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:
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.
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.
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.
Anna Douglas is a visual artist and graduate of Family and Human Development at Arizona State University. Anna has volunteered and worked with a variety of communities in Phoenix from St. Vincent De Paul hosting charity events to caring for and running art programs for children. As Program Manager at the Walter Hive, Anna designs and helps to conceptualize engaging community workshops and events. Above all, Anna aims to support the Hive in cultivating a welcoming and inspiring space for all to come and experience.
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 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.
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 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 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. Jina–Lin 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. Jina–Lin enjoys spending free time with her dog named Grizz, going to music festivals and volunteering.
Zena Peterson is a laser cutting artist and loves to design and create art, from jewelry, to wall-art, to light-up décor. She has her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and has worked much of her professional career as an accountant. Art and music have always been her creative outlet and she loves helping people bring their art projects to life. Bringing community together through art, music, nature and health and wellness is one of her biggest passion’s in life and she is so grateful to be able to help support the mission of the Hive. She hopes to teach more people how to design their art and inspire them to imagine their own creations.
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.
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 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 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.
Jennifer L. Erickson joined eScribers in March of 2020 as the Chief Operating Officer. In her career, Jennifer has extensive experience in senior and executive level management with several companies in a variety of industries including: healthcare, importing, consulting, and entertainment. She holds a B.A. in Accounting from Arizona State University, and is an Arizona certified CPA. Jennifer spends many hours volunteering with several charitable and professional organizations such as the Arizona Animal Welfare League, Pink Boots Society, and The Walter Hive. She and her husband are partial owners of Walter Station Brewery, where her husband also serves as the Master Brewer.