Every year my family gives an award to outstanding graduate students at the Center for Applied Imagination.
To date, the award has been given to seventeen people from nine different countries. This year the award went to Liliana Ortiz, Dianne Britain and Jessica Murfin.
I established the award in 1999. Originally named the Firestien Creative Studies Achievement award, it was re-cast in 2008 to honor my dad, Chuck, who died in a tragic car accident in 2004. Together with my mother Ruth and sister Judith, we renamed the scholarship the Firestien Family Creative Achievement Award.
A bit more about this year’s award winners.
Liliana Ortiz is a Colombian industrial engineer with 16 years of experience leading innovative projects. Liliana fell in love with creativity, took a leave of absence from the petroleum company she worked with in Bogota and came to came to Buffalo with her two children to study creativity.
Convinced of its transformational power to improve individuals, organizations and even society, she is committed to igniting creativity in her country.
Lilliana is receiving this award because she will be delivering creativity programs at her company, Ecopetrol S.A.
Dianne Britain has lived in Albuquerque, Houston, Chicago and Buffalo. She completed her undergraduate degree at SUNY Buffalo State through the Individualized Studies Program, earning a degree in “Leadership and Change in Society.”
Dianne has committed substantial expertise and volunteer time to social and economic justice causes in her community. She uses her degree and facilitation skills in creative problem solving to help local organizations, including the Buffalo Infringement Festival. Dianne and her wife Heidi Jones also co-own The Intersection, the tiniest coffee shop in Buffalo, NY.
Dianne is receiving this award because of her exemplary work in applying Creative Problem-Solving to significant social justice issues.
Jessica Murfin holds an M.A. in Positive Organizational Psychology and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University, a B.A. in Psychology from Western Oregon University, and a B.A. in Theatre and Dance from Chapman University. She is currently completing her Master of Science in Creative Studies, with an emphasis in Organizational Creativity at Buffalo State.
Jessica began her career with the Walt Disney Company and American Girl.
Today, as an instructor of Psychology in Western Oregon University’s Behavioral Sciences Division, Jessica teaches general psychology, psychology of creativity, and positive psychology. She also manages the Creativity Research Lab and will direct the upcoming Center for Leadership and Creativity at WOU, set to open this fall.
Jessica Murfin is receiving this award because she is actively applying and already spreading her expertise gained through the Creative Studies graduate program.