Our Team

Dr. Cyndi Burnett

Dr. Cyndi Burnett is the Director of CreativityandEducation.com.

Dr. Cyndi Burnett is the Director of CreativityandEducation.com. She is a creativity and education specialist who is devoted to developing creative and engaging lessons in education. She spent 20 years as an academic, teaching deliberate creative thinking and creativity problem-solving at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State. Now, she spends her days developing materials and experiences for educators to help them to bring creativity into their classrooms.

Her work includes projects such as: working with educators to bring creative thinking into the classroom, connecting communities of creative thinkers via social media and designing and running a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Everyday Creativity. She is the recipient of the President's Medal for Excellence in Teaching 2018 by SUNY Buffalo State, was Buffalo Business First, Woman of Influence 2018 for her work in creativity, and was featured in the New York Times article titled, "Creativity Becomes an Academic Discipline." She is the co-editor of the Big Questions in Creativity book series and co-author of the books Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum, 20 Lessons for Weaving Creativity into your Curriculum (coming Spring, 2020), and My Sandwich Is a Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Young Children.

Cyndi has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, a Master of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership, and a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, all of which she uses to help ignite creativity in education around the world. In her spare time, she can be found dancing with her two children, propagating plants, and trying to find the world’s best slice of pizza.

Ismet Mamnoon

Ismet (Izzy) Mamnoon is the Director of Beyonder, the programming branch of Creativity and Education.

Ismet (Izzy) Mamnoon is the Director of Beyonder, the programming branch of Creativity and Education. Izzy is a change catalyst. She started her career as a financial consultant and evolved to become a serial entrepreneur and now works as a facilitator translating creativity from theory into practice. She was first drawn to the field of creativity and innovation when she became a parent. She speaks intimately about her journey on the TEDx stage.

Her acumen for applied creativity is evident in her diverse range of projects and clients that include large organizations, entrepreneurs, governments, academics, not-for-profits, the armed forces, educators, parents, and children all over the world. Her clients range in age from 5 to “undisclosed” and she has been known to facilitate just about anyone anywhere including but not limited to complete strangers in coffee shop queues and Marines at the Pentagon. Ismet is the founder of Beyonder which offers training and facilitation for Parents, Educators and Youth with the mission of using creativity as the means to unlock the human potential of the next generation.

Ismet was recently featured in TIME magazine’s special edition on the Science of Creativity for her creative approach to parenting and for the work she does globally to weave creativity into education. 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

Barney Saltzberg

Barney Saltzberg is the...

Barney Saltzberg is a children’s book author, illustrator, and songwriter. He has written over 50 children’s books including Beautiful Oops (over 500,00 copies in print), Crazy Hair Day, Dog and Rabbit, Would You Rather Be a Princess or a Dragon, Animal Kisses, and Peekaboo Kisses (over 1 million books in print), and most recently, One of These Things is Not Like the Others, to name a few! Additionally, he's recorded four albums of songs for children. He has also written music for the PBS series, Arthur.

Barney has traveled to Israel, Vietnam, Spain, and India, to speak about his work. The United States State Department had him visit China and Russia as part of a cultural exchange program, where he spoke about creativity, the beauty of making mistakes, and where ideas come from. His books have won numerous awards, including NAPPA Gold Awards, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Starred Reviews. Most recently, Melinda Gates chose Beautiful Oops as one of the top three books every child should read.

Barney has been writing and illustrating picture books since 1981. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two dogs. They have two adult children who often stop by to see what new books are being written and for dinner. In his spare time, Barney can be found playing one of his eclectic guitars, and babysitting Waffle Monster, his grand-dogger.


Dr. John Cabra

Dr. John Cabra is a leading creativity and education expert in Myanmar and Colombia. He is also a Professor at the Center for Creativity and Change Leadership at SUNY Buffalo State where he focuses on teaching, assessing, and researching the science of creativity. John is also the Director of the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Program in Myanmar.

In recognition for his work, he was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, The State University of New York's Online Teaching Ambassadorship, the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and grants from the National Science Foundation and the State University of New York. John is also a Fulbright Scholar. He served his Fulbright at the Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga (UNAB). There, he helped found UNAB’s Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and facilitated UNAB’s organizational culture change process to become the first creative campus in Latin America. In Myanmar, he is currently supporting the Ministry of Education's National Strategic Plan to improve the Myanmar publicly-supported school grades prior to college. This initiative is integrating an educational model that generates the conditions for a teaching-learning practices that lead to the development of 21st century skills focusing on the creativity skills of students.

Dr. Cabra is also a visiting professor at the Universidad de La Sabana located in Colombia. John earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Manchester, England, and an M.S. in Creativity and Change Leadership from the State University of New York.

