Leading Innovators Set Out to Transform Culture With New Creative Change Fellowships


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2020
CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, press@opportunityagenda.org, 212-334-4275

New York, NY - The Opportunity Agenda launched the Creative Change Innovation Fellowship, a new program to support three leading-edge culture change strategists. The new initiative builds upon the organization’s nearly decade-long leadership in using culture strategies to create a more just and equal society. The fellows are cutting edge artists, strategist and leaders, representing a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, who will use the financial and programmatic supports of the six-month Fellowships to break new ground and create transformative social change.

The Opportunity Agenda’s Creative Change Innovation Fellows are:

  • Sage Crump, a New Orleans, LA based artist, culture strategist, and facilitator who helps social justice advocates and organizations to use art and culture to in building transformative movements for change. Sage is a nationally recognized strategist who leverages art, creative practice, and the cultural sector to transform systemic oppression.
  • Paola Mendoza, a film director, activist, author and artist working at the leading-edge of human rights. A co-founder of The Women’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored The New York Times best-seller, Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World. Paola’s most recent book, Sanctuary, was released by Penguin in September, 2020.
  • Zahra Noorbakhsh, an award-winning comedian, podcaster, and writer. She has brought her feminist Muslim, Iranian-American perspective to essays in The New York Times and NPR’s Fresh Air. In addition to her two sold-out performances of her stand-up comedy special, “On Behalf of All Muslims,” she was the co-host of the award-winning podcast #GoodMuslimBadMuslim and is a leading thinker in using comedy to shape culture and tackle difficult issues.

“The Opportunity Agenda is creating space for these extraordinary cultural strategists to generate new thinking and projects and connecting them with our vast network of social change leaders and expertise. In this time of great truth seeing and great truth telling, we are thrilled to support Sage, Paola and Zahra to shine a light on pathways for brighter future,” said Betsy Theobald Richards, Director of Culture Strategies at The Opportunity Agenda.

Culture is comprised of complex systems that intersect and how we see, understand and engage with the world around us. The Creative Change Innovation Fellowship will support me to help people organizing for change to think through the systems that comprise culture in order to have more clarity and intention about what is being built,” said Sage Crump.

“During the darkest days of the first wave of Covid I spoke with friends and family about their fears, the uncertainty of the moment and how to stay healthy. Intertwined with those conversations were shared moments of the movies we were watching, the books that were keeping us going, the music that was giving us strength and the poetry that gave us words when nothing else could.  Art was our light in the dark and artists were our illuminators. The Creative Change Fellowship allows for me to continue to create art when we desperately need it,” said Paola Mendoza, Co-Author of Sanctuary and Co-Founder of the Women’s March.

“As a Muslim, Iranian and queer artist, I’ll be exploring marketing and distribution strategies [for my work] that prioritize artist safety - physically, economically, and socio-politically. I’m excited to connect with a larger network of gatekeepers, change-makers, and strategists also invested in the long-term success of Black, Indigenous, and people of color,” said Zahra Noorbakhsh an award-winning comedian, podcaster, and writer.