Eric is an author, educator and civic entrepreneur. He is the founder of the Guiding Lights Network, dedicated to the practice of mindful and imaginative mentorship. His books include Guiding Lights: How to Mentor and Find Life’s Purpose, the official book of National Mentoring Month; and The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, a New York Times Notable Book. He is also co-author, with Nick Hanauer, of The True Patriot; and, with Scott Noppe-Brandon, of Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility. Eric served as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later as the President’s deputy domestic policy adviser. He speaks regularly at conferences, campuses and corporations. Eric now lives in Seattle, where he teaches at the University of Washington and serves on the Washington State Board of Education.
Scott, former Executive Director of Lincoln Center Institute, spent 17 years proudly leading a team of educators and artists at the world’s foremost performing arts center. A practicing educator and performer prior to taking the helm of the Institute, Scott is known internationally as a speaker, writer, and advocate for education in and through the arts. Over the course of his career he has helped start and revitalize several public schools, contributed a column to Education Update, and authored or edited numerous books and articles on the arts and education. He co-authored, with Eric Liu, the book Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility. He led a campaign to conduct Imagination Conversations—summits of leaders from all walks of life, who care about fostering a culture of imagination—across the United States.
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Paula, a long-time Seattle resident, has practiced law for 26 years—as an Army officer, a federal prosecutor, a law firm partner, and an in-house corporate lawyer. Since 2002, Boggs has led the global law department of Starbucks Coffee Company where she sits on the executive management team and serves as secretary of the Company’s board and foundation. For the past 12 years she also has served on the board of Johns Hopkins University in a variety of leadership roles, currently sits on the national board of the American Red Cross and is a leader in the American Bar Association. Before law, though, came music which Boggs first discovered in earnest at age ten when she picked up her first guitar and started writing music. Over the past five years Boggs has rediscovered her gift and passion, culminating in the June 2010 launch of her debut 12-track CD of mostly original music, A Buddha State of Mind.
Award-winning magician and actor Eric Walton has lent his talents to dozens of projects in a wide range of media around the world and has garnered the accolades of the international press along the way.
His one-man show Esoterica enjoyed a seven-month run at the DR2 Theatre in New York City in 2006, was a sell-out at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has since been produced at the Leicester Square Theatre in London, at the Brighton Fringe Festival in Brighton, England and at the Spiegeltent at the Bard Music Festival.
Eric has been the subject of numerous feature articles in the press, including the Times of London, Zink Magazine, The New York Daily News and The List, and made numerous appearances on television and radio. He was recently consulted about the connection between imagination and magic for the book Imagination First: Unlocking The Power of Possibility.
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I grew up in New Jersey, but weekend excursions with my parents into Manhattan introduced me to the wider world of the arts. I took to theater and film in particular—I liked slipping away from the noisy, fluorescent pressure of daily life into dark auditoriums to watch strange stories unfold, observe characters’ behavior, and reflect on my own. I still do. When I was 16, I wrote a one-act play called Man in Space and sat trembling for twenty minutes as actors performed it before an audience for the first time. I went on to earn a BFA in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in May 2009. My plays have been staged at NYU, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. In the fall, I’ll enter NYU’s MA program in English and American literature.
Working on the Imagination Conversation, an initiative to explore the role of imagination in American society, I see two aspects of my personal experience that inform my perspective as a contributor to this blog on imagination.
First, I’m a recent product of the American public education system—the standardized tests, the compartmentalized school days. As a kid, I had to search for imaginative spaces outside the classroom, in theaters, museums, books, in my backyard with a camcorder and some friends (guerrilla filmmaking), in my room with a blank sheet of paper. I was fortunate to have access to alternative resources, but plenty of students don’t, so I recognize the pressing need for imaginative teaching and learning. Second, I’m an aspiring playwright. Disparate as they are, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, and Sam Shepard would likely agree that a robust imagination is indispensable if we—not only dramatists, but all of us—are to perceive age-old human situations with fresh eyes. I am thrilled to write in imagination’s service.
Imagination has been central to who I am for as long as I can remember. From the time I was very young I reveled in my ballet and tap classes, took up various craft projects, and played a mean game of “Cops-n-Robbers.” I began to work in theater at fourteen, and eventually became a theater director. I worked with upstart theater companies and new playwrights in both Chicago and Austin, TX. I hold a master’s degree and a PhD in Theatre History/Criticism/Text/Theory from the University of Texas at Austin. To be clear: the arts route is not the only way to traverse the imaginary, but on that particular road, it becomes essential to how you define and view the world.
Nearly a decade of working with creative, passionate, and visionary colleagues at Lincoln Center Institute has strengthened this proclivity, and I find myself immersed in the realm of imaginative teaching and learning on a daily basis. As Assistant Director of Resources and Technology Development for LCI, I sometimes think I have the best job in the world. I oversee the day-to-day operation of LCI’s Resource Center, and work on planning and facilitation of professional development around inquiry and the use of contextual materials for librarians, educators, and teaching artists. That straightforward, one sentence summary masks a complex web of varied tasks and conversations, both practical and conceptual. The variety and complexity and messiness of it all is part of its charm, and I hope to bring some of the passion I invest in it to my Imagination Now blog posts—topped with a little bit of insight.
Christopher St. Clair
My earliest childhood memories are of mysterious objects called “books” lining the walls of the family’s apartment, and of my sibling and I being sung to sleep by our operatically-inclined mother. Both the mysterious objects and the songs took me deep into the realm of imagination, even when the former was just pictures, and the latter just sounds. Sometimes I wonder whether, just possibly, the love of words and music can be transmitted genetically.
I sharpened my writing and editing skills in the world of advertising, and if that world was often difficult to inhabit, it also connected me to the sometime client of the agency I worked for, which client proved to be most intriguing. It used language that was all its own. That client was Lincoln Center Institute.
A member of LCI’s staff since 2001, I have learned one thing: “routine” would never be a part of my job description. I have had the pleasure of contributing to such memorable, and wonderfully different, projects as Windows on the Work, LCI’s first Annual Report, and the book Imagination First.
During my tenure, I have already met two young people, at LCI on a fellowship, who share with me my alma mater, the École Normale de Musique in Paris, France. A good omen, I believe, in an often bewildering world.