"Everyone is creative with leadership potential."


Helloooooo, I'm Karen!

And I'm not kidding when I say that everyone is creative and has leadership potential! Not only do I wholeheartedly believe it but it's the driving mission of Creativity Effect!

Can I tell you a story?

Years ago, surrounded by thousands of people I sat in the United Center, enthralled as National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones spoke.

In an instant, people all around the stadium jumped to their feet. It was a thundering roar of movement. People looked around as if he had given them a gift.

After a few seconds, he said. "Now, how many of you actually live your creative passion? Remain standing." A heartbreaking hush fell over the crowd as people everywhere dropped to their seats.

As I watched thousands of people sit down, it was a complete ah-ha moment. Immediately it was crystal clear that every one of us innately knows we are creative beings and desperately want to live in connection with our creative capacity.

This flashpoint moment in my life launched me on a journey to deeply examine and study the science and art of creativity and innovation. I knew spreading the message that everyone is creative with leadership potential would be the basis of my Ph.D. research and my professional work moving forward. Since that unforgettable moment in Chicago, I've guided the creation of innovation labs in health, care, professional sports, higher education, and other industries; taught thousands of people how to approach human-centered design through design thinking workshops and training; and helped countless people step into their innate creativity and allow their leadership skills to flourish!

Through it all, I have witnessed incredible human beings use their innate creativity and leadership skills to impactfully change the world.

And I fundamentally believe I can help you do the same. It doesn't matter if you're a CEO, a teacher in a one-room school, or a small business owner. The principles of creativity and innovation apply to and work for us all!

Meet the Team

Karen Tilstra, PhD

Founder and Innovation Architect

Richard Paul, MI

Facilitator and Experience Designer

Patrick O'Connor, SD

Graphic and Service Designer

Janelle The, MA