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Building Better Communities with Art

Published on June 21, 2019

In a world rife with division, artists have the power to bridge distances and bring people together. Through art exploration and education, we can understand diversity, develop empathy and build better communities. M. Teresa Valero, Founder and Creative Director of Third Floor Design, is an inspiring example of how art can bring positive change within communities.  Renowned for her service to the Tulsa art community spanning three decades, Teresa is among the six recipients of the Pinnacle Women of the Year 2019 Award; an honor that she says, she is “absolutely delighted by.” 

An invaluable resource for Zarrow Pointe, Teresa generously shares her time, energy and creative skills with the Zarrow Pointe Marketing Committee as a volunteer. She is also a key advocate of the Zarrow Pointe philosophy of care and views Zarrow Pointe as a “top-notch facility,” where seniors can pursue their passions, forge new connections and live a meaningful life.

M.TeresaValero, Founder and Creative Director ofThird Floor Design

Teresa’s journey in art education began in 1980, when her passion for graphic design brought her from her native country Venezuela to the University of Kansas, where she met her husband, and acquired a dual Bachelor’s degree in art history and graphic design, followed by a Master’s degree in art history.

Shortly thereafter, Teresa accepted a teaching position at her alma mater, but a move to Tulsa brought her to the University of Tulsa where she founded Third Floor Design – a full-service agency that gives art students a platform to do pro bono design work for non-profits. Initially conceived as a project exclusively for Tulsa, Third Floor Design is now a full-scale effort serving non-profits across Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Philadelphia, Florida and California.

Since its inception in 1994, the program has contributed 1.5 million dollars in design work to non-profits nationwide, while empowering students to support worthwhile causes that can change lives. An important component of Third Floor Design is the Citizen Designers initiative, which caters to disadvantaged communities by integrating art and design into the public sector. Designed to instill a sense of volunteerism and civic duty in students, the Citizen Designers initiative is creating the next generation of socially engaged artists, eager to make a difference. 

As an educator, Teresa finds Zarrow Pointe’s philosophy of lifelong learning a huge asset to residents and the Tulsa community. “By keeping its educational programs accessible to residents and people in the community, Zarrow Pointe is doing a great service to Tulsa and has set a high benchmark for senior living, learning and care.” ZP

Building Better Communities with Art
By Aaliya Briggs

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