Creative Strategist Program

(Above) CSUN students create artwork as part of a voter engagement activity facilitated by Creative Strategist and artist Deborah Aschheim in collaboration with the Registrar-Recorder to raise awareness about their new Voting Systems for all People. Photo by Monica Almeida.

A recommendation of the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, the Creative Strategist-Artist in Residence (Creative Strategist) program places artists, arts administrators, or other creative workers in County departments to work alongside staff, project partners, and community stakeholders in a collaborative process to develop, strategize, promote, and implement artist-driven solutions to complex social challenges. The program supports the Countywide Cultural Policy and serves as a model for arts-based, cross-sector projects and community engagement with County departments to support equity across all domains of civic life.

Rooted in civic and social practice art, the program launched in 2018 with a three-year pilot phase. A report on the evaluation of those six initial residencies has been published. Click the button below for more information on what we learned. 


Creative Strategist Program Evaluation



Deborah AschheimDepartment: Registrar-Recorder's Office (2019-20)
Bio: Deborah Aschheim makes installations, sculptures, and drawings about memory and place. Her work exploring collective memory and place-based narratives combines studio production with oral history and community engagement. Aschheim’s solo exhibitions include the Barrick Museum at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; the Richard Nixon Presidential Library; Suyama Space in Seattle, San Diego State University; the Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh; Otis College and Laguna Art Museum. She has created public artworks for Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey; for the Sandler Neurosciences Center at UCSF; for in Seattle; for the City of Sacramento and the Los Angeles Police Department. Aschheim has been artist-in-residence at The MacDowell Colony; Headlands; McColl Center, Bemis and Roswell Artist-in-Residence programs, and was the inaugural Hellman Visiting Artist at the Memory and Aging Center in the Neurology Department at UCSF. She has received grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, the California Community Foundation and the City of Los Angeles. She lives in Pasadena.

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Embedded in the Media, Communication and Creative  Services department, Deborah developed artistic approaches and engagement strategies to raise awareness of the County's new Voting Solutions for All People initiative in the months leading up to the presidential primary. Deborah's work sketching voters and capturing what inspires them to vote can be seen on Instagram @365DaysofVoters. This Spectrum News piece captured the work Deborah did engaging students at community colleges around the County and The Argonaut covered her #365DaysofVoters project.

CSU Northridge Student Voter Engagement Event

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365 Days of Voters

365 Days of Voters

365 DaysofVoters is a visual diary created in partnership with LA County Registrar-Recorder ( and Dept. of Arts & Culture

Spectrum 1 News CSU Northridge Student Voter Engagement Event

Spectrum 1 News Story

A news story capturing the work Deborah did engaging with students at community colleges around the County.

Sandra de la LozaDepartment: Department of Parks and Recreation (2019-22)
Bio: Sandra de la Loza is a community-engaged visual artist, art educator, and organizer who resides in Northeast Los Angeles where she grew up. Within her artistic practice, she supports communities in finding and documenting hidden social and ecological histories to strengthen community bonds, relationships to place, and support collective action toward community-led placemaking projects. She earned an MFA in Photography from Cal State Long Beach and a BA in Chicana/o Studies from UC Berkeley.


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Creating Connections

Creating Connections

Developed in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Recreation, de la Loza's Creating Connections: An Arts and Culture Framework and Toolkit establishes standards for arts and culture as core programming across all County parks that are centered around four themes: Art and Community, Art and Nature, Art and Wellness, and Art and Food. From 2021-2022, de la Loza designed a range of programs based on the framework at the Earvin "Magic" Johnson Park in South Los Angeles.

Maria del Carmen Lamadrid Department: Department of Arts and Culture (2019)​
Bio: María del Carmen Lamadrid is a media designer and tinkerer from Puerto Rico currently based in Los Angeles. She is interested in fostering collaborative research methods for civic design practices shaped by post-colonial theory. She completed her MFA in Media Design from ArtCenter College of Design’s Media Design Practice/Field, in partnership with UNICEF Uganda Tech4Dev and the award-winning Designmatters. Currently, she works as lead at SuperCommunity, a civic technologies and art collaborative in Los Angeles. She authored the Social Design Toolkit, a critic of neoliberal practices that foster structural inequality in Social Design. Her work has been recognized and featured in the 2009 National Art Sample of Puerto Rico, the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, University of Brighton, and Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and Americans for the Arts’s Public Art Network Year in Review 2018.

The Project

María​ collaborated with Arts and Culture staff on a community and stakeholder engagement plan and implementation, which supported the development of the County's forthcoming Cultural Policy, as well as the Human Resource Equity Summit.

