Monday, March 18, 2013

Creative Connections Network Spring 2013 Newsletter

Growing the Creative
Connections Network: 

The Creative Connections Network is the alumni group of the International Center for Studies in Creativity. 

As befits a Spring newsletter, we’re excited to share with you the growth of the Creative Connections Network since our last writing.

Last winter, we told you of the revival of the CCN and introduced you to some of our work to date. At the time, we put out a call for Board members to fill key rolls. We’re pleased to introduce you in this issue to the skilled and passionate people serving in the roles of Treasurer, Professional Development, Membership Development, and Technology.

Also in this issue, an interview with Hedria Lunken – the first president of Creative Connections. Read about the days when Gerard and Sue were students, Sid and Ruth were around, and CPS was Post-It-free.

Yours in the Creative Spirit,

Amy Frazier
CCN President

The Creative Connections Board

Board Members are recruited by a search committee comprised of the Vice President and Faculty Advisor, with input from the community. They serve year-long terms, renewable up to three years.

We added a number of new members in January, who are busy with their plans for turning the CCN into a thriving alumni network. Meet the current members of the CCN:

New Board Members - 2013

Laura Ryan –  Treasurer
Laura is the founder of LAMA Innovation, a Buffalo-based consulting firm. Laura specializes is training people on the language and tools necessary in optimizing their creative potential.  In addition, Laura enjoys facilitating creative problem solving and strategic planning for private and public corporations, government agencies, and non-profits. Laura has a BSME in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University and has completed her coursework towards her MS from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State. Laura plans to graduate in May, 2013.

Laura’s goal as Treasurer is to ensure the group is fiscally sound as we carry out of the planned programs and various offerings. 

Shawn Kassirer – Technology
Shawn is currently a Business Analyst and has provided support in electronic automation, enterprise analysis, and process improvement techniques within healthcare & non-profit facilities worldwide. Shawn’s areas of interest include idea innovation, team collaboration, and finding benefits of new technology. He currently resides in Buffalo, NY where he is a member of the Project Management Institute and International Institute of Business Analysts. He is a current student in the Creativity Studies Masters Program.

As CCN Technical Advisor, Shawn is involved in the CCN database and website development. His plans include incorporating additional visual tools and platforms within the CCN website to serve the unique needs of the community, such as allowing users to electronically post and prioritize ideas, align goals with strategies, access ideas for facilitating electronically, etc.

Florian Rustler, ‘10  - Professional Development
Florian is an innovation coach based in Munich, Germany. He is founder and managing partner of creaffective. He supports organizations worldwide in German, English and Mandarin Chinese to become more innovative. Prior to his degree at the ICSC he studied Political Science, Psychology and Chinese in Munich and Taiwan. He graduated from the ICSC in 2010.

Florian's goal is to facilitate alumni in finding work, training and conference opportunities around the world. His plans include setting up an online database/resource listing that allows people to search for and enter information related to conferences, trainings and work and writing opportunities.

Cory Wright, ‘99 – Membership Director
Cory is a 1999 ICSC graduate residing in Rochester, NY.  While working as a Sales Engineer in Utah, he caught the “Creativity Bug” trying to help his employer adapt to the wave of outsourcing taking place in the 90’s.  Now he is establishing a nonprofit called Creative Leadership America, is a partner with ZiDEAS Creativity and Innovation Group and a part-time educator.  Cory was honored to write the case studies found in the book “Creative Leadership, Skills that Drive Change.”  He is actively researching and speaking on topics related to creativity and innovation. 

As Membership Director, Cory’s focus is to facilitate and coordinate efforts to promote and engage alumni through building a sense of community, collaboration, and valued connectedness. Look for signs of his work at creativity conferences near you.

Courtney Johnson-Woods – Communications
Courtney Johnson-Woods is a college instructor and director of Clarkson University’s Writing Center. She is also a consultant working for clients primarily in the forest products and biofuels sectors. She completed a graduate certificate at ICSC in 2009, and a year later went back to obtain her Ph.D. at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Her research interests include the intersection of people, their sense of and connections to “place,” and the natural environment.

Courtney has assumed the position of communications with CCN. Her goal is to promote communication among alumni and increase connections between alum practitioners, the ICSC, and current and future creativity studies students. Her hope is to increase the visibility of the CCN through traditional communications and social media platforms.

Returning Board Members - 2013

Amy Frazier ’11 – President
Amy works in the field of organizational and leadership development through her company Stages of Presence, and is also a contributor at Innovation Bound. With a background in theatre, she brings a deep awareness of the artistic process to creativity and leadership development. Amy has contributed a chapter on creativity and leadership for the forthcoming book on Big Questions in Creativity Studies 2013, to be published by the ICSC Press this year.

Amy is working on Board development and increasing the visibility of and participation in the CCN.

