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

Anne Jin Soo Preston, Director of Research

Anne joined Creation In Common in 2013.  For nearly a decade, Anne has conducted extensive research, data collection, and analysis in the arts, culture, science, education, social service, and health related fields. Previously as an independent consultant, she helped small, medium, and large-sized organizations identify and respond to local and national funding opportunities, develop organizational infrastructures, and key marketing and communications strategies. Prior to consulting, Anne worked at the University of Minnesota for over 15 years managing grants, programs, and communications. Anne holds a Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership from the University of Minnesota. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Minnesota, focusing on nonprofit board service. Anne currently co-leads the strategy and execution of Board Repair, an independent network to create a more effective nonprofit sector by increasing participation of people of color on boards and committees in the Twin Cities. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two miniature pinschers.

Contact Anne at


or call 612-845-4610

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