The People

The CEF Staff

Beth Miller
Executive Director

Beth MillerBeth is a 10-year veteran in nonprofit management and fundraising. She embraces continued education and recently completed fellowships with Third Sector New England and the UMass Boston Center for Collaborative Leadership Emerging Leaders Program. Beth served as a senior leader at the Boston Debate League, The Mark Twain House & Museum, and the Hartford Youth Scholars Foundation. Beth also taught writing at Trinity College, and was a writing fellow and lecturer at Quinnipiac University. She received her B.A. in Women’s Studies and her M.A. in American Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. Beth is a Trustee of the Ahearn Family Foundation and a board member of the Trinity National Alumni Association and Emerging Leaders Program Alumni Board. She is also an active member of The Boston Club. Beth lives with her husband Jim Smith and their Labrador Gus. She is collaborating with a playwright to bring her undergraduate writing project on Prudence Crandall to the stage.

Jamie Robinson
Office Manager

jamieJamie is the Office Manager at the CEF office in Scituate, MA. Her career prior to CEF has been doing bookkeeping for local businesses. Jamie and her husband have two children and live in Marshfield, MA. She is also an avid runner and has completed the Boston Marathon in 2008 and 2015.


Steven Dahlberg
CPSI Director

DahlbergSteven has 25 years of experience collaborating with diverse experts from around the world to help people better understand how to tap into and apply both individual and collective creative thinking. He founded and directs the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination and was a founding board member of the National Creativity Network. Steven developed and taught undergraduate and graduate creativity courses and seminars for the University of Connecticut, Yale University, Post University, Rhode Island College, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, among other universities. In addition, he has worked with organizations, including the World Cultural Economic Forum, GE, Google, Pilobolus, Guggenheim Museum, Lincoln Center Institute, IBM, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Yahoo!, UNESCO, General Mills, Microsoft, Louisiana’s Office of the Lt. Governor, New Economics Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.

Beth Slazak
CPSI Manager

Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Buffalo in History with a minor in Dance, a Social Studies Certification in Education from Buffalo State, and a Masters of Science in Creative Studies from Buffalo State. Beth spends her time at the Creativity Center focusing on using creative tools to bring fun and laughter into the world. Beth has a passion for improv and enjoys studying it at Buffalo Comedy Sports and Toronto Second City. She is also a member of the Applied Improvisers Network, a group devoted to bringing improv off the stage into the world so that everyone can play.

CEF Board of Trustees

Duane Wilson

Duane WilsonDuane is a seasoned organizational leader specializing in innovation and creativity initiatives. He helps organizations build problem-solving capability to foster collaborative solutions. As Program Director, office of Continuous Improvement at the University of Notre Dame, he is charged with providing internal consulting services to campus units involved in Continuous Improvement (CI). Duane coaches and trains individuals and CI project teams, performs data analysis, and manages CI projects

Duane is an Adjunct Faculty Member of Beacon Health’s Pheil Innovation Center that aims to help for-profit and non-profit organizations develop Innovation as a core competency. Duane is also a licensed high school administrator and teacher. Duane is known as a creative collaborator. He identifies problems, gathers allies, and works together toward shared goals.

Clare Dus
Vice Chair

Clare DusAs a member of the Sensory Spectrum consulting team, Clare designs and executes technical approaches to product evaluation. She has tasted, smelled, felt, and looked at a wide range of products, including food, beverages, personal care products, ethicals, paper, and fabric. Clare is a trained facilitator in Creative Problem Solving. Her recent work has resulted in applying Polarity Management to understanding consumer challenges.

Suzie Nussel

Suzie NusselSuzie is a marketing consultant with more than 20 years of experience in marketing strategy, brand management, marketing communications, and product innovation. Prior to starting her own business, she worked for AOL, where she developed and launched new digital products for consumers, a $100-million business. She has also worked in the K-12 educational software industry for 15 years in roles including SVP of Innovation, sales management, and Creative Services management. “Getting things done” is her motto, and she brings enthusiasm and drive to her projects. Suzie has worked with CEF YouthWise™ both at CPSI as CEF YouthWise™ Coordinator (2008-13) and in South Africa (’07). Most recently, she was Board Liaison for CPSI (2013, 2014). Suzie enjoys photography, travel, daily walks, and exploring new things.

Bob Leahy

Robert LeahyFor the past thirty years, Bob has been a leader and “C”-level executive for publicly traded and late-stage software-as-a-service and other high technology companies. Bob is a skilled operations, finance and administration professional with experience in all aspects of business management, including strategic planning, initial public offerings and other financings, mergers and acquisitions, business divestitures, international operations, human resources, financial and operating systems, and technology licensing.

