Staff

Alan Steckler

Founder & President

Alan founded Creative Connections in 1992. During his 24-year tenure, he created programs that grew from serving 300 students in its first year to over 10,000 students annually. He serves as the International Young Performers’ Tour Program Director. Alan has been a full-time volunteer staff member, donating his services and expertise.

Prior to founding CC, he was an elementary and secondary school teacher in both the U.S. and England. Alan has a B.A. from Principia College in St. Louis, MO, an M.A. in Educational Theater from New York University and has done coursework at the Bank Street College of Education. He teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and, along with his wife Debbie, mentors newly arrived refugees IICONN (International Institute of Connecticut.)

Miguel Barreto

Senior Program Director

Miguel has 20 years of experience managing education, environmental and multicultural programs in the US and Latin America. He has a B.A. in Industrial Design from Pontific University in Colombia, an M.S. in Internet Business Systems from Mercy College in NY and a course in Social and Environmental Conflict Management from the University of Peace (UN) in Costa Rica.

Polly C. Loughran

Director of Communications & development

Polly joined Creative Connections in 2008. She manages all communications, messaging and branding, including all social media. She also manages the organization’s development initiatives, donor relations, grants, and special events. Polly’s broad experience includes project management, design & event planning and volunteer coordination. Polly previously worked for Save the Children and has a B.F.A. from New York University.

Tim Steckler

TheaterConnect, Program Manager

Tim Steckler is a Brooklyn-based Applied Theater Educator and Facilitator. He has worked with students from the USA and around the world to put together interactive performances on social justice issues ranging from refugee resettlement, countering systemic racism, and preserving cultural heritage.

Tim holds a Master’s of Education degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Principia College.

Annette Thompson

Annette Thompson, EMBA

Program Associate

Annette facilitates the participation of our educators in our ArtLink Programs and ensures successful exchanges for their students. She has a proven track record of successful multi-tasking, including in areas of database management, program billing, donor records, and accomplishing program goals.

Annette can also be counted on for many valuable contributions that benefit the organization. She has experience in marketing, merchandising, design and project management.  Annette also serves as the Board President of the Norwalk Mentor Scholarship, Dollars for Scholars organization. And she is a Middle School Confidence Club Mentor for LiveGirl, Inc., an organization that focuses on building the next generation of confident, diverse female leaders. Annette holds a Bachelor’s Degree from F.I.T. and an Executive MBA from UCONN.

Rita Lo

Rita Lo

Taiwan Program Facilitator

Rita assists the facilitation of ArtLink Programs at Creative Connections. She has a background in global development and humanitarian emergencies, with experience in education and youth engagement. She is skilled at coordinating across functions and cultures to drive program success. Rita holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Olivia Jennings

Digital Design, Consultant

Olivia began working with Creative Connections in September 2019. She assists with graphic design, communications, and website enhancements. Olivia is a gifted designer. She has a background in communications and worked previously for AIA Virginia and the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. She has a B.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Sofia Canessa

Communications Associate

Sofia began working with Creative Connections in July 2022 as a Summer Intern. She has recently been promoted and now assists with social media content, our Canvas e-newsletter, copywriting and graphic design, research, and event support. Sofia has a background in Digital Marketing and a growing desire to dedicate her time and energy toward helping provide today's youth with accessible education, cultural awareness, and universal compassion.

Board of Directors

David Pritchard

Board Chair

David is the Co-founder/Principal of Aequitas Advisors, providing consulting services for corporations seeking capital raising, securities exchange or restructuring initiatives. Former journalist and project director at AmeriCares Foundation. Affiliations: Recent Board member at Montessori Middle School, Norwalk.

Monroe Fried

Secretary

Monroe has been a dancer, choreographer and teacher for the past 30 years. She has been a member of local dance and theatre companies and has studied with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. She also served as an Executive Administrator at IBM for ten years.

