What We Do

It all began in 1994 when Mary Strawn left her practice in pediatrics to pursue helping high-risk youth through therapeutic art. She volunteered in several settings bringing art to youth with various challenges.

During this time Mary began volunteering at Maricopa County Hospital. Here she worked with young burn survivors, helping them cope with trauma through creative expression. In her experience Mary discovered just how powerful and healing the arts could be for others. She continued her volunteer work for many years with The Arizona Burn Foundation’s Camp Courage, a summer experience for burn survivors.

It was at Camp Courage that Kirk Strawn joined the team by bringing his art car, a giant VW bus named Walter, to camp. Walter is converted from an old fire truck which gave it  special meaning for the kids. While Kirk and Mary helped lead activities at the camp they started developing the idea of a space dedicated to empowering arts, run by a community of like-minded individuals.

This shared vision led to the creation of The Walter Hive in December of 2017 with the goal of providing programs that support creative expression for all ages and experience levels. This includes work with the both the general public and specific communities, from youth through dementia clients. The Walter Hive partners with several other non-profit organizations such as Cancer Support Community, Boys and Girls Clubs, Hospice of the Valley, and many others.

The Walter Hive facilities include:

  • The Walter Dome: A makerspace with fabrication tools such as a wood shop, welding, laser cutter, 3D printer; tech such as arduinos, LEDs, and other programmable components; and a vast array of fine arts materials
  • Walter Art Gallery: A welcoming space where attendees experience contemporary art and where the work of both up and coming and more established local artists is celebrated.

Through The Walter Hive Mary and Kirk continue to spread their message of healing through art, and they hope to inspire others to do the same. They have seen firsthand how powerful creative expression can be. They are grateful for this opportunity and for all of the participants, staff, volunteers, and partners who share in this vision.

Engaging Workshops

Dedicated Educators

Longlasting Impact

Who We Are

Mary Strawn

Founder and Program Director

Mary Strawn is an M.I.T. graduate, physician, and artist. Her background in healthcare along with her  artist’s passion have led to an approach to wellness through therapeutic art. Mary loves to offer  creative opportunities to others and puts her heart and hope into The Walter Hive. Her family fills her life with joy.

Dianne Haws

Executive Director

Dianne Haws comes to The Walter Hive with experience in event and program management from a variety of nonprofits serving youth. She was born and raised in Arizona and currently lives in Tempe with her husband and two boxers. She re-charges through creative expression and believes in the power of healing through the arts.

Charlotte Strawn

Gallery Manager

Charlotte Strawn is an artist who has grown up around creativity as part of the Walter Projectʼs community of makers, artisans, and hard workers all of her life. She currently serves as full time manager of Walter Art Gallery and also contributes as an instructor of Walter Hive workshops. Her extensive skills play an integral role in accomplishing our mission of empowerment and her positivity inspires us all.

Patricia Turpin

Volunteer Curator 2013 to present

Patricia Turpin is a local artist specializing in mixed media art. She is a native Phoenician with long, deep ties to the Valley’s art community. Trish assists us with artist selection and communication, show installations, and marketing. She loves art and artists and helping to make our gallery a vibrant, relevant, fun place in the local arts scene.

Jules Brandenburger

Program & Volunteer Manager

Jules Brandenburger is a seasoned professional passionate about crafting unforgettable moments. Originally from sunny Orange, California, Jules discovered her love for event management while studying at Arizona State University. Starting as an intern at The Walter Hive in 2016, her dedication quickly propelled her to become an event producer, leaving a lasting impact on the company’s traveling show until 2020. Following her heart to Kotzebue, Alaska in 2022, she shared her talents as a middle and high school Art teacher before returning to Phoenix. Now, as the Program and Volunteer Manager, Jules brings her wealth of experience and unwavering commitment to lead her team with kindness, creativity, and a touch of sweetness, continuing to create magic together.