Lola Schnapp

Lola Schnapp M.S. is an advocate for creativity in education. She believes that creativity is the missing link for achieving the best education for generations to come. She has worked as a classroom teacher from 2nd grade to 10th grade, working with students and teachers to integrate creativity and technology to develop autonomous and creative thinkers. Currently, she is a Pedagogical Coordinator in a K - 12 school in Chile implementing Project-Based Learning.

Lola has a Bachelor's in Primary Education, a Graduate Certificate in Social and Emotional Learning, and a Masters in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY Buffalo State, where she was awarded the Mary Murdock Award for her creative spirit. Her academic interests include: How to use creativity to improve schools and classrooms, and developing creativity and leadership in new generations.

Her work includes projects such as leading Be Spark, a foundation that aims to develop conscious individuals through creativity and leadership, and workshops with educators and students to help them value their creativity. She was part of the team that implemented the new public education system in Chile, advocating for creativity as a driver of change.

Dr. Susan Keller-Mathers

Dr. Keller-Mathers is the key advisor for Creativity and Education- Go Beyond.

Dr. Keller-Mathers is the key advisor for Creativity and Education- Go Beyond. She is a full-time faculty member and Associate Professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College where she teaches graduate courses in creativity, chairs the curriculum committee, facilitates organizational change and delivers creativity workshops and graduate courses on five continents and over a dozen countries. She published over 30 articles, chapters and books on creativity, creative behavior and the use of deliberate methods to enhance creative teaching and learning. Dr. Keller-Mathers served as the Interim Director of the International Graduate Program for Educators, providing a master’s program and professional development for over 1,000 educators working abroad at American and International Schools. Dr. Keller-Mathers diverse clientele includes school districts, universities, government entities, businesses and organizations looking to embed creativity into their practices. Dr. Keller-Mathers holds a BS in Elementary Education and an M.S. in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY Buffalo State and an Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction from the Argosy University Sarasota.

Our Contributors

Andrea Mango

Andrea Mango has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and a master’s degree in Elementary Education-Birth-6th. She has taught kindergarten through 2nd grade at Dodge Elementary in Williamsville, New York, for the past 15 years. Before teaching, Andrea worked at Erie One BOCES’ Positive Youth Development Center, where she trained teachers on empowering students in the classroom and prepared middle and high school students to become positive leaders among their peers

Giséle Frazão Teixeira

Giséle Frazão Teixeira was born and raised in the Amazon in Brazil and comes from a family of educators. She has been teaching for about 15 years, in Brazil, the U.S. and at international schools in Venezuela and Brazil. She currently teaches 3rd grade and loves it. She’s married and has two awesome sons, Diego and Caio. She loves her family, art, music, and creative, fearless people.

Matthew Zayas

Matthew Zayas is an educator, non-profit leader, creativity and innovation consultant, and graduate of the International Center for Studies in Creativity. He and his team at Diversely NYC help fast-paced, innovative startup companies tackle business and organizational development opportunities. His greatest passion is traveling the world with his daughter, Luna.

Melinda Ferraraccio

Melinda Ferraraccio uses intermodal arts therapy intervention approaches to performance, facilitation, and community outreach and has worked in a range of educational, therapeutic, and artistic settings. For the past 10 years, Melinda has helped to develop and direct a sibling art support program for a not-for-profit organization providing financial and emotional support to families dealing with the life-threatening illness of a child. She holds a master’s degree in Expressive Arts Therapy from the European Graduate School in Switzerland. Find out more about Melinda’s work at Healingwitharts.com.

Jonathan Garra

Jonathan Garra is a parent of four, an aspiring gentleman farmer, and an upper-school history teacher at Elmwood Franklin School in Buffalo, New York. Jon holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education from Canisius College and a Master of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY Buffalo State. When not teaching history, he can likely be found in the field with his kids–going on a bear hunt.

Tamara L. McMillan

Tamara L. McMillan is an author and an award-winning Lecturer. Known for her passion, Tamara’s speaking, training and facilitation skills are supported by her 18 years of corporate and higher education experience. She provides leadership and creative problem-solving learn-shops and seminars. Tamara has a Master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from SUNY Buffalo State. She holds an advance certificate of studies in Creativity and Change Leadership from the International Center for Studies in Creativity. Additionally, she’s a doctorial candidate at The University of the Virgin Islands.
Website: empowermee.com

Beth Slazak

Beth Slazak holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Buffalo in History and Dance, a Social Studies Certification in Education from SUNY, Buffalo State, and a Master of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY Buffalo State. She has completed a three-year Certified Humor Professional program, and is in D’Youville’s MBA program.. Her work as the Manager of Education and Events for the Creative Education Foundation allows her to spent time at every level of the education world, from elementary to college, sharing the tools and techniques of creativity.

Jennifer Babcock

Jennifer Babcock is an academic specialist who has been teaching students from pre-K through adulthood. She has been teaching and training across New York State from Buffalo to New York City. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance, a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Education, and a Master of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership. She plans to use her experience to train and coach future teachers to be effective leaders for their students.

