About Us

We know how to inspire creative impulses. Marry the best skills to the hardest challenges. We like “the road not taken.” We’ve walked it. We seek truth and integrity in our work. In our clients, we see the best of all—passion and an imagination that can reach past any boundary.

Carlo M. Cuesta, Founder and Managing Partner

In the early 1990s, Carlo Cuesta began his career as a theatrical stage director and arts administrator founding the Playwrights’ Project and serving as producer and general manager of Shakespeare In The Park in Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. In 1996, he was appointed executive director of the Playwrights’ Center, a national arts service organization based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul Minnesota. There he help grow the organization’s investment in artist fellowships and successfully led its capital campaign renovating an old Victorian church into a theater center for playwrights. In 2002, Carlo founded Creation In Common with Dana Gillespie (a playwright) and Padraic Lillis (a stage director) with the mission of strengthening communities through shared creativity. Today, he serves as the firm’s managing partner overseeing all consulting engagements.  Over the last 17 years, Creation In Common has delivered strategic solutions that have helped people across all sectors of the nonprofit field more effectively lead and create together. During this time, he became an instructor at the University of Minnesota teaching in its graduate art and cultural leadership program. In addition, Carlo conducts keynotes and workshops for a variety of groups around the country including Association of Fundraising Professionals, Minnesota Council for Nonprofits, and Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence and his articles on nonprofit branding have been featured in the Nonprofit Quarterly. He holds a MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a BFA from Emerson College. Though he is a New Yorker at heart– where he grew up; he is proud to be a Minnesotan– where he today lives with his wife Dana and daughter Isabella.

Contact Carlo at


or call 651-647-4443

Dana Gillespie, Founder and Director for Raise Together

A veteran fundraiser, Dana brings over 30 years’ experience consulting with nonprofit organizations and leading fundraising and communications teams. As a founding partner of Creation In Common, Dana has helped agencies assess their capabilities, elevate board governance, and deepen employee engagement through engagements with McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Care Providers of Minnesota, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, Opportunity Partners, Phillips Family Foundation, Sidney Health Center, National Council on Family Relations, Pillsbury United Communities, KERA/Art &Seek, and Walker Art Center. As a fundraiser for a variety of organizations ranging from the Dallas Theater Center, Young Audiences, The Alzheimer’s Association and Pillsbury United Communities, Dana has forged connections between the needs of an organization with the need to deepen donor understanding about the impact of giving all the while conveying a compelling narrative. Most recently for the Fairview Foundation, Dana developed philanthropic collaborations between hospitals and the communities they serve in order to improve health and organizational outcomes. Dana’s strengths in analysis and observation are enhanced by a love of storytelling. She is a produced playwright and as such, Dana sees the value of all the players and how individuals can work together toward a common goal. In her spare time, Dana loves to run the occasional 5K.

Contact Dana at


or call 612-310-1325

Bryn B Meyer, Research Associate

Bryn Meyer brings nearly a decade of professional experience working in academia, nonprofit and for-profit organizations. A researcher by both training and temperament, she has extensive experience with survey design and development, ethnography, quantitative statistics, and qualitative data analysis. She has applied these skills to a variety of fields including public health, environmental policy, social services, and nonprofit evaluation. Bryn complements her research toolkit with training in creative problem solving process and group facilitation. As an associate for Creation In Common, she uses this eclectic skill set to help organizations better understand the needs of their community, and develop creative, real-world solutions to maximize their impact. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. When not crunching data for Creation In Common, or working on her thesis, Bryn spends her time caring for an unspecified number of rescued animals, and dabbles in mystery writing. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and the
aforementioned menagerie.

Contact Bryn at


or call 651-647-4443

Ellen Davis
Ellen Davis, Project Associate

Ellen Davis, Founder of Future Funding, is a grant expert, project manager, and fundraising strategist with more than 10 years of experience developing grant programs, strengthening institutional funding strategies, and writing and winning grants. Ellen was previously Grants Director at Fox Advancement for three years, where she provided grant writing and grants development support to a diverse portfolio of nonprofit clients. Before that, she spent seven years working in Washington, D.C. for a variety of international development nonprofits, including ABA ROLI, Plan International, and Pact. Ellen has a MA from Georgetown University and a BA from American University. She always has time to bake cake, debate the correct ranking of the Mission Impossible movies, and hear about what fantastic restaurant you just ate in.

Contact Ellen at


or call 651-647-4443