Bob is currently an Executive in Residence at Bentley University’s Career Services providing mentor/career coaching to Bentley alumni. Bob is also involved with the Athena PowerLink Progam as an Advisory Panel member. This federally funded program is intended to assist woman owned businesses with advice and guidance from volunteer professionals. Bob is also involved with Root Causes/Social Innovation Forum for social impacting investing and non-profit operations.

Dan Bigonesse
Board Member

Dan BigonesseAs a trainer and facilitator, Dan has spent the last 20 years helping people expand their thinking and discover new possibilities. With his quick wit, probing questioning skills, and productive thinking techniques, Dan helps clients engage their whole brain and find productive solutions to their challenges. Whether facilitating a training workshop, a new product ideation, a strategic planning session, or just a plain old meeting, Dan brings his positive energy and passion to the task. He is known for delivering high-content sessions in a relaxed and entertaining style. Underlying Dan’s passion for productive thinking is a deep commitment to helping people learn and achieve useful outcomes. Dan is a member of the Creative Education Foundation and on the faculty of the Creative Problem Solving Institute. He is also a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Dan makes his home in Ottawa where he lives with his daughter and his two quadrupeds. When not working, you can find Dan training to master the arts of jiu-jitsu, cooking, and photography.

Therese Fuerst
Board Member

Fuerst As founder and president of Fuerst Consulting Corporation, Therese is chief creative problem solver and strategist on behalf of her clients.

Therese holds a BA in Pre-Law and Communication Studies from Canisius College and an MS in Public Relations Management from State University of New York College at Buffalo. The inaugural recipient of the 2012 Amherst Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year Award; Therese was also a finalist for the 2012 Athena Young Professional of the Year Award; is a Business First Forty Under Forty Award winner and graduate of Leadership Buffalo.

An active community member, Hickok volunteers her time with several community, civic and professional organizations including the Canisius College Board of Regents, the Foundation Board of Child and Adolescent Treatment Services, and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County Marketing Committee. When not working you’ll find Therese enjoying her favorite pastime – being Mom and enjoying family time.

Charlie Garland
Board Member

Charlie is President of The Innovation Outlet, an independent team of innovation and business strategy consultants; he is also a Senior Fellow at HITLAB (Healthcare Innovation & Technology Laboratory) @ Columbia University Medical Center. Charlie has helped drive innovation across a wide range of industries and organizations, including Financial Services, Professional Services, Healthcare, Education, Consumer Products, and more.  He has developed an entire portfolio of novel innovation tools, methods, and logical models (Cognitive Buoyancy®, The Innovation Cube™, Value-Driven Thinking™, and more), working with business leaders to improve strategies, with doctors to reduce diagnostic errors, and with NASA to improve astronauts’ cognitive performance. Charlie is married to Pauline Turley, Vice Chair of the Irish Arts Center in New York City. Charlie, who grew up on Cape Cod, MA, earned his MBA from The Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and currently lives and works in New York City.

Thom Gonyeau
Immediate Past Chair

Thom GonyeauThom is an owner and principal at Mountain View Group, an award-winning creative agency with a focus on content creation, media production, design, and strategic communications based in Atlanta and New York. Clients include leaders at GE, The Coca-Cola Company, Raytheon, Alcon, CSM Bakery Solutions, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector. A graduate of the College of Saint Rose with BA and MA degrees in Public Communications, Thom has been recognized as a Top 100 Producer, one of Capital District Business Review’s Forty Under 40 (back when he was under 40), and was named a notable alum of his alma mater.  Off-the-job Thom enjoys music and theatre performance, creative writing, tennis, running, photography, travel, and working at being a better dad and husband.

Sunil Gupta, Ph.D.
Board Member

Chief Learning Officer, Chief Innovation Instigator, and Chief Innovation Officer of IDEAS with more than 34 years of experience, Sunil and has trained in more than 60 countries. He was born in a beautiful town of Jammu, India. Sunil had his early education in Mumbai and then lived and worked in the U.S. He completed his graduate degree and doctoral research at NYU and worked for Colgate Palmolive. He has been working with Dr. Edward de Bono for the past 24 years and is a Lifetime master trainer. He has trained more than 350,000 people and has authored 5 books. Sunil is the recipient of several global awards and loves creativity.

Ismet Mamnoon
Board Member

MamnoonIzzy is a change catalyst. She started her career as a financial consultant and evolved to become a serial entrepreneur. She was first drawn to the field of creativity and innovation when she became a parent. She has spoken about this journey on the TEDx stage.

Her acumen for translating creativity from theory into practice is evident in her diverse range of projects and clients. Izzy has worked with large organizations, entrepreneurs, governments, academics, not-for-profits, educators, parents, and children all over the world. Her clients range in age from 5 to “undisclosed” and include the Office of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the National Institute of Education Sciences for the Peoples Republic of China.