Clement HanamiDepartment: Department of Public Health/PLACE Vision Zero (2018-22)
Bio: Clement Hanami is a Japanese-American visual artist who grew up in East Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in Studio Art with a specialization in New Genres. His work has been exhibited in California, New York, and Mexico, and has been seen at the Geffen Contemporary, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Armory Center for the Arts, John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, California Museum of Photography, Long Beach Museum of Art, AFI National Video Festival, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Mr. Hanami is currently the Vice President of Exhibitions and Art Director at the Japanese American National Museum and his most recent projects include curating the exhibitions Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066 and Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo. He taught New Genres at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts for 20 years. He was a Cultural Affairs Commissioner for the City of Culver City from 2004 to 2010. He received a Getty Visual Arts Fellowship in 2000 and a COLA Artist Award in 2007 given by the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.

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Clement Hamani - Vision Zero Initiative

Creative Strategist Clement Hanami - Vision Zero Initiative

As part of the Vision Zero initiative, Clement was placed in the Policies for Livable Active Communities and Environments (PLACE) program at the Department of Public Health. His residency focused on Vision Zero, an initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all. During his residency, Hanami collaborated with County staff and community members to develop artistic interventions, strategies, and community engagement plans to raise awareness about traffic safety and Vision Zero.

Phung HuynhDepartment: Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs (2021-22)
Bio: Phung Huynh is a Los Angeles-based artist and educator whose practice is primarily in drawing, painting, and public art. Her work explores cultural perception and representation. Huynh challenges beauty standards by constructing images of the Asian female body vis-à-vis plastic surgery to unpack how contemporary cosmetic surgery can create obscurity in cultural and racial identity. Her current work of drawings on pink donut boxes explores the complexities of the refugee experience in Southeast Asian communities. Huynh has had solo exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills and the Sweeney Art Gallery at the University of California, Riverside. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally. She has also completed public art commissions for the Metro Orange and Silver Lines, and the Los Angeles Zoo. Huynh is a Professor of Art at Los Angeles Valley College. She is Chair of the Public Art Commission for the city of South Pasadena and has served as Chair of the Prison Arts Collective Advisory Council. She completed undergraduate coursework at USC, received her BFA degree with distinction from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and her MFA degree from New York University.

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Phung Huynh - Office of Immigrant Affairs

Residency with Office of Immigrant Affairs

Phung Huynh applied her artistic practice and experience as a refugee and immigrant to develop strategies that build trust between LA County agencies and the region's immigrant communities and to build capacity within the Office of Immigrant Affairs in arts-based community engagement practices. Learn more.


Olga KoumoundourosDepartment: Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention (2019-22)
Bio: Olga Koumoundouros is a Los Angeles cultural worker, educator, and researcher dedicated to social justice by creating works that map interconnecting systems of economic, gender, and racial inequities and how they affect people and society. By working with communities and survivors of violence, she works collectively to lift up creative power that strengthens peaceful daily living for all people. She is currently gaining more tools as a PhD student at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC.


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Residency with the Office of Violence Prevention

Since 2019, Olga Koumoundouros has brought an artistic lens to the new Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), within the Department of Public Health. For her project, Violence, Hope, and Healing in Los Angeles County: The Storytelling Project, she used arts-based, trauma-informed techniques to record the stories of people who have experienced violence at the individual or systemic level. A total of 100 stories were recorded and 55 photographs of storytellers were taken, a selection of which have been incorporated into a book. Click "Learn More about the Project" to explore the stories and portraits, a digital version of the book, and an analysis report by Community Health Councils.

Alan NakagawaDepartment: LA County Library (2018-19)
Bio: Alan Nakagawa is an interdisciplinary artist primarily working with sound, occasionally incorporating video, sculpture, drawing, paint, performance, food, and (most recently) perfumes. In addition to serving as the Creative Strategist at LA County Library, Nakagawa was an artist-in-residence for California State University Dominguez Hills' Praxis Art/Ninomiya Photographic Archive (2018-19).

He is the host of Visitings Radio Show on DUBLAB radio 99.1 FM, co-founder of the now defunct arts collective Collage Ensemble Inc. (1984-2011), and was the curator of Ear Meal Webcast (2010-2016). Nakagawa is a recipient of two Art Matters grants, City of Los Angeles Artist Fellowship, California Community Foundation Mid-Career Artist Fellowship, and a Monbusho Scholarship. He received a Masters of Fine Arts from University of California Irvine and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Otis/Parsons School of Art and Design.

