- Andy Burnett BUFFALO, NY
- Annemarie Boss ST. PETERSBURG, FL
- Costa Michailidis NEW YORK, NY
- David Lomas LEAMINGTON SPA, UK
- Donnalyn Roxey COLUMBUS, OH
- Effie (Michailidis) Kistner SOUTH SALEM, NY
- Izzy Mamnoon BUFFALO, NY
- Jocelyn Tejeda BUFFALO, NY
- John Cabra BUFFALO, NY
- Maggie Dugan BARCELONA, SPAIN
- Malachi Greaves ST. PETERSBURG, FL
- Najja Bouldin BUFFALO, NY
- Stavros Michailidis ST. PETERSBURG, FL
- Tim Dunne BARCELONA, SPAIN
- Tim Morley BIRMINGHAM, UK
- Toby Scott UK & IRELAND
- Trish Chilton Suffolk, UK
- Yota Michailidis ST. PETERSBURG, FL
- Zach Stapleton-Jones ST. PETERSBURG, FL
- Joe Pacal Prague, CZ
- Emma Skipper London, UK
- Puleng Makhoalibe Lesotho, ZA
Andy’s work in deliberate creativity was the inspiration behind the first Sandpit in the U.K. (called Ideas Labs in the U.S.). He is a recovering academic who holds an undergraduate degree in Management Science from Loughborough University and a Master’s degree in Creativity and Change Management from the State University of New York in Buffalo. Andy served as a research fellow in the Entrepreneurship department of the Cranfield School of Management, where he co-developed the Centre for Creativity. He is one of KI’s tech gurus, developing KI’s virtual events.
Andy was still at the Cranfield School of Management when he facilitated his first workshop for scientists. While it’s true that the facilitation team was able to surprise researchers with their own ingenuity, they also wound up surprising themselves. It turned out that deliberate creativity managed to do for scientists what they had been trying to do for decades: break down silos and accelerate innovation. According to Andy, it was all a happy accident.
Andy’s co-workers appreciate his empowering style. They note he has never been heard telling anyone what they ‘should’ do. Co-workers and clients alike appreciate the way he listens to their stream of consciousness ideas or the challenges they are experiencing. He summarizes what he has heard, giving a novel perspective on how to move forward or resolve difficulties.
Annemarie is a facilitator who thrives on variety. She joined KI in 2018 and has since been enjoying the challenges of helping scientists tackle messy problems. A graduate of Stetson University, Annemarie also continues to facilitate workshops at The Dalí Museum’s Innovation Labs in St. Petersburg, FL, where she has been helping clients view their business challenges through the works of Salvador Dalí since 2015.
Outside of business and science challenges, Annemarie also facilitates empowerment workshops for women facing challenges such as houselessness and domestic abuse. KI’s clients appreciate Annemarie’s calm professionalism in handling large groups. Her coworkers appreciate the way she predicts the energy of a room, her ability to keep a group on track and the way she channels her inner mad scientist when creating new recipes in the kitchen.
Participants at KI workshops appreciate Costa’s enthusiasm for science and his strong presence at the front of the room. (They also notice he has a penchant for doodling on his jeans.) Costa enjoys the technical challenges KI has to offer, recently designing an event that was attended physically (in three locations) and virtually by 500 participants. As a coworker, he leads by example, showing up with an open mind and an open heart, facing unforeseen challenges with flexibility and agility — two qualities that serve him well as a trained gymnast. And, don’t be surprised to see him doing a handstand at a workshop. It’s simply Costa’s way of getting a new perspective to the challenge at hand.
Dave is a KI facilitator and Tech wiz who can sort out both creative problem solving challenges and technical tangles—sometimes simultaneously—with ease. He has earned three degrees, including a Ph.D., in computer science from the University of York. He spent 12 years working in computer science before becoming Manager, and later Head of Innovation & Creativity, at the Royal Mail’s Innovation Lab, which he grew into a world renowned corporate creativity center. He is a founding member of KI and has been a regular leader of the European Creativity Conference (CREA).
Dave has the uncanny ability to translate geek-speak into plain English—all with a dry sense of humor appreciated by clients and coworkers alike. He is among those at KI responsible for designing and facilitating virtual events, some of which number in the hundreds of participants. During both in-person and virtual workshops, Dave prepares participants for what’s coming, allowing for seamless transitions in ideas and activities. No need for seat belts; it’s always a smooth ride with Dave at the workshop wheel!
