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John LEws

Get uncomfortable

do someything



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community (5)

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Be unreasonable

Start over


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Motivational Monday


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Known as visionary problem-solvers and catalysts for cultivating community change, we've seen first-hand that the most significant needs in cities and the greatest challenges in communities can best be met with a collaborative spirit. Driven by an innovative and inclusive engagement style, inspired by open and transparent processes, committed to purpose and vision, strategic and data-driven in our decision making, believers in collective resource sharing, and all in for economic and cultural cross-sector connectivity, Collaborative Development Collective uses collective impact principles to reach new heights. We are passionate public service veterans known for building consensus, empowering those around us, developing authentic relations, cultivating capacity, and driving diverse engagement. We take ownership, deliver results, and capitalize on innovation to meet our clients’ needs.

Collaborative Development Collective is uniquely positioned to be your partner, cheerleader, ringleader, and community champion. We have a vast network of colleagues who are experts in their field, if we don’t have the vision to help you reach your goals, we know someone who does. Having been in the trenches and catalyzed community, organizational, and cultural change time and time again, we know what it takes and who needs to be at the table to define success, expand your reach, and bring home the win. Our passionate focus and purpose-driven commitment to those in our care are contagious. By highlighting and capitalizing on existing assets and identifying abundant thinking opportunities we empower communities, districts, and organizations to ditch the scarcity mindsets and embrace much-needed change. Diversity, empathy, and sustainability drive our decision making. We’ve seen the decisions made on front porches, corner stores, main streets, shopping malls, city halls, courthouses, high rises and coffee shops across the country change the course of community history-all it takes is one conversation at a time.

Our purpose is to break down silos and create consensus that cultivates community change.

Revolutionists fighting for community change. Driven by purpose and inspired by place. Called to serve as mercenaries to empower a new vision of the future. 
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Communities are facing unprecedented challenges.  

We must collaborate for collective impact. 

 W.A.N.E.O We All Need Each Other












We all need each other, not only during a crisis but now and forever. CDC focuses on reshaping the way destinations, downtowns and local governments develop the communities and places they serve, amidst COVID-19 and beyond.



The time to forget what we think we know and do differently is upon us. We don't know exactly what our places will look like post-COVID-19 but what we do know is that we have to work smarter and harder than we ever have before. We have to consolidate resources, combine purposes, and challenge the status quo. The level of change we need right now in community development demands courage. We are ready to help your community stand together and rise to the occasion. We are visionary problem solvers dedicated to helping destinations, downtowns, business associations, development entities, and local governments lead the revolution to shape community development for the next generation.

Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can collaborate and engage for impact.

Below you will find areas of expertise and sample scopes. 


  • Crisis Communication

  • Community Recovery Planning Development Organizational Consolidation

  • Keynote & Motivational Speaking

  • Customer Experience Training

  • Collective Impact Implementation

  • Commercial District Collaborations

  • Small Biz Marketing and Merchandising Design

  • Placemaking & Destination Product Development

  • Digital Media & Creative Storytelling

  • Economic & Community Impact Analysis

  • Engagement & Facilitation Expertise

  • Board & Staff Training & Strategy

  • Community, Organization & Program Road Maps

  • Policy & Codification Consulting

  • Pop Up Experiences

  • Housing & Planning



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  • Brady Chamber of Commerce, Strategic Facilitation 2020

  • Keynote Speaker, Cameron Chamber of Commerce Banquet - 2020

  • Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers, Conference Presenter  - 2020

  • Main  Street America (NMSC) Conference Presenter - 2020, 2018, 2016, 2013, 2012 

  • International Placemaking Week (PPS) Conference Presenter - 2019

  • Texas Downtown Assessment Team Downtown Expert - 2019, 2017, 2014

  • City of Southside Place Commercial District Consultant - 2019 

  • City of Palestine Downtown Consultant - 2019 

  • Elgin Chamber of Commerce Strategic Planning Facilitation - 2019

  • Customer Experience Training La Grange - 2019 

  • American Planning Association TX (APA) Conference Presenter - 2019  

  • Tourism Assessment & Marketing Plan (Sub Consultant) Midland, Texas - 2019-2020

  • Tourism Assessment & Marketing Plan (Sub Consultant) Garland- 2019-2020

  • Texas Downtown Association (TDA) Conference Presenter - 2019, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011 

  • Texas Association of Convention  & Visitors Bureau (TACVB) Conference Presenter - 2018, 2017

  • Texas Historical Commission Real Places (THC) Conference Presenter - 2017 

  • Texas Main Street Summer & Winter Training Conference Presenter - 2017,  2016, 2015, 2008 

  • Main Street Resource Team Downtown Expert - 2017 & 2012 

  • Galveston Area Council of Governments (HGAC) Workshop Speaker - 2016 

  • Texas Municipal League Annual Conference (TML) Conference Presenter - 2013

  • Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) Tourism College Guest Speaker - 2019 

  • Congress for the New Urbanism  (CNU) Open Innovation Speaker - 2019

"Sarah O'Brien was the only person we'd met who had even considered the question."


- Tony Horowitz

 “Spying on the South"

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We are proud members of these organizations who serve a greater purpose than themselves!

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We are proud to partner with colleagues who are experts at things we are not!

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A cross-sector leader known for enhancing, connecting and challenging the status quo for the people, projects, and destinations she serves, Sarah’s passion for collaboration is fierce, propelling her reputation as a community catalyst, a downtown champion, and an expert generalist in all aspects of city-building. She believes she is called to inspire and empower curiosity, courage, and collaboration in the people and places whose paths she crosses.


As an award-winning passionate public servant, a community revolutionist, a dynamic speaker on the state, national and international levels, and a mentor and connector, she has been called a visionary and has had “profound” effects on her audiences. Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Horowitz stated in his final novel, Spying on the South “Sarah O’Brien was the only person we met who had even considered the question.”


Sarah spent 15 years in local government, destination, downtown, and NGO leadership roles in Texas communities and is now affecting greater change from the outside with her consultancy firm, Collaborative Development Collective. She launched the other “CDC” to redefine the rules of community development and engagement through purpose-driven planning, motivational speaking, place-based assessments and organizational realignments for Chambers, Downtowns, Economic & Community Development organizations, municipalities, destination businesses, and the tourism and hospitality industry. By breaking down silos, teaching others to forget what we think we know, and creating consensus through collective impact she is able to inspire and cultivate community change. Service is in her DNA, a two-time past president of the Texas Downtown Association, and current co-chair of its legislative committee, she also proudly serves on the Round Top Texas Chamber Board of Directors and the Smithville Historic Design Standards Commission. 

Click HERE for a current copy of Sarah's professional profile. 

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©2020 by Collaborative Development Collective.

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