Izzy frequently shares her expertise at conferences across the globe. She delivers workshops and immersive experiences at creativity conferences in the USA, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. She is a graduate of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State where she received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the President’s Medal for Outstanding Graduate Student at Buffalo State, and the Firestien Family Creative Achievement award for her work in the field of creative thinking and facilitation. She is a certified facilitator of FourSight, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Polarity Thinking, and Accelerated Learning.

Susan Robertson
Board Member

Susan RobertsonSusan is an innovation expert, speaker, author, facilitator, and trainer. She was a keynote speaker at the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center Innovation Expo, and she teaches a popular course in creative thinking at Harvard University. She’s a frequent lecturer and trainer in creativity and innovation across the U.S. and around the world, having worked in places as diverse as South Africa, Italy, South Korea, Sweden, the U.K., China, France, Brazil, Mexico, and Greece.

Some of the world’s largest corporations call on her to consult with them on on innovation initiatives, strategy, and culture. She has particular expertise in leading customer-centered innovation. Clients include Georgia Pacific, PPG, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Kashi, PetSmart, Frito-Lay, Novartis, Pizza Hut, AstraZeneca, Procter & Gamble, HGTV, Quaker Oats, and Bank of America, among others.

Susan is a volunteer mentor with Take Stock in Children, a program designed to enable disadvantaged youth to break out of the trap of poverty.

Steven Shama, MD, MPH
Board Member

Steve ShamaSteve holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College, a Medical Degree from Temple University School of Medicine and a Masters Degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. For more than 30 years, Steve has been in private practice in dermatology and has been on the medical staff of the New England Deaconess Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. In 2010, Steve retired from medicine to devote more time to his other life expression, professional speaking. Through his passionate keynote speeches and dynamic workshops both nationally and internationally, Steve’s inspirational stories and concrete examples help medical professionals, general audiences, and our youth learn how to communicate and connect in these challenging times, making it possible for them to rediscover their essences and their joys of life. His relationship with the Creative Education Foundation and his 15 years of attendance at the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute has changed his life and he is excited to share his creative expression with others.

CEF’s Lifetime Trustees

parnes_sidneyDr. Sidney J. Parnes (1922 – 2013)
Sid Parnes is professor emeritus and founding director of the Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College (1967). Sid met the CEF Founder, Alex Osborn, at the very first CPSI and took the conference content and morphed it into a “How to” conference, piloting this idea in his Creative Retailing Conference in 1956 at the University of Pittsburgh. Impressed with his initiative, Alex recruited Sid to work with him and evolve the model shortly thereafter.

From 1967 to 1984 Sid served as President of the Creative Education Foundation. He was the premier researcher on the development of creative behavior, so much so that he decided to launch The Journal of Creative Behavior (in ’67); the longest running and foremost academic journal dedicated to creativity in the world. He is responsible for assembling the most comprehensive library on creativity with more than 2,400 volumes. Throughout his career, Sid has emphasized two key principles on deliberate creativity. First, creativity is the result of a balance between divergent and convergent thinking and second; everyone can be taught to apply creative behavior in their personal and professional lives.

Gordon A. MacLeod (1926 – 2010)
Retired Partner, Hodgson & Russ LLP

Marion Osborn (1922 – 2008)
Past Secretary, Creative Education Foundation, Inc. 

Past Board Chairs / Presidents 

2010 – 2014
Katherine O. Heusner, Ph.D.

2004 – 2010
David Magellan Horth
Senior Designer, Center for Creative Leadership

2004 – 2007
Hedria Lunken
Author, Speaker and Founder of Hedria Consulting

2001 – 2004
John Osborn

1997 – 2001
KT Connor

1994 – 1997
Lyman Randall (1933 – 2009)

1988 – 1994
Dorie A. Shallcross
Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts

1984 – 1988
Raymond A. Binis

1967 – 1984
Sidney J. Parnes
Co-founder of the International Center for Studies in Creativity

1964 – 1967
Lee Bristol
Former Head of Manufacturing and Advertising, Bristol-Meyers Company

1955 – 1964
Alex F. Osborn (1888 – 1966)
Founder, Creative Education Foundation

Trustees Emeriti

Robert F. Berner
Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo

Louis Gersten (1922 – 2010)
Retired President, Utilo Corporation and Board Member, National Stroke Association

Beatrice Parnes

Doris J. Shallcross
Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts

Paul Torrance, Ph.D. (1915 – 2003)

The People of CEF

Meet the people behind CEF, including the staff, the current board of trustees, lifetime trustees, past presidents, and trustees emeriti. Learn More »

A History of CEF

Founded in 1954, CEF is the recognized world leader in Applied Imagination. Learn more about the history of our organization. Learn More »

CEF Awards

Take a look at the amazing people recognized by CEF for their innovative contributions to creativity, their communities, and the world around them. Learn More »