Donnalyn is arguably science’s biggest fan. As a facilitator for KI, clients recognize her for being detail-oriented, super-organized and dedicated to meeting their needs. Donnalyn is the lone KI facilitator who started out as a client before being lured to the dark…, um, being encouraged to pursue the study of creativity as a way to evolve her love of championing scientists and advancing scientific progress. She has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park and a graduate certificate in Creativity and Change Leadership from the State University of New York’s International Center for Studies in Creativity in Buffalo.
Donnalyn has over a decade of experience in research development at The Ohio State University which gives her a comprehensive understanding of scientific funding and the needs of KI’s clients. Clients appreciate this shared history, as well as her endless energy, glowing smile and attentiveness. Her coworkers appreciate her contagious enthusiasm and generous nature. She refuses, however, to share where she found those shoes with the built-in trampolines. (If you find out, let us know.)
Effie (Michailidis) Kistner
Effie is proof that the Michailidis family carries a creativity gene, one also inherited by at least two of her nephews. Effie is a KI facilitator who has the unique ability to solve problems before anyone knows they exist. This skill served her well in her career in the financial services industry. Effie spent over 20 years working for companies like JP Morgan Chase, Moody’s Investors Service and Ambac Assurance Corporation. She holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from the City University of New York’s Baruch College and was responsible for restructuring billions of dollars in distressed debt in the student loan sector.
Effie is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Creativity and Creative Leadership from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York, Buffalo. She finds facilitation fascinating and science intriguing. Both clients and coworkers say they feel supported by Effie and notice the attention and care with which she performs her job. Effie enjoys the flexibility and diversity her job entails, as well as working with the KI team. Any day now we expect a video of her dogs taking part in a KI video call to go viral.
Izzy is like kryptonite to any workshop skeptic. By the end of the day, they have participated fully and are glad they came. Izzy has an infectious love for people and a passion for helping them realize their creative potential. She is also living proof that anyone can be creative as an accountant-turned-facilitator who shares with others the power of creativity to transform an otherwise uncreative life and career.
Izzy has a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Exeter in the U.K. and a Master’s degree in Creativity from the International Center for Creativity Studies at the State University of New York, Buffalo. She is the founder of Beyonder, which applies the principles of creativity to parenting and fostering a creativity mindset in the next generation. She was featured in TIME magazine’s special edition on the science of creativity
Izzy’s KI teammates value the way her presence instantly warms a room and puts people at ease. Clients appreciate her enthusiasm, sense of humor and her impressive ability to listen and recall what people say. With Izzy at the helm, clients and coworkers both feel set up for success. Izzy is the first to admit she struggled when she first became a parent. (See her Tedx Talk.) Now her maternal nature is one of the things her coworkers love most about her. Some suspect she is parenting them in some subliminal way, while others simply wait in line for one of her healing hugs.
Jocelyn is a street-smart academic and KI facilitator. She is an Educational Opportunity Program counselor and adjunct professor at the State University of New York Buffalo, where she earned a Master’s degree in Higher Education and a Master’s in Creativity and Change Leadership from the International Center for Studies in Creativity. Jocelyn runs Buffalo State’s EOP Summer Academy and is one of the first friendly faces students from underrepresented groups see when they get to college. Jocelyn is not only one of their instructors, she is a graduate of the program. Whether it’s organizing events in the Latino community or working to empower women, Jocelyn walks the walk.
Jocelyn’s KI coworkers take comfort in knowing that she is a fully committed team player who will take on whatever role is required to best serve the outcomes of a workshop and the people in it. Clients find she radiates strength and positivity. She is a foodie known for making the best comfort food. She enjoys the spiritual adventure of travel and the joy of an impromptu dance party. So, if you hear a Latin beat, look out: you’ll soon be dancing, too!
John’s superpower as a facilitator is empathy. His reassuring presence, words of wisdom and understanding smile are always just what participants need to get past any feelings of uncertainty or discomfort with ambiguity. Being an academic researcher himself, John connects with participants in a collegial way that puts them at ease. He speaks their language. John is a Fulbright Scholar who holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the Manchester School of Business. Currently, he is a Professor at the State University of New York’s Center for Creativity and Change Leadership in Buffalo, from which he earned a Master’s degree. His undergraduate degree from Buffalo State is in Business Studies. He was an operations manager at American Airlines and worked at Fisher-Price Toys. Today, as part of a team, John conducts research on the science of creativity and facilitating creative thinking.
