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!

Monday, November 9, 2009

C4C Map With Embedded Videos!

Click on the link below and then CLICK AGAIN on the lightbulb next to the title of the map, lower right hand side, just to the right of 'The Return" to see a video of both yours truly and Avril Orloff discussing Visual Recording at Connecting For Change. Enjoy!

Connecting For Change Murals

These murals were co-created with Avril Orloff during the anual Connecting for Change event in Vancouver BC. Please follow this link to learn more about the event and our Visual Recording.

AAA Template: Ideal Team

This is a template I co-created for David Underwood, a Performance Management Executive for AAA in Walnut Creek. David and I had a visually supported meeting about his goals, and a week later I recorded a day long meeting he facilitated where participants filled out the template and shared their ideas. I wanted to share the template along with his glowing review of our work together:

I want to thank you again for your hard work, support, creativity, ideas and guidance on our meeting yesterday. I feel blessed that our paths have crossed. You added tremendous value to the dialogue, and I believe your work will be invaluable to us going forward. I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot from you. For this I am truly grateful. I will now be looking for opportunities to use you in the future and will heartily recommend you to all my colleagues.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Workshop Series at CIIS: Becoming Your Own Professional Coach

Please click to check out the Professional Development series of workshops that Monica Broecker and I will offer at California Institute of Integral Studies this fall. Beginning on October 11th Monica and will co-facilitate a unique exploration of how to cultivate happiness through our work or search for work. We'll ask questions like: What rituals can we create that will support and enliven our current work? What paradigms and resources do we have internally and in the room that are currently untapped? In this series we'll utilize Improvisational theater techniques, practices from Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Neuroscience, and live Visual Recording in a holistic process that explores the challenges and stressors of work and life in new ways. Please join us this Fall.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Visualizing Sustainability at this year's Maker Faire

Julie Gieseke and I created this fun video as a way to explore our ideas about Visualizing Sustainability. We took a handfull of dry-erase markers, small white boards and the question, "What does sustainability look like?" to this year's Maker Faire where we knew there would be folks willing to share their vision of a sustainable world. Julie did the sweet editing and added in a fantastic original soundtrack by my very talented brother Evan Howard. Please share your impressions and email me your image(s) of sustainability if you'd like - we're going to continue to collect these visuals and then, we'll find out what wants to happen next.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

YES! Global Collaborative Day of Engagement

I just had a great conversation with Julie Pennington of YES! about how we can bring Visual Recording to YES!'s Global Collaborative Day of Engagement on June 28th in Berkeley. I took some initial notes about how I might be of service, and then I turned my ideas into the Visual Record you see above (click on the image to see a larger view). Julie will be presenting this map to her co-workers as a way to communicate how Visual Recording can contribute to the conversations being generated by participants of the Day of Engagement - which is going to be a great event, and is free of charge. Click here to learn more about YES!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Terra Verde Visual Facilitation Session

Last week I co-created this image in a Visual Facilitation session with the very talented and altruistic David Hodgson at a cafe in San Francisco. He is beginning a new business endeavour called Terra Verde, and he felt it would be helpful to create a Visual Record of the structure of this business as it currently exists. I tailored some questions for David to consider before our meeting, an initial process that he found helpful and clarifying. At our face-to-face meeting we discussed his responses and I began to draw what emerged in our conversation. Here's what David said about the Visual Facilitation session:

"You helped me reach a much clearer understanding of the complex ideas I was working with. By being able to translate these concepts into visual form, with images that spoke to the richness of the ideas, it really helped them come alive, and allowed me to understand much more clearly how the different parts interrelate with one another in an organic way. I find your ability to intuitively help draw out and enrich the separate pieces and then help weave them into a coherent artistic whole to be absolutely invaluable. I keep the image created next to me on my desk as a I work so as to continually be inspired in what I am doing, and to help me maintain my focus on what I am creating. I also use it to help communicate the idea much more clearly + quickly to others. For me, collaborating with Mariah greatly accelerates the process of manifesting new ideas in the world - and I wish I could work with her more frequently."

When I ASK questions and DRAW your ideas so you can literally SEE what you mean, you'll have greater clarity about your vision and your next steps. Not only will your vision be elucidated, you'll also know more about which areas of your project are unclear or uncertain, so you can have a more defined sense of where to explore further and focus your attention. All this content in one unique image that you can share with people who want to contribute to your project or plan. Please get in touch with your current or emerging projects and we can create a Visual Facilitation session to catered to your needs.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Record of a Story

Click on the image to get a better view.