The Project

Alan worked with LA County Library to engage the community through the arts in five library locations, one in each of the County supervisorial districts. Using the vintage Japanese art of Kamishibai, Alan and LA-based poet Rocio Carlos led workshops with members of the community to develop original stories and illustrations. Alan designed and fabricated a Kamishibai theater for each library. Additionally, Alan and Rocio trained library staff to conduct community-based engagement workshops with the goals of deepening connections with their constituents and cultivating creativity. In 2020, Alan and Rocio expanded the training for staff at more libraries by creating a series of training videos. For the project, Alan modified the traditional Kamishibai theater, building one out of common household items so that library users can make their own at home. Visit LA County Library, see link below, to learn more and watch Alan's video on the history of Kamishibai. 

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Kamishibai Theatre made by Alan Nakagawa

Kamishibai Storytelling 

Explore the Kamishibai stories created during Alan Nakagawa's residency at LA County Library.

Kamishibai Theatre video screenshot

LA County Library

Learn more about Alan's residency and watch the video he made on the history of Kamishibai.

Jacob PrattAgency: Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission (2022-23)
Bio: Jacob Pratt is Dakota and Ojibway, and a Los Angeles resident since 2015. As an artist, Jacob is a pow wow and hoop dancer and has trained in contemporary and ballet dance. He is accomplished on the Native American flute; his debut album Eagle Calls won the Aboriginal People's Choice Award for Best Flute Album. He has performed live across the globe and appeared in film and television. In addition to co-hosting the Canadian TV series Wild Archeology, Jacob voiced a character on the animated show Louis Says and appeared in Outlander for Starz. Combining his arts and business education -- he has a Master of Science in social entrepreneurship, USC Marshall School of Business and a bachelor's in business administration, First Nations University of Canada -- Jacob has run multiple companies, earning him the CCAB 2016 National Youth Entrepreneurship of the Year Award. For his production company Skoden Entertainment, Jacob has worked on projects for Disney Channel's Use Your Voice campaign, for which he received a Clio Award, and a mini-series broadcast in Canada and the US. Jacob considers himself a business professional with the heart of an artist. His ultimate goal is to use his skills and experience to increase diversity and inclusion within the entertainment industry.


The Project

The goals of the residency are to develop and prototype artist-led and community-informed approaches to increase awareness and understanding of local tribes and the urban American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) community, in particular, their histories and cultural practices, thereby contributing to the County's efforts to undo their systemic erasure; to celebrate the diversity of the County's AIAN community; and to develop strategies and recommendations that contribute to building and sustaining trust.

Anu YadavDepartment: Department of Mental Health (2019-20)
Bio: Anu Yadav is a critically-acclaimed writer, performer, and theater-based facilitator dedicated to art and social justice. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds an MFA in Performance from University of Maryland, College Park. She was the inaugural 2018 DC Public Library Artist-in-Residence and named a Person to Watch in American Theatre Magazine. She wrote and performed the solo shows Meena’s Dream and ‘Capers, and co-founded the storytelling collective CLASSLINES. She is a member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Dramatist's Guild, Alternate ROOTS, Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. She was the 2019 Pasquin Visiting Artist at Beloit College, teaching, and devising theater for social change.

The Project

Anu created Healing Through Story: A Toolkit on Grassroots Approaches, a resource developed with and for Department of Mental Health staff. The toolkit focuses on the power of story as an arts-based healing process that promotes wellbeing and connection. It highlights community-building methods for listening and facilitation and includes interviews with community groups on how we heal. The toolkit is available online at Americans for the Arts' ArtsBlog highlighted this work in their recent story on Artists as Essential Workers with and within Local Government.


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Healing Through Story

Healing Through Story

Healing Through Story is a toolkit focusing on the power of story as an arts-based healing process that promotes wellbeing and connection

Artist Are Essntial Workers with and within Government

Artists Are Essential Workers…

Read the story on Yadav's toolkit on Artsblog.

Carol Zou headshotDepartment: Aging and Disabilities Department (2022-24)
Bio: Carol Zou facilitates creative social change projects with a focus on racial justice, informal labor, and public space. They are a productive laborer, insofar as joy, connection, creativity, social change, and being the "cool aunt" constitutes reproductive labor. Current and past affiliations include: Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, Michelada Think Tank, Trans.lation Vickery Meadow, Project Row Houses with the University of Houston, Asian Arts Initiative, American Monument, Imagining America, US Department of Arts and Culture, Spa Embassy, Enterprise Community Partners with Little Tokyo Service Center, and The Hive. They believe that we are most free when we help others get free.


The Project

The goals of the residency are to develop culturally relevant and community informed arts and culture programming based on an intergenerational framework for County-operated senior and community centers in the County's First District that can be replicated at centers across the County and to introduce staff, constituents, and stakeholders to a wide range of performing, visual, and participatory arts programming that is representative of the rich cultural diversity of the region.

