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!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chautauqua 2010 Evoking Through Art

A short video that explores the relationship between dialog, art making, and community building. This conversation took place at this year's Chautauqua gathering where we explored the Learning Journey in three days: the call, the journey, and the return. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Poster for Sustainability

This poster was designed in collaboration with Toni McMurphy, Organizational Development Consultant with Infinite Impact, and Jim Stueber, Director of Facilities Engineering at Washington University School of Medicine. Toni and Jim will share this image to support a talk they're giving called 'Sustainability as a catalyst for individual and institutional transformation.' They're doing amazing work building bridges and providing opportunities for people to live and work more sustainably.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Participatory Mural: What is the Nature of Art?

Here's the Visual Thinking mural I set up at the first annual 'Art In Nature/The Nature of Art Festival'. Over 100 artists volunteered to bring their craft to this new festival. In the Visual Thinking area participants of all ages were encouraged to explore the question, "What is the nature of art?" using markers, chalk, pastels, and collage. Special thanks to Nancy Margulies for her help and unending creativity.

Festival Map

In collaboration with the festival directors, I created this map to help guide participants through a multi-disciplinary art festival yesterday in Redwood Park in Oakland CA. It was a treat to see the map wandering around through out the day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Making a pitch at this year's SOCAP10: Visual Thinking for the win

I met very cool and inspiring young entrepreneur at the Hub SOMA yesterday - turns out that she was in a bit of a fix. She needed to make a sold pitch to potential investors as she networked like mad at SOCAP10 - and she need to memorize the pitch by the next day. Visual Thinking to the rescue! I offered to talk with her for a few minutes, drawing and listening while she explained what was at the heart of her work. I was able to help by drawing a simple image that conveyed the gist of her business and what it offers. She could show the image as she made her pitch, or she could simply visualize it and feel confident that she wasn't forgetting anything important. I got this lovely email from her the following day:

Hey Mariah,

Just wanted to let you know I have been up since seven wrestling with the various forms of my pitch, and your drawings have been a GODSEND. I am just so impressed at your ability to take my stream of consciousness and turn it into something tangible, clear and right on target, and in a visual format no less! So cool.

Thank you!!


Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Not About Right Brain Vs. Left Brain

We use both hemispheres of our brain all the time, but for a moment, let's just be frank and say:

Isn't the RIGHT BRAIN cool?

* Holistic
* Appreciates the Random * Utilizes Intuition
* Gets the Systems Perspective
* Understands Context * Connects with Emotion
* Registers Expression

Our friend Daniel Pink says in a Wired article:
"Until recently, the abilities that led to success in school, work, and business were characteristic of the left hemisphere. They were the sorts of linear, logical, analytical talents measured by SATs and deployed by CPAs. Today, those capabilities are still necessary. But they're no longer sufficient. In a world upended by outsourcing, deluged with data, and choked with choices, the abilities that matter most are now closer in spirit to the specialties of the right hemisphere - artistry, empathy, seeing the big picture, and pursuing the transcendent."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peter Block on the role of art

“Reform can’t happen without art”

"Art presents a vision of the world that’s always ambiguous. Ok? If its clear its not art. It’s just imitation. If it’s clear, you may see art with enormous skill and it doesn’t touch you because it’s all clear. So the purpose of art is to document the nuance of experience. And what’s radical in this construction is instead of having people who are good at us drawing for us...maybe the community needs to create the graphic display and the people who have expertise in art are guides, the messengers. And I think its wonderful. Reform can’t happen without art."

-Peter Blcok

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Collaborative Chautauqua Map

Click on the map to see a larger version of the image created by Avril Orloff, Mary Corrigan and myself at this year's Chautauqua gathering. Lots more information in the following post...

Chautauqua 2010

I just returned from a magical 3 day gathering called 'Chautauqua' held at the Mount Madonna School in Watsonville CA. "What is a Chautauqua?" you might logically ask. The amazing Ward Mailliard is the ring leader and progenitor of the gatherings, so I'll let him explain. The Chautauqua is an "engagement of people who care about learning...and they center around the essential question, of 'What are the conversations that I want to have that will support my own transformation in the learning process?' and, 'How can I engage in conversations that will support the work that I care most about?'" Over seventy people attended this year to explore their individual and our collective learning journeys.

I was fortunate to be a part of an initial conversation that led to the use of art as a central method for exploring learning and transformation at Chautauqua. Here's Ward again:
"I just had an interesting and thought provoking conversation with Mariah Howard who most of you know a gifted visual note taker and, well so much more as a thinker of creative engagement. We were talking about the Chautauqua 2010 (July 6-8) and how we might deepen, extend and connect the trail blazing that happens there" by engaging "the gifts of music, art and technology to create new frameworks of participation at the event and even beyond."

This year was unique in that there were three Visual Recorders present: Mary Corrigan, Avril Orloff and myself. The three of us found a way to encouraging people to make their own visual records, collages, and group drawings while the 'professionals' collaborated on a large Visual Record of the event which you can see in an earlier post. The other stellar facilitators were Peter Block, Barbara McAfee, Vivian Wright and Michael Jones...a dream team of conveners.
It was a fantastic opportunity to experience the power of art as it relates to creating community, deepening our ways of learning, and transforming our individual narratives about the journey we're on.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Visual Record: Trust

A map I created after listening to the reflections from a World Cafe gathering, where several groups dialoged about the nature of trust.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Resume Map

Here's a whole new way to present your resumes to potential clients and employers: it's the Resume Map! In this Map the job seeker hopes to become an Executive Assistant to the Executive Team of The Engage Network. The Resume Map matches each of the various roles/functions required for the position with her requisite skills and experience. This Map will certainly help her stand out from the crowd.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mount Madonna School School Project: Values in World Thought

On Friday April 2nd I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with the Junior and Senior class of Mount Madonna High School. The students are about to embark on an amazing trip to Washington DC through through their 'Values in World Thought' program. Their teacher and my inspiring friend Ward Millard shares their whirl-wind tour as students interview members of Congress and other important leaders. Ward handed the class over to me on Friday after we collaborated on a design for the day that would support students investigating their concerns, goals, questions, and commitments in support of the trip. To learn more about previous trips to DC and hear interviews conducted by the students, click here.