Colin Kestian

Marketing & Communication Specialist

Colin Kestian is a graphic designer and marketer with a passion for art and activism. He is a Phoenix transplant hailing from the southside of Chicago and loves The Valley’s vibrant culture and art community. He manages our marketing, graphic identity, and much of our photography/videography. Colin started his journey with The Walter Hive as a workshop attendee where he discovered an interest in fabrication art and aims to hone his skills in welding, laser cutting, and woodworking through a multitude of upcoming projects.

Ryan McDermott

Volunteer Program Manager Fabrication/Tech

Ryan McDermott is a lifelong artist and educator. He has advised educators on starting and running creative spaces, as well as led hands-on workshops for both students and teachers at schools and conferences all over the world. His passion is helping students and educators realize that they are capable of more than they had imagined. This passion is lived out through his work developing curriculum for and leading empowerment-through-art workshops, as well as hands-on instruction in topics ranging from interactive and public art to robotics, circuit design, and CNC fabrication.

Alyson McDermott

Volunteer Support Staff

Alyson McDermott is a high-end software consultant, foster-care advocate, political journalist, and teacher who has brought her skills to workshops all over the world. She has taught kids how to build their dreams, and taught some of the next generations of teachers how to do the same. She has served on the board of directors for Heatsync Labs, one of the first makerspaces in the western US, as well as the board of advisors for MACH1, one of the premier library-makerspaces in Arizona.

Jina-Lin O'Donnell

Volunteer Welding Instructor

JinaLin originally hails from Milwaukee, WI and came to Arizona in December of 2020. She began welding at the age of 15 and has continued to stay active in the industry for twenty years. JinaLin has worked in multiple fields including fab shops, shipyards, foundries, refineries, pipelines and new construction. She is a licensed Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) through the American Welding Society and is currently the Plant Manager for a local welding/fabrication shop. JinaLin enjoys spending free time with her dog named Grizz, going to music festivals and volunteering.

Board Of Directors

Kirk Strawn MD

Founder & Chairman of the Board

Kirk Strawn is a retired Family Practice physician and consummate idea generator. His business acumen along with his interest in creating inclusive community spaces contribute to Kirk’s excellence as Executive Director. His boundless energy and care support family and friends in many additional ways, and in his rare times off you will find Kirk peacefully replenishing in the forest.

Dave Edwards

Board Member

Dave Edwards is a retired Phoenix physician and former Chief Medical Officer in Banner Health. He loves to tinker and is excited to impact the community through art, fabrication and technology. He and his wife Nancy also enjoy hiking and conspiring with their grandchildren against their parents.

Anita Lang

Board Member

Anita Lang is the founder and principal of one of the southwest’s premiere interior design firms, IMI Design. In addition, she has her own furniture line, Design 528, and her nonprofit The Inspire Foundation. Feeling blessed by all of the incredible opportunities her creative career has provided, she feels compelled to forward the channels of the arts as much as possible to bring self expression, empowerment, and joy to others.

Seth Philbin

Board Member

Seth Philbin has more than 20 years of financial industry experience. As a lead business advisor for the East Valley, he serves as the trusted point of contact for business clients and works closely with experts across Alerus to deliver comprehensive financial advice and access to the company’s full suite of diversified financial services. Seth enjoys meeting with business owners and learning about their operations, then finding the right solutions to help them achieve their goals. Seth holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arizona. He is actively involved with the Executive Council 70, Junior Achievement of Arizona, and also sits on the board of directors for The Walter Hive.

Darren Jeffrey

Board Member
Darren Jeffrey is the original obstacle course creator for NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and other Ninja Warrior shows around the world. Darren is a skilled game designer and builder for shows like Big Brother, Amazing Race, Biggest Loser Beast Master, Titan Games and many other shows globally. He was also a Hot Shot with the USDA, and has vast construction and business development along with teaching experience.  Darren is currently a rock climber and trainer for Search & Rescue, Military and Fire departments. Darren is also an active board member for The Rick Herrema Foundation and advisor for many other non-profits.

Jimbo Beck

Board Member

Jimbo Beck has been in the Steel Industry and management for over 30 years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Finance from Middle Tennessee State University. His love for the arts, music, dancing and his friends bring him the most happiness these days. He considers the Walter community “family” and wants to share this great community around art and love!