John is also the Director and Founder of the Myanmar Service Learning and Civic Engagement Program. This work represents his quiet but unwavering commitment to making a difference. He overcame many political, professional and personal obstacles to bring this program to fruition. Just as he envisioned it, the program promotes social justice and helps the people of Myanmar confidently use their creative thinking to address challenges facing their country. John’s KI co-workers appreciate that he is a value-based facilitator. He can always be counted on to help them understand and respond to situations based on their own values. That clarity allows them to make better decisions and choices. They also like working with him because he can go from serious work-mode to slap-stick comedy and back in 4 seconds flat.
Maggie is a facilitator, founding member of KI and leads KI’s Inclusive Innovation initiative, partnering with organizations in developing countries to improve the lives of people in resource-poor communities. She was instrumental in the creation of the Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP), which has given rise to leadership programs for early career scientists in Southeast Asia (ASEAN-SLP) and around the world. Maggie is a regular facilitator and presenter at the European Creativity Conference (CREA). She got her start in radio broadcasting, including serving as Vice President at NewCity Communications and Emmis Broadcasting International before she became a full time creativity facilitator. She holds a B.A. in History and Semiotics from Brown University.
KI’s clients appreciate the way Maggie fully invests in their intentions, problems and goals. There is no-one-size-fits-all for Maggie. She will go to great lengths to deliver whatever will get them the best possible outcome. Maggie has the soul of a writer and the hair of a rock star. She is a writer of both professional and personal blogs. Maggie is living the humble life of an American expat in Barcelona, returning to Paris where she lived for many years to get her signature hairstyle done.
KI producer Malachi holds a degree in Entrepreneurship Studies from the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. He is the closest thing to an HR department a bunch of cat-herding rulebreakers would ever allow. Malachi’s love of socializing and supporting others are well-suited to his official and unofficial roles at KI. He always appears comfortable with the ambiguity that comes with the job, helps others frame their thoughts and is quick to lend a hand to co-workers and clients alike.
Workshop participants appreciate that Malachi quickly solves technical problems, easily handles the challenges of a virtual event and gives concise directions when it matters most. His coworkers appreciate the way he helps bring order to KI operations, meetings and the onboarding of new team members. Rumor has it that he enjoys dancing, however whether he is really a champion clog-dancer is in dispute.
Clients will notice right away that Najja is a people person who listens intently and enjoys engaging with them. He is a facilitator driven by curiosity and the belief in the capacity of every person to achieve their fullest potential. Workshop participants appreciate how he tunes into their experience, while his coworkers admire that his mind and his heart are always open in equal measure. He earned a B.A. in Psychology from Buffalo University and a Master’s of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership from the State University of New York, Buffalo, where he is now an Adjunct Lecturer.
In addition to working with scientists around the world, Najja works with Buffalo’s local youth. He has an uncanny ability to get moody teenagers to care about creativity and entrepreneurship. Najja is a fan of science, a cheerleader for ideas and an empowering coach. His talents are equalled only by his stylish hair and amazing collection of fashionable sweaters.
Stavros has been facilitating KI events since 2009 and today he focuses on leading KI’s operations. He brings to KI his experience as an entrepreneur, having co-founded a design build firm, a disaster recovery not-for-profit and an eco-friendly dry cleaning business. Despite his business background, Stavros knew Science had captured his heart when he found himself preferring to read Science News over Harvard Business Review while stuck at airports between flights.
Stavros also brings to KI a strong academic background in creative problem solving. He earned a Masters of Science in Creativity Studies from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. He was a frequent guest lecturer and research collaborator at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas where he and his wife honeymooned for two years. More recently, he served as an Instructor of Entrepreneurship & Creative in Residence at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.
Clients appreciate the way Stavros simultaneously balances their needs with those of the participants and the facilitation team. He has been compared to a powerful zoom lens, going effortlessly from viewing the big picture to honing in on the details. A group of overwhelmed participants might see this skill in action when Stavros is able to zero in on the underlying reason for the block the group is experiencing. With a reassuring calm, he gives them a roadmap to overcoming the obstacle and getting back on track. Likewise, his KI teammates are reassured by the way he sticks to his signature workshop attire with 95 percent accuracy. (Don’t worry, you’ll soon be as disappointed as they are with his lack of personal expression in that department too!)
According to author Anne Lamott, “laughter is carbonated holiness.” If that’s the case, then Tim (a.k.a. Tag) is the spiritual elder of KI. As a facilitator, he has the ability to transform a room full of jet-lagged scientists into a cathedral of laughter, energizing them for a day of vigorous innovation. Rumor has it that his former career in finance was just a cover for his nightly gigs in improv comedy. He has an undergraduate degree in economics and an MBA in finance from the University of Rochester and is co-author of a 2014 book entitled Never Be Closing: How to Sell Better Without Screwing Your Clients, Your Colleagues, or Yourself.
