Who We Are

We come from diverse worlds of education, human resource management, leadership training, parenting education, organizational development, retail management and storytelling.


Mike Mann

Mike is an award-winning storyteller, speaker and parenting columnist. He comes from a background in HR and corporate training where he discovered that stories have the power to motivate, spark the imagination and inspire solutions. Before launching the Center for Imagination, Mike was a trainer with the National Institute on Media and the Family for 12 years, speaking to parents, teachers and business leaders about brain development, parenting and media use. His passion became that of inspiring imagination and creativity.



Jenifer Strauss

Jenifer spent ten years as a Middle School educator, where she discovered what current brain research supports: people think, learn and imagine in narrative. And so, she used storytelling to capture interest, motivate learning and inspire writing. In 1993, she combined her love of teaching and story, and founded Story Be Told Productions, offering keynotes, workshops, and consulting to schools, organizations and business. She is the creator of the “Turning Points!”™ Personal Narrative Model. Jen’s credentials include a BS in Environmental Science, certification in elementary education, and a secondary education degree in Biology, but remains a life-long student of imagination and creativity!


Laura Lately

Laura is a freelance writer, social media consultant, and videographer, recently graduatedwith a degree in emerging media and communications from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her specialty lies with music and the arts, with a focus on video, blogging, and social-media based public relations. She also has really cool hair.




Tina Rohde

Tina has spent her lifetime encouraging creativity, imagination and play. She is an award-winning professional storyteller and speaker as well as a teacher. Tina has a degree in Creative Arts and Human Development and a background in nursing and graphic design. She is dedicated to sharing her talent, information and skills through educational programs, workshops, and teaching children and parents. Tina views the everyday world as a giant classroom where she works to fulfill her personal goal of learning something new every day through experiences, observation and play.



TJ Nelson

Sitting in front of Center for Imagination’s keyboards and computer screens is tj nelson.  Writing his way into and out of trouble for years, tj has managed to collect a fabulous amount of experience, from auditioning for a theater school with a piece of fiction to applying for a university grant without proper use of capital letters or punctuation (both turning out in his favor).  He approaches things whole-heartedly and regardless of how things turn out, tj always manages to walk away a little wiser and with a smirk.



Colleen Shaskin

Colleen is dedicated to helping people of all ages realize their creative potential, as well as inspiring people to frequent and fun-filled use of their imaginations. Her educational background is primarily focused in early childhood and elementary education. Colleen is passionate about promoting literacy, which includes speaking, reading, listening and writing.  She is a professional tandem storyteller who has spent two decades developing a successful business, WonderWeavers-Storytellers.  Colleen loves telling stories and she offers workshops that promote skills in storytelling, positive parenting and building self-esteem through creativity and play.  She brings her intuitive wisdom and a passion for play to the Center for Imagination.


bioEmily Johnson

Emily Johnson is a freelance writer with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Focusing on topics such as real estate, home and garden and nutritional health, she writes for newspapers such as The Connecticut Post, The Greenwich Time and The Tampa Tribune. Though Journalism wasn’t what she initially thought she’d be doing with her career, she couldn’t be happier with the freedom it gives her and the opportunity to do what she loves for a living: write.