Creative Change Innovation Fellowship

The Opportunity Agenda’s Creative Change Innovation Fellowship is an invitation-only pilot program intended to support a cohort of leading-edge storytellers during a six-month period (September 2020 - February 2021) as they create, imagine, and empower us with what’s possible. Our 2020 fellows include:

In this moment of crisis for racial justice, public health, the economy, and our body politic, The Opportunity Agenda is grateful to be able to partner with artists and cultural strategists to help envision a new beginning for inclusivity, healing, and justice in our democracy. We believe that creative vision is essential to helping us rise up and become the country we aspire to be.

The fellowship aims to give each artist/cultural strategist an opportunity to 1) focus their efforts on projects that support an affirmative, creative vision for a more inclusive, just democracy and 2) gather field members to collaborate on, discuss and/or amplify their work. 

2020 Creative Change Innovation Fellows

Sage Crump

Sage Crump

Sage Crump is an artist, culture strategist, and facilitator who expands and deepens the work of cultural workers/arts organizations in social justice organizing and supports social justice organizations in understanding the role art and culture can play in movement building. Based in New Orleans but working nationally, Sage believes in leveraging art, creative practice, and the cultural sector to transform systemic oppressions. Sage is a member of Complex Movements, a Detroit-based artist collective whose interdisciplinary work supports local and translocal visionary organizing. She is principal and co-founder of The Kinfolks Effect (TKE) Studios, an incubation space for multimedia interdisciplinary artwork that examines the movement of Blackness through time and space. Sage is also the Program Specialist for Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE) at the National Performance Network and the Architect of Emergent Strategies Ideation Institute, a body that shapes the way movements think about and go about transforming the world we live in. She is board chair for Media Justice, Art2Action, and a member of Alternate ROOTS. Sage’s work incorporates complex sciences, emergent strategy, and creative practice to imagine the world we want to live in and builds strategies and practices that will get us there.

Follow @sagesense on Twitter and Instagram

How does the Creative Change Innovation Fellowship support your goals as an artist/cultural worker?

Culture is comprised of complex systems that intersect and how we see, understand and engage with the world around us. In this pandemic and revolutionary moment, we are experiencing a cultural disruption unlike anything we have experienced in recent history. This provides both challenge and opportunity. While we are managing deep grief as the fissures in systems of this culture are made undeniably visible, we can also be poised to plant into the soil that has been more deeply broken.

My project for the Creative Change Innovation Fellowship is a toolkit that can support 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. This tool is designed to make visible the relationship between the intimate/incremental and the expansive and help frame interventions and imagining that hold both of these. It will help us be aware of how past, present and future influence transformation to a more just society.


Paola Mendoza

Paola Mendoza

Paola Mendoza is 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 earlier this month.

Follow @paolamendoza on Twitter and Instagram

How does the Creative Change Innovation Fellowship support your goals as an artist/cultural worker?

COVID has illuminated so many aspects of our society, our country, and our way of life. This pandemic has also made clear how essential art is to our survival. 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 about 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. This fellowship gives me to time and place to dig into my creative self and create without inhibitions or fear.


Zahra Noorbakhsh

Zahra Noorbakhsh

Zahra Noorbakhsh is a Feminist Muslim, Iranian-American, award-winning comedian, podcaster, and writer. Her essays have been featured 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” at the Golden Thread Theater in San Francisco, her solo performance of “All Atheists are Muslim: A Romantic Comedy,” was originally directed by CNN’s W. Kamau Bell. She was the co-host of the award-winning podcast #GoodMuslimBadMuslim. The podcast was listed as a “must listen,” by Oprah Magazine and was invited to the Obama White House to record an episode. Reza Aslan says "always insightful, always subversive...Zahra's comedic romps disrupt an outdated narrative." For more, visit ZahraComedian.com.

Follow @zahracomendy on Twitter and Instagram

How does the Creative Change Innovation Fellowship support your goals as an artist/cultural worker?

As a Muslim, Iranian and queer artist, I’ll be exploring marketing and distribution strategies that prioritize artist safety, physically, economically, and socio-politically. My discoveries as a Creative Change Fellow will also serve to support my safety and sustainability in Hollywood. The work will also connect a larger network of gatekeepers, change-makers, and strategists also invested in the long-term success of Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

To me, the CC Innovation Fellowship means an opportunity to shift my paradigm from what is to what could be, imagining an infrastructure may not exist but is vital to our success. This year, I’m working on a book, a comedy special, and a new podcast. My fellowship is giving me an opportunity to think strategically on what distribution can look like when we are in control of those channels and all their collaborative and streamlined processes.

What I’m most looking forward to as a CC Innovation Fellow is the opportunity to collaborate. I’m excited to learn from colleagues and I’m really looking forward to meeting new people. I’m also appreciating the media training that comes as a part of the fellowship. I’m always looking to elevate my voice and platform and couldn’t have asked for a better partner in that process.