True to the book’s title, Tim brings high ethical standards and an obvious love for people to his work at KI. He loves nothing better than to see people realize their dreams and achieve their true potential. That’s why, he serves as a volunteer counselor, sits on the board and established an endowment for the non-profit Summer Stars Camp for the Performing Arts, a Massachusetts summer camp for economically disadvantaged youth that gives kids the chance to discover themselves and their potential through the arts.
Workshop participants and facilitators alike appreciate the generous and thoughtful gift of feedback Tim offers throughout a workshop. His colleagues appreciate the support he gives them to grow personally and professionally. And, clients and coworkers alike may notice a glint in Tim’s eye when he hears an idea at a workshop that he suspects will change the course of a researcher’s career, as well as science itself. Tim is an endless font of energy and has found many ways outside of work to expend it: basketball and biking, just to name a few. And, if all else fails, he’ll simply go for a swim, jumping in the nearest body of water — no matter the size or the temperature
Maya Angelou is quoted as saying that people will forget what you said and did, “but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That’s likely the reason Tim gets so many repeat requests for his services as a designer and facilitator of KI workshops. When there is excessive and unhelpful nervous energy in a workshop room, he becomes a copper conduit of helpful energy towards the task in hand.
Tim is one of KI’s founding facilitators and a co-creator of the first Sandpit in the U.K. At the time, he was managing the Royal Mail’s Innovation Lab. (Sandpits became Ideas Labs in the U.S.) Tim has an undergraduate degree in Production Engineering and Production Management from Aston University in Birmingham, U.K. and a Master’s degree in Creativity and Creative Leadership from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
KI workshop participants appreciate Tim’s gentle way of challenging them, leaving them space to contribute, negotiate and explore. His coworkers appreciate his unflappable nature. At one event, Tim was unfazed by a power outage, encouraging participants who were in the middle of presentation to continue. His relaxed approach settled the room instantly.
Tim enjoys living on his houseboat and playing the ukulele. His internal battery, which is a patented secret, is recharged by the energy created in a room where human souls are given the space to run free and be creative.
Toby is a KI facilitator, tech guru, and prostletizer of all things creative. He is a natural to help lead KI’s development of Micro Lab’s and other virtual events. In fact, Toby led the first virtual Ideas Lab that included 100 people. Both clients and coworkers are reassured by his presence at the helm of a virtual workshop. He is agile with the technology, at ease in front of the camera, and can be counted on to assemble all the pieces that need to come together to make participants realize their productivity potential. Toby is passionate about the power of creativity and the power of technology to share that widely.
Toby’s technical toolkit is equalled by his professional one. He does a lot of different kinds of facilitation. In addition to academic researchers, Toby facilitates events for government agencies, NGOs and corporations. For example, he is “Innovator-in-Residence” for the United Nations Population Fund, working on projects to reduce gender based violence and unwanted pregnancy.
Toby, who splits his time between Ireland and the U.K., was previously head of innovation for the UK government and a director of the UK Design Council. He was founding director of the Irish Centre for Design Innovation and is currently board member of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. He has quite a few academic degrees, none of which qualify him to do what he does now.
Toby’s KI teammates appreciate his unflappable calm, the way he compliments others and how quick he is to point out the contributions of others. Any idea he hears is always met with positive enthusiasm. He is a storyteller at heart, which makes watching him interact with clients is a joy. Get him to tell you the one about the time he fixed an old car using a pair of tights. But don’t ask where the tights came from. He won’t say.
Trish is a KI facilitator who simultaneously exudes confidence and warmth. She has a built-in radar that senses when a participant feels lost or like an outsider. When that signal is detected Trish is able to gently bring that person back into the discussion. And whether it’s a group of New York accountants or Marine Corps generals, Trish is always ready to lead the way.
Trish holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Speech & Pathology. In her post graduate studies Trish has studied collaborative practice between health and education and applied research in health and social care settings. Her work as a Speech and Language Therapist, storytelling coach and researcher have all contributed to the toolkit she uses to support those working to innovate and bring new ideas to life.
Working with Trish, clients appreciate the crisp, clear instructions she gives for even the most complex of tasks. Coworkers are reassured by her presence, knowing she can easily rescue them from a tight spot during a workshop should they find themselves in one. And, if that happens a few too many times in one day, they are also glad Trish has a built-in needs-a-beer beacon.
