Disruptors in the desert: Jen Cole to head new national accelerator at ASU


April 25, 2018

Jen Cole, an innovative leader who sees arts and culture as a transformative public good rather than simply a commodity, will join Arizona State University in July to launch a national program that will integrate design and the arts across sectors to help find solutions to the world's biggest problems.

Cole, currently the executive director of Metro Arts Nashville Office of Arts and Culture, is already implementing her vision by using the arts to spur economic development, enhance wage growth, improve housing access and advance racial equity in Tennessee. Photo of Jen Cole Innovative arts leader Jen Cole will join the Herberger Institute in July to launch and lead ASU's National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and Inclusion. Photo by Jerry Atnip. Download Full Image

“I’ve always known that if I ever had the opportunity to work at a national and global level to change arts and culture, Jen would be among the first people I’d recruit,” said Steven Tepper, dean of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “She has some radical ideas that reimagine how arts and culture can intersect with all areas of society. Her leadership and ideas are a perfect fit for the transformation we hope to lead at Herberger Institute and ASU. The accelerator is the next step.”

Cole will design, build and grow the National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and Inclusion at ASU, a new endeavor that will build on nationally funded work that Herberger Institute has already undertaken to advance innovative ideas in design, arts and culture. The accelerator will test and scale those ideas for national and global impact.

“The opportunity to continue the work I started in Nashville and advance it in a larger context at Herberger Institute is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Cole said. “What we’re going to do has never been done before.”

In her years heading Metro Arts, Cole shifted the focus from giving grants — which the agency continues to do — to creating societal change through the arts. That included, for example, producing arts-related interventions for youths dealing with the court system and training artists to work with community partners on such issues as affordable housing, justice and immigration.

“This is what we do at ASU,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of research and innovation at ASU. “We have world-class faculty and researchers, we have tremendous students who will be the next generation of leaders in the arts, we have a global network of industry, civic and community partners. We can bring all of these players together to advance the best ideas in arts and culture and really serve as a catalyst for the enterprising work of so many talented artists around the country and the world.”

Cole has more than two decades of experience in organizational leadership and change management and has worked extensively in the public and nonprofit sectors in a variety of executive positions. Since 2010, she has led the city of Nashville’s efforts in arts, culture and creative economy in her role as the director of Metro Arts Nashville Office of Arts and Culture. She serves on the board of Americans for the Arts, where she chairs the U.S. Urban Arts Federation, and is a frequent national speaker about the role of arts in community transformation.

“Artists have long worked as allies in building equitable, healthy and sustainable communities,” said Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America. “With this national accelerator, ASU can now offer the space, time, resources and support for artists to test and scale their ideas before returning with them to their communities. This may well be a tipping point for the field.”

The accelerator is being launched in partnership with ASU Gammage.

“Jen Cole has emerged as one of the most important arts leaders in America, known for advancing a new way of thinking about cultural policy,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU’s vice president for cultural affairs and executive director of ASU Gammage. “She is going to be an extraordinary asset for the university and for the region.”

New internship program connects health students with community and careers

Students pursuing non-clinical health degrees at ASU will have more opportunities to put their education to work before graduation


April 25, 2018

This spring, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University quietly launched a much-anticipated official internship program with the aim of setting health students up for success.

It’s part of an effort to provide additional support and guidance to those pursuing one of the innovative degrees outside of nursing that the college offers. Interns Wanted image Download Full Image

CONHI Senior Director of Health Programs and Clinical Professor Cris Wells says because many of these programs, including Health Care Compliance and Regulations, Community Health, Integrative Health and Health Innovation, don’t have straight pathways to careers — like nursing does — it’s important to help make those real-world connections for students.

“The whole idea was to make sure that the students that we have in the health programs really have skills and are able to translate what they’re learning in the classroom into the skill set that they need to work,” Wells said.

When Wells was asked to oversee the implementation of the program, she tapped CONHI Baccalaureate Health Programs Instructor Caryn Unterschuetz and Armen Hakobyan, a clinical research management program coordinator, to lead the efforts. 

Cris Wells

“(Students) were to be able to do internships before, but it was more of a case-by-case basis, maybe an instructor knew about an opportunity that would be good for the student and they set it up that way. What we’re looking to do is standardize this whole process,” said Hakobyan.

Labeled in the course catalog as HCR 484 and HCI 484, these internships offer students three elective credit hours. While in-person classes are required, there’s only a handful of them as most of the time is spent at the internship site.

Still, students need to have room in their schedules to register for the course and should consider things like transportation because many of the internships are off campus. Even though this is an elective, CONHI students are given priority.

Spring 2018 was the first official semester under the new program, and Unterschuetz says the Arizona health care community has been very receptive to the idea.

“We’ve had a great outpouring from the community; they’re so accepting and they really want to work with us,” said Unterschuetz.

Armen Hakobyan

A couple of the partners already on board include the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and A Caring Heart. They’re also currently in talks with the Arizona Medical Board.

For some of these entities, Hakobyan said it’s really about reconnecting vs. forging new connections.

“It seems like we had some of these agreements in place before, but somewhere along the lines it just sort of fizzled out,” he said.

Right now, there are actually more internship opportunities than students, though interest has increased after a flier made the rounds.

“We’re very carefully talking to students, finding out what their passions are and what they want to do after graduation. This is very student-centered,” said Unterschuetz.

In that same vein, feedback is key. Not only is the program interested in hearing from the community partners but also from each participant, and the comments are already rolling in.

Caryn Unterschuetz

“We’re learning from the students as they come back, kind of a gap analysis of what we need to provide in some of our education, what’s missing, what we need to do to maybe enhance some of our courses to help future students,” said Wells.

Everyone involved is working toward the same goal, creating an ongoing, sustainable internship program where health students can explore their options and perhaps even create their own role in the ever-changing world of health care.

“I think these degrees that we have are going to be the degrees of the future because we are going to move away from the hospital as being the center of care into community health that is much more sustainable,” Unterchuetz said.

The program will be offered year-round, with summer spots open right now. Students interested in an internship can contact Unterschuetz or Hakobyan.

Amanda Goodman

Media relations officer, College of Nursing and Health Innovation

602-496-0983