CDA Explores

Location / accommodations
Tentative schedule


Registration fee: $149 per person (includes meals and materials, but does not include lodging)

Cancellations and written requests for refunds must be received by Sept. 18, 2016. Send your request to


For information regarding registering for the conference, lodging questions and other general information, please contact:

Kate Stottle
MU Conference Office
Phone: 573-882-4349
Toll-free: 1-866-682-6663

For information on the program, please contact:

Lee Ann Woolery
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-884-9025

**Note: This event is over. However, this educational training can be facilitated in your community. Contact the Community Arts Program more information.**

Sept. 26 and 27, 2016
The Elms Resort and Spa
Excelsior Springs, Mo.

CDA Explores
Arts & Economic Development

Learn how the arts and culture can enrich your community and diversify your economy

Join us for this premier event to be held Sept. 26 & 27, 2016 at the Elms Resort and Spa, Excelsior Springs, Mo. In this two-day educational training, you will learn how the arts and culture can be an addition and diversification of traditional community and economic development practices and how the arts can favorably impact local and regional economies.

Engage in experiential learning with leading edge thinkers providing practical application on topics such as:

  • Strategies for economic development in the 21st century as applied to rural communities and small towns.
  • Why diversify the economic stream?
  • How the arts are a valid strategy for boosting and diversifying the economy in small towns and rural communities.

Also you will learn how:

  • One small mining town in Arizona built on their assets and developed a multi-pronged approach to community and economic development with the arts, culture and the environment central to their mission. And,
  • One Missouri community followed a process to develop a cultural heritage tourism product that could lead to a new creative industry in their community.

This educational training is presented by University of Missouri Extension’s Community Development Program, Community Arts Program, and ExCEED Program.

CDA Explores will run simultaneous to the five-day Community Development Academy (CDA) course being held at the Elms in Excelsior Springs. CDA is an intensive, experiential course offered by the MU Extension Community Development Program. Participants at CDA Explores will share the Monday night meal with CDA participants. This will allow for exceptional networking opportunities.

For more information on CDA Explores – Arts & Economic Development, contact Lee Ann Woolery at or Sharon Gulick at For more information on CDA courses, visit the Community Development Academy web page.


Registration fee: $149 per person (includes meals and materials, but does not include lodging)

Cancellations and written requests for refunds must be received by Sept. 18, 2016. Send your request to

Who will want to attend?

  • Local and regional elected officials, economic development directors, directors of tourism and convention and visitor bureaus, civic and social organization leaders, local business owners, artists, entrepreneurs, arts organization leaders, regional planning councils, school superintendents and school boards, librarians, county commissioners, and volunteer coordinators. Also those working in city/county parks and recreation, conservation and natural resource departments, Main Street organizations, Chambers of Commerce, community betterment groups, Extension and outreach programs, and past Community Development Academy participants.

Keynote speaker

Tracy TaftTracy Taft

Taft is the executive director of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA), based in Ajo, Ariz. near the U.S./Mexico border and the border of the Tohono O'odham Nation. With her leadership, ISDA has been engaged in the redevelopment of multiple buildings in Ajo's historic town center as part of an arts-based community and economic development strategy. These include the 7.5-acre historic Curley School campus and the 7-acre historic Ajo Plaza. The projects have won regional and national awards and recognition. At the same time, ISDA has also developed an innovative comprehensive workforce development program. Taft is a tenacious visionary with a background in academic and community education and experience in most elements of strategic nonprofit development and management. Prior to working in Ajo, she spent 15 years in Washington, DC, building the NeighborWorks Training Institute. Her degrees include a BA in history from Stanford University and an MA and PhD in philosophy from SUNY/Buffalo.  

Learn how the Ajo community built on their assets and developed a multi-pronged approach to community and economic development with the arts, culture and the environment central to their mission. The project includes refurbishing an old school and downtown into artist live-work apartments, studios and a conference facility: with additional focus on sustainable agriculture, business entrepreneurship, and tourism. The project has developed over the past ten years with support from local and national funding organizations such as: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Park Service, the Ford Foundation, NEA, and ArtPlace.


Sharon Gulick, PCED

Gulick is the director of MU Extension’s ExCEED program and a state community development specialist for extension. The ExCEED program partners with rural communities and regions across Missouri to develop community-based strategies for economic development and focuses on core issues including community and economic development planning, community assessments, entrepreneurship, leadership development, youth retention and capacity building. In addition, ExCEED helps in the identification of regional strengths and assets for place-based economic development initiatives. In this capacity, she works to connect communities and regions with resources and faculty expertise within MU Extension, the University of Missouri System and her national network. 

