their vision for their personal masterpiece. 

In this map team members responded to the question: "Remember when you were a part of a successful team producing great results under demanding circumstances. What were the conditions that brought out the best in you and allowed you to flourish as a team?" I recorded their answers as they stood around the map at the end of their retreat. 

Inspiring Schools

I was elated to get to work with the inspiring and kind people of Highline Public Schools. During their Administrative Retreat, staff and faculty discussed the book, 'Pedagogy of Confidence' by Yvette Jackson. In a powerful and engaging presentation, superintendent Dr.Susan Enfield shared her hopes for the future of Highline, inspired by the ideas raised in the book. The map is a synthesis of Dr.Enfield's vision.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

BSidesSanFrancisco: A Security Conference

So very happy to be working at this year's BSides Security conference right across the Bay in San Francisco. This conference is such a cool idea: all the folks who don't make it on the roster of the BIG, well funded security conferences still have something to say. So let's let 'em talk. And all the folks who'd like to go to the BIG, heavily-sponsored conferences but don't want to pay hotel, airfare and steep prices...let's let 'em in for free! Tah-dah: you've got BSides. I could say more, but I'll map instead:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Maps of the Hero's Journey

Working with a team of facilitators at Genentech, I created a series of large-scale templates that were filled in during a celebration designed for participants to reflect on their year long study of the Hero's Journey. 

The Strongheart Fellowship Program and Grace's story

This map was created after I heard a beautiful and compelling talk given by Grace, a Strongheart Fellow and the founder of Strongheart, Zoe Adams. Grace shared her amazing life story with a group of leaders, focusing on how we all have to develop courage and wisdom to attain our goals. Zoe explained the mission of Strongheart and how their work with young people is changing the world. Please visit the Strongheart site here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Live mapping: A leadership journey

This map was created while a small leadership team responded to the question, "What if the last three days could unleash the potential of 50,000 people and their families?".  Each executive in the room responded to the question while I captured their words and added related images. The acorn in the center of the map was a metaphor used through out the three days to help participants imagine what their work could become in the future.