Departments and Agencies

Aging & Disabilities Department

Los Angeles County Aging & Disabilities Department LogoThe mission of the Aging and Disabilities Department is to deliver caring services that empower people, communities, and businesses to grow, succeed, and thrive. Los Angeles County Community and Senior Centers offer a wide range of services and provide opportunities for daily learning, skills enhancement, community engagement, socialization, and healthy living for residents of all ages.


Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission

LA City/County Native American Indian Commission logoThe Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission (LANAIC) was created through a joint effort by members of the Los Angeles Native American community, the City of Los Angeles, and the County of Los Angeles. LANAIC was officially established by the County of Los Angeles on June 25, 1976. The primary purpose of LANAIC is to improve the health and well-being of the Los Angeles American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) community. It accomplishes its purpose through many strategies, including but not limited to increasing the acquisition of funding resources available to the AIAN community, advocating for policy that will improve the health and well-being of AIAN people, and gathering and disseminating information about AIAN people in Los Angeles County. In performing these functions, the Commission will represent the interests and concerns of AIAN people of all tribal and cultural backgrounds, religious convictions, gender identities, and social circumstances.


LA County Library

LA County Library logoFounded in 1912, LA County Library is one of the largest and most innovative library systems in the US. It offers free public resources including books, music, multimedia materials, computer and internet access, and educational and recreational services to 3.4 million residents across 3,000 square miles through its 85 community libraries, 1 institutional library, and mobile fleet of 14 vehicles, including 3 Bookmobiles, 6 MākMō (maker mobiles), and 5 Reading Machines. LA County Library is dedicated to reducing barriers and increasing access to and equity of public services for all. 


Department of Mental Health

Department of Mental HealthThe mission of the Department of Mental Health is to optimize the hope, wellbeing, and life trajectory of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable through access to care and resources that promote not only independence and personal recovery but also connectedness and community reintegration. The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is the largest county-operated mental health department in the United States and operates programs in more than 85 sites. On average, more than 250,000 County residents of all ages are served every year.


Office of Immigrant Affairs

Office of Immigrant Affairs

The mission of the Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs is to advance the well-being of all immigrants in the County of Los Angeles by providing and connecting with support services to help in all aspects of life, including: ONE-STOP Shop for all County services; consumer protection for you, your family, and your community; support to help you, your family, and your community succeed; celebrating your contributions in making Los Angeles a better place for all.


Department of Parks and Recreation

Department of Parks and RecreationThe Department of Parks and Recreation manages 183 parks and operates a network of 70,079 acres of parkland, 475 sports amenities, 42 swimming pools, 15 wildlife sanctuaries, 10 nature centers that serve as a refuge for over 200 animals, 14 lakes, 5 equestrian centers, more than 210 miles of multi-use trails, and the largest municipal golf system in the nation. The department also maintains four botanical centers: The LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, the South Coast Botanic Garden, Descanso Gardens, and Virginia Robinson Gardens. The department also operates the LA County-owned Hollywood Bowl and John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, in partnership with the LA Philharmonic.


Department of Public Health/Office of Violence Prevention

Department of Public Health/Office of Violence PreventionThe Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), housed within the Department of Public Health, works to strengthen coordination, capacity, and partnerships to address the root causes of violence, and to advance policies and practices that are grounded in race equity to prevent all forms of violence and to promote healing across all communities in Los Angeles County. OVP monitors the trends and circumstances of violent deaths affecting Los Angeles County to inform decision makers and program planners about ways to prevent and intervene on violence in the community, at home, and in the workplace.


Department of Public Health/PLACE Vision Zero

Department of Public Health/PLACE Vision ZeroVision Zero is a traffic safety initiative to eliminate traffic-related fatalities. It is an international movement that emphasizes a new approach to traffic safety, acknowledging that people make mistakes and focusing on system-wide practices policies, and designs to lessen the severity of collisions. 1 Agencies that adopt a Vision Zero initiative commit to the systematic elimination of traffic deaths and severe injuries for all roadway users. To achieve success, this approach requires data driven decision making, an understanding of health equity, multi-disciplinary collaboration within and outside of government, and regular communication with the public.



Registrar-Recorder's Office

Registrar-Recorder's OfficeThe Registrar-Recorder's Office is responsible for registering voters, maintaining voter files, administering federal, state, local, and special elections, and verifying initiatives, referenda, and recall petitions. LA County, with more than 500 political districts and 5.2 million registered voters, is the largest and most complex county election jurisdiction in the US. The RR/CC provides voter registration forms in 10 different languages in compliance with federal and state laws: Chinese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.