Gulick is also the executive director for the Missouri Rural Development Partners, Missouri’s federally authorized rural development council. She is past-president of the international Community Development Society; serves on several boards including the Missouri Economic Development Council, and RMI, Inc., a Missouri-based CDC, and is member of the national Strategic Doing™ National Design Team, the Community Change Network and the Kellogg Foundation’s Rural People, Rural Policy initiative. She brings more than 25 years of experience in economic, small business and community development.

Discussion topic: What are the basic strategies for economic development in the 21st century as applied to rural communities and small towns?

Lee Ann Woolery, PhD

Woolery is an MU Extension community arts state specialist and associate extension professional. She joined University of Missouri Extension as community arts specialist in January 2012 to lead the development of the new Community Arts Program (CAP), a three-way engagement with Missouri communities, extension, and MU faculty and students. Since CAP’s inception, Woolery has met with hundreds of individuals and communities across Missouri promoting and fostering arts-based community and economic development through the community arts program. She helped design the four-step platform for initial engagement of new communities into the program and facilitated the development of Lexington’s Audio Tour — a cultural heritage tourism product used to boost the community’s economy. She is currently working with the CAP team on development of the Tool Box, an interactive e-learning platform for arts-based community and economic development.  Since 2012, CAP has received funding from individual, corporate, and state and regional arts funding organizations such as: Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Humanities Council and Regional Arts Council. CAP has also received the Innovative Program award from the Community Development Society and the Green Award for Program Sustainability in recognition for Leadership in Extension Sustainability Programming from the National Network for Sustainable Living Education, an initiative of Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

Woolery has spent her career as a practicing artist, educator, arts administrator, and interdisciplinary scholar. During her 30 plus years in the arts, she has designed and facilitated arts programs, working with intergenerational and multicultural constituencies. She has designed artist-in-residence programs working with indigenous artists from the Pacific Northwest; co-led the purchase of an artist-owned warehouse in Tucson, AZ providing artist studios, gallery, educational programming, and a for-profit art business; designed national interdisciplinary conferences with a focus on an integrated arts curriculum, and received funding from Chicago public schools to implement a multi-disciplined community based creative arts and mentorship program in five public schools. She has exhibited her work in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally.

Discussion topic: How one Missouri community followed a process to develop a cultural heritage tourism product that could lead to a new creative industry in their community?

Lisa Overholser, PhD

Overholser is the St. Louis Storytelling Festival director and an MU Extension Community Arts Regional Specialist – Urban region. The St. Louis Storytelling Festival (SLSF) with a 35-year history in St. Louis began a new partnership with the University of Missouri Extension Community Arts Program in summer of 2014. Overholser joined MU Extension CAP in January 2015 as the new Director for SLSF. In addition to directing the festival, she works with the CAP team and urban communities to promote and foster art-based community and economic development with stories at the core.

Prior to joining the university, Overholser worked for six years as Staff Folklorist and Outreach Coordinator for the New York Folklore Society, a statewide, nonprofit arts organization supporting folklore and folklife in New York State. While there, she organized conferences, symposia, exhibits and programs highlighting traditional arts and artists across the state, including a Native American basket and beadwork exhibition; a Folk Arts Series at the Albany Institute of History and Art; an upstate New York Hungarian dance house series; the first-ever Music of the Erie Canal Symposium; a statewide Latino Dance Gathering; and many other programs. She also served as primary consultant for the Folk Arts Development Program at the New York Foundation for the Arts. Under a Fulbright Fellowship, she conducted research with the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble on the staging of folk dance forms.

Discussion topic: Connecting community through stories: Festivals, commemorative stories and bicentennials as economic development opportunities.

Gk Callahan, MFA

Callahan is an MU Extension Community Arts Regional Specialist — NW region. Since joining MU Extension CAP in September 2015, Callahan has continued to facilitate extension’s community arts pilot project in Lexington and to engage in new opportunities for CAP in the NW region. Prior to joining MU, with a MFA in social practice, he has focused on creating cultural change through social engagement, specifically humanitarian issues, primarily around public health. He is the founder of The Please Touch Garden, an outdoor community space that addresses urban agriculture, arts and disabilities in San Francisco. Callahan has taught art to the blind and visually impaired, as well as to grade school children, within the non-profit arts sector. He has done this in conjunction with facilitating several community based public murals around the San Francisco Bay area. Additionally, he has produced Contracting an Issue a collection of public, spoken-word documentary performances focusing on the stigma and body politics around HIV and AIDS. He has previously produced a version in San Francisco, his most recent iteration “Contracting an Issue- Kansas City” concluded in May 2015, and he is continuing to develop this project in other parts of the world to gain a more dynamic voice surrounding the issue. Alongside the development of his career in contemporary art, Callahan has built expertise in cultural development, working at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts under the Curator of Public Programs in the Community Engagement Department, and with the City of San Francisco working on public health policies.

