Be That CPSI

 “Why?  What’s Stopping You?  Open More Doors with the Creative Problem Solving Institute this June!”

Hi, Friends.  As many of you know, I am the Executive Director of the Creative Education Foundation, the leading creativity and innovation training nonprofit, and the founders of brainstorming.  But, as they say, I’m not just the spokesperson; I’m also a client.  I was coaching our board about how to talk to people about Creative Problem Solving (CPS) and our signature event, the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), telling them “Say exactly what this work has done for you to make your life and work better.”  As CPS is wont to do, I immediately had to self-reflect and ask myself, “Have I articulated this yet?”  Well, now I have – read on.

With CPS, I have taken my decades-long experience in traditional nonprofit management, and adapted to generate new income, opportunities, and a reimagined vision for the Creative Education Foundation — taking the best of what I knew, but using CPS to evolve.  We have more programs than ever, we have a dynamic staff and volunteer team, and we have some exciting partnerships now and on the horizon.  

I am more financially successful, and I have actualized professional and personal dreams because of the success of my work and because CPS often has me asking “Why? What’s stopping you?”  A few years ago I was chatting with a work contact and she mentioned that she writes stories about first generation students for the Huffington Post.  Tapping my CPS confidence, I said, “I’m first gen, and I have a story.”  I told her about my tumultuous academic journey, she then interviewed me, and “Third Time’s a Charm” was published.

A few weeks later, I got a call from the Southern New Hampshire University President’s Office.  They had read the article and asked me to give the commencement speech to the 2017 Nursing, Military, and Adult Student graduates.  I galvanized my CPS confidence and delivered my commencement address to more than 2,000 students and earned an honorary PhD in Arts and Humane Letters.  This in turn, led to an array of podcast interviews (Breaking Brave with Marilyn Barefoot) and other speaking engagements.

Attending CPSI, you get inspired to do the thing you have always wanted to do.  I restarted my work with playwright Stefan Lanfer, who was adapting my award winning scholarship on Prudence Crandall into “An Education in Prudence.”  The Open Theater Project in Boston accepted the play, and staged it. WBUR in Boston covered the play and interviewed us.  These achievements and opportunities, fueled in part by CPS, have fed other achievements and opportunities.

In 2019, I was honored as one of Trinity College’s 50 for the Next 50, women identified as the leaders who will bring Trinity into the next century.  And just this year, I was honored as one of the nation’s Women We Admire.  

What I have learned from CPS and from the instructors and friends I have come to know at CPSI, is not limited to my professional life.  I have learned deep self-compassion and deeper compassion for others.  This has made me a stronger leader and a better partner in my marriage.  What I learned from CPSI leaders and friends emboldened me to address long-standing challenges in my family.  My brother and I have never been closer, and we finally got my mother confident enough to rebuild our little lake front cottage in Maine — providing her with rental income during retirement, a home base in her hometown, and generational wealth for my nieces and nephews.  

I have amazing women friends — I didn’t really have them growing up, or that lasted through my tumultuous high school and college eras.  The amazing women friends I have now, I have because of CEF.  Lindsay Burr brought some of her powerful professional development training to our Board of Directors at the recommendation of Liz Monroe-Cook (a cherished creativity mentor to me and many others).  I introduced Lindsay Burr to Jessica Andrews-Wilson, a fellow nonprofit Executive Director, and they are now friends.  

During the COVID shut down, we presented a virtual Foundations in CPS, and I offered free registrations to nonprofit colleagues.  Jessica joined us, and has become a regular funding partner, bringing CEF in to work with her community and funding this work through grant awards.  Jessica has also become a top rated Florida Creativity Conference and CPSI presenter — she is also adored by the CEF staff.  Lindsay and Jessica have become the female friends I always dreamed of — they celebrate me, support me, challenge me, and are there for me — and me for them.

I don’t know the personal discoveries, achievements, relationships, or opportunities that will happen for you when you attend CPSI, but I know the people, the content, and the environment at CPSI will positively impact your life by igniting you with powerful, simple tools like “Why? What is stopping you?”  

Join us this 70th anniversary year since CEF was founded, and invest in yourself, in your future, in your happiness.  Click here to register: and use the code STBM20 to get 20% off your full individual or corporate registration rate.  If you have any trouble, email us at