Stavros Michailidis ’10 – Vice President
As founder of Innovation Bound, Stavros consults with global enterprises, academic institutions, government agencies & NGO's on their innovation initiatives and in creating valuable thought leadership. He conducts research and guest lectures at the University level and his presentations have been recognized and received awards at creativity conferences. In addition to his MS in Creative studies, Stavros holds a Bachelor Degree in Project Management.

Stavros main focus is to recruit great talent from our alumni pool to the CCN board.  We still have to fill two more spots, so contact him if you're interested : )

For current open positions, scroll down. 

Interview with Hedria Lunken on

Creative Connections, the early days:

 By Amy Frazier, '11 and Hedria Lunken, '90, Founder and first CCN President 

Q:  When did you graduate? 
A: 1990.

Q: When did you begin the CCN? 
A: In 1989 we were a small group of students and under 100 graduates.  The course of study was very intense and we felt the need to get together socially and include our families. We planned weekends at the lodge, skiing, making meals together and practicing our presentations.  In addition many of the graduates wanted to reconnect with the profs and since they were often busy with other students, this gave them a way to stay connected (hence the name creative connections, coined by Rita Ganim) to the program and meet new people who were involved. We wanted to get everybody connected, to know each other. In class you’re so busy…

Q: What was the department like at the time?
A: Roger Firestien, Scott Isaksen, and Mary Murdock were our teachers. I was in Mary’s first classes. She helped get the CCN started by giving extra credit to Dennis Carter to help me organize the group.  Sue Keller-Mathers and I went through the program together, she has also served as CNN president . Gerard was a student, one year ahead of our group.  I was one of the first students Roger guided through a master’s paper. Sid and Ruth were around, but not teaching. Ruth became my mentor. You knew they were the stars. And, there were no post-its! We wrote and rewrote. Should have invested in 3M, but we didn’t.

Q: What were some of the hot topics at the time? 
A:It was still the very beginning – were we psychology, or not psychology? We were carving out that it was a discipline on its own. When we interviewed companies for jobs, we needed to explain what creativity was, and how we could benefit their company to convince them to hire us. Now creativity is a core competency in many companies. It was the beginning of creativity training in most industries.

Q: If you could grant the current CCN one wish that you could pick, what would it be?
A: Stay connected. The graduates and students are a special group of people, who have been trained in a very special discipline, to think in a positive/creative way:  they are fun, interested and interesting, and extremely open and helpful to each other. 

Open Board Positions with the CCN...

Want to become involved in the revival of the Creative Connections Network? Over the next several months we will be looking for people who would be interested in serving in the following positions. Contact us at to learn more.

Current Creative Connections Board
Amy Frazier, President
Stavros Michailidis, Vice President
Laura Ryan, Treasurer
Shawn Kassirer, Technology
Florian Rustler, Professional Development
Cory Wright, Membership Director
Courtney Johnson-Woods, Communications
Dr. Cyndi Burnett, Faculty Advisor

Open Positions

Documenting our work through minutes and cataloging materials.
Special Projects
A dedicated person for trying new things, such as community outreach, funding sources, etc.

Creative Class Notes

Jonathan Vehar ’95, along with David Horth, had a white paper published by the Center for Creative Leadership entitled, "How to become a Leader of Innovation" and were also interviewed by European CEO magazine about innovation leadership for a special edition that was distributed at the Davos Conference in January. Jonathan also '95 facilitated conversations after the four keynotes at the IIR "Back End of Innovation" conference in Boston in October 2012.

Linda Salna and Shari Walczak are partnering to earn their final credits working on an Independent Study Project to increase the awareness and engagement in 
World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15-21, 2013), founded by ICSC alumna Marci Segal over 10 years ago.  The Toronto pair is collaborating with a team to create a repeatable framework that other regions can follow. To keep up-to-date with the project, like the page on Facebook

Lee Anne White '11 recently published Her Own Way: Creating an Authentic Life, a guide to self-discovery for college women and recent graduates. It features a mix of stories, interviews and creative exercises, and is designed to help young women explore their passions, tap their talents, develop a creative mindset and embrace life's journey.

Ismet Mamnoon ’13 has been awarded both The President's Medal, the highest honor awarded to a student by Buffalo State College, and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award, the highest honor bestowed by SUNY upon a student. The awards recognize Izzy’s outstanding achievements in academics, community service and leadership, among other contributions. Izzy will deliver the student address at Commencement in May.

Laura Barbero Switalski '03 is the recipient of this year's Creative Studies Alumni Achievement Award. The Award honors graduates of the program who are making a long-term impact in the field of creativity. Laura's work includes founding the CREA Conference, serving as adjunct faculty, and contributing to the development of the Thinking Skills Model. Laura has coauthored the book Creativity Rising: Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving in the 21st Century, published by ICSC Press in April 2012. She will be presented with the Alumni Achievement Award in a ceremony on May 18.

Got a Creative Class Note to share? We'd love to publish it! Send info to