Dr. Cheryl Iozzo

Board Member

Cheryl has been an art educator for the Greenwich Connecticut Public Schools since 1994. She strives to teach from a transdisciplinary approach where student learning is accelerated through the visual arts within interdisciplinary lessons. In February of 2017, Cheryl was invited to Guatemala to meet ArtLink partner teachers.

She co-led multiple workshops based on her experiences to over 40 educators in the rain forest region of Guatemala. Dr. Iozzo was the 2014 Greenwich Teacher of the Year and a 2015 CT Teacher of the Year Semifinalist. She holds a BFA from UMass Lowell, a MAT from the Rhode Island School of Design, an Ed.M from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D from TC, Columbia University.

David Janes

David Janes

Board Member

David is the Executive Director of Global Citizens Initiative, a global education non-profit that builds ethical leaders. Previously David served as Chief Advancement Officer, Office of the President, at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and President and CEO of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Foundation (OIST Foundation.) He is a highly respected strategic leader with over 25 years of experience in US-Japan relations, philanthropy and international education at major universities and non-profits.

David has received numerous awards; is a frequent presenter, a prolific writer of articles and book chapters, and is a contributor to major publications. He has spearheaded first-of-its-kind initiatives that have served as a catalyst for improving educational opportunities and fostering a greater understanding of cultures.

David speaks Japanese and English and has his Masters in International Affairs from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. He also holds a Master of Philosophy degree from The New School for Social Research and a Masters Degree in Asian Relations from University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Tania Kelley

Board Member

Tania is a retired educator of 34 years in the Bridgeport Public School system. Her professional career included music teacher, principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, and Director of Performing and Visual Arts. She also was the Local Program Director of Turnaround Arts for Bridgeport.

Turnaround Arts, a signature program of the Obama Administration, leverages the arts as a learning tool For students in low-income districts. Post retirement, she is consulting with Turnaround Arts and Crayola.

Brad Kerner

Board Member

Brad has worked in the international development space his whole career. Formerly a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gabon, Africa and now with Save the Children for 17 years, directing a program portfolio in 21 countries.

Brad also owns www.EcoEvolution.co which he uses as a platform to help people do right by the environment. Brad volunteers as a mentor with locally resettled refugees. Brad holds a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University

Sharon Lauer

Sharon Lauer

Board Member

Sharon Lauer just completed her eighteenth year as Head of The Unquowa School, a PreK-8 Independent School in Fairfield CT. Sharon has served on the board of The Connecticut Association of Independent Schools as well as its Commission on Membership and Accreditation. She had also served on the board of the Fairfield Museum and History Center and is currently on the board of Headmistresses of the East.

Sharon has been in independent school teaching and leadership for over three decades. She believes that nurturing students to lead meaningful and ethical adult lives should be the highest goal of all schools.

Robert Townes

Robert Townes

Board Member

With 25 years of Marketing Communications experience, Robert Townes currently serves as the Director of Public Affairs for Norwalk-based Stepping Stones Museum for Children. Adept at utilizing strategic partnerships with key internal and external stakeholder to build strong brand recognition, drive fundraising revenue and produce positive outcomes, Robert is the museum spokesperson and handles public, governmental and community relations for the award-winning children's museum.

A creative problem-solver with a demonstrated record of achievement, management and leadership, Robert was one of 24 children’s museum professionals from around the country chosen in 2016 to serve on the Program Committee for the Association of Children’s Museums. He held this prestigious role for three years, helping to shape professional development experiences for his fellow children’s museum colleagues during the Association’s annual international conferences.

Prior to Stepping Stones, Robert held senior communications roles at the American Heart Association and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. Before moving into non-profit work, he worked in television news at WTNH-TV in New Haven. For years, Robert volunteered as a coach and manager for Milford Little League. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, he lives in Milford with his wife, Shannon, and two children, Marcus and Angela.

Alan Steckler

CC FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

Alan’s background is in elementary and secondary education, with an expertise in educational theatre. Affiliations: Current Board Chair of his local church. Past Board member of CORO, and youth leadership program in NYC.

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