Katrin (Kate) McElderry

Katrin (Kate) McElderry teaches language skills at a school designed for students with dyslexia and other cognitive learning differences. She has a Master of Arts in Curriculum Development from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she served as a graduate assistant in the Education Department. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Dyslexia Association. Her workshops have spanned the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, and South America. Collaborating with other educators on the topics of learning differences, intellectual risk-taking, and creativity is one of Kate’s passions. Outside work, she enjoys dancing, biking, and spending time with her family.

Gisele Christian Conn

Gisele Christian Conn holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction and is a Colorado licensed educator; she is also a professional artist. She is chair of the Spanish Language Department at Cherry Hills Christian Middle School, where she also directs the Art Program. Gisele teaches both subjects–art and Spanish–with an emphasis on authentic, hands-on methodologies, including brain-based learning techniques with an emphasis in teaching creativity. She has two websites that she created and designed. The brain-based learning website is an integral part of her master thesis on brain-based learning for the middle-school adolescent student. The Arte website focuses on the creative process of her original art.


Tanya Knudsen

Tanya Knudsen is a world traveler and trilingual educator teaching French, German and ESL in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her family. Tanya is a traditional hot yoga enthusiast and cyclist. She recently founded the zero-waste movement in her community in Redmond, Washington. Tanya is currently undertaking her second master's degree in Creativity and Change Leadership at SUNY Buffalo State and wants to apply creativity to sustainable living, beginning with her commitment to figuring out how to design a zero-waste kitchen.

Charlotte Murphy

Charlotte Murphy is a Canadian educator and artist. For 20 years, she has taught primary, elementary, and middle school students in Asia, New Zealand, and the Middle East, and is currently teaching visual art in Saudi Arabia. Charlotte has a Concurrent Bachelor of Education from Memorial University of Newfoundland and recently completed her National Board Teacher Certification (Visual Arts). She is passionate about creating a culture of thinking in her classes and loves anything creative! Twitter: Edu4creativity Insta/FB: charlottemurphyart

Luciane Bonamigo Valls

Luciane Bonamigo Valls has more than 20 years of work with children, teenagers, families, and educators. She has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and two graduate certificates (Educational Psychology and Educational Management). Luciane is taking a Masters' Program in Creativity and Change Leadership at the State University of New York in Buffalo. In 2020, she received the Mary Murdock Creative Spirit Award from the International Center for Studies in Creativity. Originally from Brazil, Luciane is living in the USA since 2012. Her previous experiences include projects such as creating and teaching an online course for teenagers about invention and innovation, problem-solving, and creativity, delivering workshops about creativity for teenagers and adults and working with teachers and school administrators to bring creative thinking into schools. Luciane is passionate about creativity, education, and children's books!

Dr. William David Yates

Dr. Yates has been a K-12 and college educator for the past 46 years. He is currently an adjunct for Buffalo State and Southeastern University in Florida. He has extensive faculty training experience because he was the Director of the Center for Excellence and Creativity in Teaching for Southeastern. He also spent eight years in the communications field and supervised the student media production program of the Polk County (FL) public schools for 25 years.
Dr. Yates has earned a BA in English from Notre Dame, an M.A. in Mass Communication, an M.S. in Creativity Studies and Change Leadership, and a doctorate in Ed Leadership with a specialization in educational technology.

Jocelyn Tejeda

Jocelyn Tejeda has designed and delivered dozens of trainings, workshops, and initiatives on creative problem solving, diversity and inclusion, leadership development, women's empowerment, and student success. As a coach, trainer, and facilitator, Jocelyn works with entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations to create environments that inspire creativity, maximize human potential, and ignite transformation and innovation in the world. Her energy and commitment to helping others grow and bring their vision has allowed her to work with partners like HBO, St John’s University, the International Center for Studies in Creativity, the Design Innovation Garage (DIG), the Women’s Business Center at Canisius College, and many others.She holds a Masters of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership from the International Center for Studies in Creativity and a Masters of Science in Higher Education from SUNY Buffalo State. She is a lecturer and Advisor/Life Coach at SUNY Buffalo State and a facilitator for Knowinnovation helping interdisciplinary teams accelerate scientific innovation.

David Hoffman

David Hoffman is a passionate secondary English teacher and founder of Raising Innovation, which he launched in 2019 in order to expand upon his dedication to create meaningful collaborations and partnerships between families, communities, businesses, and learning institutions. Throughout his teaching and creativity career, David has presented at national and international conferences, contributed to Jon Michael Fox’s book Why Study Creativity?, facilitated an International Entrepreneurship program, helped students launch businesses in as little as eight months, publish, plan and host fundraising concerts and spoken word events to raise awareness for various causes and social issues.