Yota is responsible for KI’s accounting, as well as for bringing two of its facilitators into the world. (Guess which ones!) She brings warmth to any room she enters and a sense of urgency to any procurement department that crosses her path. Yota has been in finance since she was a teenager in Greece helping run her family’s newspaper kiosk. She earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Accounting from the City University of New York’s Baruch College and a Master’s of Science in Construction Administration from Columbia University — while simultaneously handling the finances for the family construction business.
Yota also spent 15 years at Columbia University as a financial analyst. She recently relocated to Seminole, FL, where she enjoys coworking with Stavros and other Florida-based KI’ers. As a child, Yota loved balancing on veranda railings while dreaming of being an astronaut. Today, her sons facilitate the science going on at NASA — while she makes sure Uncle Sam pays the bill on time.
Programming computers is difficult, programming games is a whole other level of difficult. Zach, our IT guy and a KI Producer, spent several years playing video games before deciding he would rather challenge himself by being a game developer. Later, he earned degrees in entrepreneurship and marketing from the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. He has a knack for coding, automation and generally bending computers to his will. Clients appreciate Zach’s 24/7 work ethic, polite demeanor and charming accent. His coworkers appreciate his upbeat style, dedication to finding solutions and the way he is always engaged and eager to help. He explains all things tech with the patience of a Zen master and is a keen student of business operations.
At KI’s Harnessing the Data Revolution Ideas Lab, he got last-minute request to record final presentations happening simultaneously in four different conference rooms — he figured it out and it was the best video output of a lab KI has ever had. A former marlin fisherman, Zach now happily spends his time untangling lines of code in the name of scientific innovation.
Joe has been a force in visually transforming KI’s virtual collaboration platform, KIStorm. The elegant visuals and innovative page designs he brought to the platform take the participant on a journey into a truly warm and inviting space conducive to creativity. Clients are soothed by his voice and charm, as well as impressed by his ability to solve problems on the fly. Participants may not get to see behind-the-scenes, where Joe often goes to great lengths to ensure that they are having the best possible experience, paying attention to details of their visual, emotional, and technological journey.
Joe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and media Studies from Tampere University of Applied Sciences in Finland and is currently working towards a Master’s of Arts degree in Global Innovation Design, a joint program of the Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.
Joe has the ability to be whatever the KI team needs in a moment. His adaptability and flexibility is truly a gift. He steps up when needed and steps back when needed – so that working with him is like a graceful pas de deux. Joe manages to be both high touch and high tech, bringing the perfect blend of both to the use technology to connect people with each other. In his spare time, he enjoys the low-tech art of baking his own bread. And, he is the ultimate event dj with clients queueing up for his playlists after workshops are over.
Emma is KI’s resident alchemist; a facilitator and producer who has the uncanny ability to transform the complex into the simple — and with an immediacy that is truly mind-boggling. Her miraculous talent has even been given a name: Emma’s Razor. It is defined as the capacity to make things uncomplicated while exceeding expectations. Clients appreciate her knowledge of networks and community building, which adds value to our event design. They are also grateful for the way Emma can unpack a problem, reveal its root, solve it and implement the solution instantly.
Emma earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from England’s Durham University, with a particular focus on Palynology. Her varied career since then has pushed to explore the edges of a number of fields including beauty, journalism, digital marketing and extreme user research, which led her to leading a 4000+ global extreme user research network, The Sense Network. Alongside her work with KI, Emma also currently serves as Global Community Lead for WIN: Women in Innovation.
Emma makes KI a better place to work. She constantly comes up with creative and efficient hacks that help us overcome difficult challenges. She’s always willing to do whatever needs to be done, as she is in service to the team and the project. Emma brings her brilliant brain and personality to all that she does — including writing her first children’s fantasy novel — which we can’t wait to read!
Puleng radiates a warmth and joy that is palpable — even through the screen during a virtual workshop. Whether online or in person, Puleng injects energy into a group, like an intravenous dose of enthusiasm. She is a nimble doer adept at thinking on her feet. She has a willingness to get things done that is as contagious as it is inspiring. Clients marvel at her commitment to creating a positive, natural and engaging user experience. They appreciate her purposeful play and the way she trusts the capacity of workshop participants, knowing that if you create the right climate and mindset, people can come up with amazing ideas.
At KI, we think of Puleng as our ambassador from Africa. Hers is a truly African perspective that informs our work there and around the world. She’s recognized as a creativity and innovation celebrity in Africa where she has won numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from the National University of Lesotho and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at Henley Business School – Africa.
Puleng’s KI co-workers admire her sense of style. Let’s just say her wardrobe is as enthusiastic and energetic as she is. They also admire the way Puleng cares about real-world issues and is always biased towards addressing them. She has a way of challenging you and your commitment to making the world a better place. And we love her for it.