This map was created live in Austin Texas and it signifies new and exciting way of Recording for me: instead of capturing each word or idea, I only record the STORIES that the speaker shares. The woman who spoke at this particular event is a master storyteller, so the job of Recording her was easy and joyful. Regardless of the expertise of the teller, I believe that our stories contain the essence of our hopes and ideas, so, in focusing in on a story, we connect with the core of what we want to share or communicate. I'd love to keep Visually Recording in this way because we all love to hear a good story!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Childhood Obesity: Mapping the System

I am so happy to be working with the very talented Linda Booth Sweeney again - and this time - we're collaborating to develop what Linda calls 'system maps' that will visually describe and further a childhood obesity prevention program. Below are two images I created that depict the influences and that contribute to the alarming rates of obesity in American children. I am so grateful to work on this project, as Linda's work is so critical, and the system maps we create together have the potential to help people shift their thinking about how we can prevent obesity in future generations. Here's a excerpt from Linda's website where she describes systems thinking: "When we look closely, we see living systems on all scales, from the smallest plankton, to our own body, to the planet as a whole. When we understand what constitutes a living system, we also see that our watersheds, families, communities, organizations, and nations are all living systems." Check out Linda's informative and beautiful website to learn more:

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm very happy to report that the Visual Records Nancy White and I created in response to the Inaugural National Symposium on Food Systems and Sustainability on March 24 and the follow-up Policy Round table on the March 25th, are featured on the current home page of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Envisioning Sustainability

Since my work at UC Davis, I've become very interested in exploring the intersection between the field of Sustainability and my work in Visual Recording/Visual Thinking. I'm curious about how we as individuals, communities, families, and organizations might envision Sustainability: What does Sustainability look like? How can it be mapped and charted? What needs do people have when they try to run their businesses and homes in more Sustainable ways? Said another way, are there visuals that could assist people as they strive to integrate the principles and practices of Sustainability into their lives and work? It's my belief that co-creating Visual Records, icons, maps and templates could serve as another tool to help Visual Thinkers align with the very complex and urgent need for action on the behalf of the environment. Visual Records can help people see both the practical day-to-day steps we can take as individuals, and see how to shift to or adopt a Systems Thinking view of Sustainability. I've started my exploration of envisioning Sustainability, so I wanted to share my first few images above. If you have ideas about how to visualize Sustainability, or know of books on this subject, or better yet, if you know people I could talk with about the alignment between Visuals & Sustainability, please get in touch!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visual Recording at UC Davis

Here are the Visual Records Nancy White and I created during the Inaugural National Symposium on Food Systems & Sustainability:


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A New Way To Present Meeting Agendas

The Visual Records below were created as a way to share the 3 day agenda of Serve Wisconsin's North Central Cluster Meetings, affiliated with the wonderful AmeriCorps volunteer programs.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

World Cafe Community Article: Youth Dialog Project at NCDD

Please take the time to read this article on The World Cafe Community Blog, written by Deborah Goldblatt and co-authored by yours truly. The article chronicals the Youth Dialog Project sessions that took place at last years NCDD conference (National Colition for Dilaog and Deliberation) in Austin, Texas. We learned a great deal about intergenerational work and how to create a space where voices can be heard.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Visual Recording on a Big and Small Scale

In my Visual Recording work I get to listen to and graphically capture a variety of events, conferences, and meetings. Not only is the content unique to each event, the scale of the conversations taking place also varies from job to job. Sometimes I record conversations between teams of people within a large organizations and other times I'm charting the ideas of hundreds of people at a national conference. When the number of participants in a conversation is small, I can record on paper while sitting at a table and blend in pretty seamlessly with the group. When meetings take place in conference centers, I'm Visually Recording in front of hundreds of people, capturing the content in large murals that are projected onto screens so the whole audience can watch the murals taking shape. While the size and scale of the conversation changes, the practice of listening to the core ideas and visually depicting the key points always remains the same.
Most recently, I had the opportunity to work on a very large scale with a fellow Visual Recorder, the lovely and extremely talented Michelle Boos Stone. Michelle and I worked together to capture the conversations of a manufacturing company interested in taking a new and empowered stance in their business. We created fifteen 4x8 murals while working on a stage in front of the audience of almost 750 people, seen below.