Discussion topic: Like the air you breathe: The intrinsic value of art.

Location and accommodations

CDA Explores will be held at the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Mo. Participants of CDA Explores will be responsible for making their own lodging accommodations. Reservations at the conference rate of $99.00 + tax per night are guaranteed if made by September 9, 2016, then on a space available basis until the conference date. When reserving your room at The Elms Hotel, ask for the “Community Development Academy” room block for the conference rate!

DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO THE ELMS: To find directions via the web, the address is 401 Regent Street, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024. As you drive into Excelsior Springs, you’ll be on Highway 10. When you reach the stoplight at Kansas City Street, turn south. After one block on Kansas City Street, The Elms and its parking lot will be on the left. 

SHUTTLE INFO: Participants flying into Kansas City International Airport (MCI) will be able to arrange for shuttle service to take them to The Elms (30-40 miles northeast of KCI Airport) by making arrangements with Super Shuttle at 1-800-258-3826 or by stopping the Super Shuttle booth across from baggage claim at the airport. It is your responsibility to pay the shuttle driver. Advanced reservations are recommended. Please call prior to arrival at the airport to arrange for the shuttle.

Tentative schedule

Mon., Sept. 26, 2016

12 p.m. – Registration and check-in

1 p.m. – CDA Explores - Introductions

              Who we are: Community Arts Program, ExCEED and CDA.

1:15 p.m. Lee Ann Woolery

Share up to three examples of successful projects highlighting art-based community development with strong economic impact.

2 p.m. – Sharon Gulick – Basic strategies for economic development in 21st century

What is economic development today? Learn strategies and roles including: business retention, expansion, industrial attraction, entrepreneurship, creative industries and tourist attraction including cultural heritage and the arts.

3 p.m. – Break

3:15 p.m. – Continue with economic development in 21st century

What is the process for economic development – how to identify data, data exploration, strategy for determining opportunities, etc.? Consider diversifying the economic stream; explore the arts as a valid strategy for economic diversification.

4:15 p.m. – Lee Ann Woolery – Lexington, MO, Audio Tour project

What is involved in one communities search for economic diversity and viability? Legendary Lexington Audio Tour, is a tourism product developed in collaboration with MU Extension Community Arts Program. The hands-on of how they did it — brainstorming, organization, idea development, and action planning. Introduction and transition to applied work that will be conducted on second day.

5:30 p.m. – Join CDA larger group for dinner and evening program.

Tues., Sept. 27, 2016

8 a.m. – Gk Callahan – Like the air you breathe: The intrinsic value of the arts

Why is it important to consider the arts in 21st century communities?

8:30 a.m. – CAP

The hands-on of how you do it — Asset development — building on the strengths of a community. What is an asset? Facilitate asset inventory and include creative exercise component on community mapping. Participants break into small groups for discussion before presenting to larger group.

9:45 a.m. – Tracy Taft – keynote speaker

The Curley School project

10:45 a.m. – Break

11 a.m. – Tracy Taft – continued

11:30 a.m. – Q&A with Tracy Taft

Noon – Lunch

1 p.m. – Lisa Overholser

Connecting community through stories — Festivals, commemorative stories, bicentennials—as economic development opportunities.

1:45 p.m. – CAP

Developing next steps — Where do we go from here once assets are determined? How do you brainstorm creative ideas, organize committees, develop a critical mass map, and action plan for a community arts project with economic impact.

2:45 p.m. – Break

3 p.m. – CAP & ExCEED

Continue with developing next steps — hands-on opportunities. Funding opportunities. Evaluating art-based economic development impact. Review key indicators for measurable outcomes for economic growth from Community Arts Program/projects.

4 p.m. – Q&A with ALL speakers including keynote speaker

4:30 p.m. – Where do you go from here? How do you work with MU Extension — Community Arts Program, ExCEED Program, Business Development, and Community Development?

5 p.m. – Adjourn