About Tom



Social entrepreneur committed to championing creativity in business, civics, and community change. Innovator in developing community-based programming, cause-related marketing initiatives and cross-disciplinary civic campaigns.


Shirley Mordine & Company (9/08 to12/08)
Managing Director
Part-time position for this premiere contemporary dance company, as they celebrate their 40th anniversary season in 2009. Responsibilities include board development, marketing, program and audience expansion.

Creative Strategies, Chicago, IL (4/01 to present)
Chief Creative Officer
Principal of consulting service offering strategic marketing, special events production, community affairs and loyalty-building programming initiatives. Recent clients: Columbia College, regional government of Saskatchewan, Canada, Second City, Chicago American Marketing Association, Hudson-Highland Center for High Performance, DePaul University, Jazz Impact, Jellyeye Action Drummers, McClurg Court Theater Performance Center, Information Technology Resource Center, Building Solutions Chicago, Synectics, Chicago Theater Club, Ltd.

Collaboraction Theater, Chicago, IL (8/06 to 9/07)
Marketing and Audience Development Consultant
Providing branding, fund raising, and product development services for this innovative theater company. Received ArtsWork grant of $10,000 for this work. Created Human Capital Campaign to raise $50,000 during 2007; leading branding and marketing initiative.

Dramatic Diversity, Chicago, IL (9/05 to 12/06)
Marketing and Product Development Consultant
Provided marketing, publicity and new service development services for minority-owned theater-based diversity consulting firm.

OurHouse.com, Evanston, IL (9/99 to 3/01)
Marketing Director
Seventeenth hire at this e-commerce start-up. Worked on launch and ongoing marketing, merchandising and communications programs. Major involvement in establishing the brand identity, the tone of the site and the customer experience.
• Established the editorial tone of the site and developed a great deal of the original copy.
• Championed improvements to the point-of-sale experience on the site, increasing sales and customer
satisfaction. Results were consistently high consumer ratings as reported by BizRate.
• Proposed a number of innovative on and offline solutions to build traffic, increase time-on-site, increase loyalty, boost sales and increase repeat sales: OurHouse University, OurHouse Radio, The Accessible Home Store, The Wired Home Store, The Earth-Friendly Home Store.
• Created position of Manager of Community Relations. Represented company to community organizations and civic efforts.

Executive KnowledgeWorks, Palatine, IL (9/97 to 9/99)
Marketing & Client Services Director
Responsible for strategic development and implementation of traditional and web-based marketing plan and development of new products for Fortune 500 executive development consulting firm.
• Wrote, produced and maintained firm's first website, which brought in $1 million in new business in less than one year
• Championed and led branding effort for the company's intellectual services offerings -- created "Building
the Smart Company" tag line, logo and collateral, which led to increased lead generation and new usiness
• Designed and delivered innovative executive education programs.

Chicago Park District, Chicago, IL (4/96 to 9/97)
Cultural Planning & Marketing Consultant
Researched, planned and executed cultural development plan that transformed an underused major
regional park, Douglas Park in West Lawndale, into a thriving community cultural center.
• Conducted and led over 100 community meetings, planning sessions and public forums to enlist
community support and develop programming.
• Wrote grants, recruited teachers and artists, developed programs and instituted institutional alliances
that led to over 20 classes, festivals and ongoing programs that served over 10,000 people annually.

Peoples Housing, Chicago, IL (4/93 to 12/95)
Director of Cultural Development
Responsible for innovative program development, fundraising and resource creation, talent and volunteer recruitment, marketing, publicity for community arts program at organization which resulted in it being recognized as one of Chicago's most innovative developer and manager of low-income housing.
• Raised $250,000 and designed and managed extensive series of classes, special events, festivals and performances employing a staff of seven. Grew program from scratch over three years, reaching over 15,000 neighborhood residents annually.
• Pioneered the use of the arts and culture for community development and micro-enterprise creation. Awarded special grant and recognized by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC),

Areas of Expertise

creativity and innovation training, Advocacy, Campaigning and Organising, Public Relations, Public Policy Analysis, Strategy, implementation, Trainer, Executive education, Experience Producer, educating for cultural literacy, Community Activism, Community & Economic Development

An idea worth spreading

Inspiring and training everyone who has presented at TED or who has attended TED or who has watched a TED video to run for local office as a creativity champion. See http://tresser.com/creativeamerica/index.html.

I'm passionate about

creativity, politics, good government, the use of the Internet for social change, education, family, travel

Talk to me about

P2P democracy, protecting the Commons, civic engagement, social venture enterprise that support social change

People don't know I'm good at

Acting and producing shows

Comments & conversations

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Tom Tresser
Posted about 3 years ago
Should artists, creatives and TEDsters run for local office?
Ah - but I'm not talking about propaganda or political art. I'm asking artists, change agents and TEDsters to run for local office and bring their creative skills and values into public life. BE the creative change agent you are in private and professional life IN public office. Think of all the knowledge and wisdom accumulated by TEDsters and what they share in their brief presentations. How are those insights going to get translated into public policy and public practice? One powerful way, I'm suggesting, is for TED to encourage its presenters and attendees/viewers to RUN FOR LOCAL OFFICE. Bring those stories and solutions into being at the local level for specific places.
280ec966b2a0ec636a14c241ed47284e96788356 50x50
Tom Tresser
Posted about 3 years ago
Should artists, creatives and TEDsters run for local office?
Another way to approach the issue of "Who should serve?" might be to ask what sorts of values and skills do we need from our elected officials. Take a look at Studio Thinking at Project Zero at Harvard - where Howard Gardner has been researching creativity and multiple intelligences for decades. http://pzweb.harvard.edu/research/StudioThink.htm and the "Eight Habits of Mind" - http://pzweb.harvard.edu/research/StudioThink/StudioThinkEight.htm. This is along the lines of Design Thinking that some business and design schools are advocating for business success. Remember the old saw attributed to Einstein - "You can't solve the problems of the world with the same mindset that created them." I think we need new thinking, new ways on BEING from our leaders - in business and politics. The current crop have taken us to the edge of financial and environmental melt-down.
280ec966b2a0ec636a14c241ed47284e96788356 50x50
Tom Tresser
Posted about 3 years ago
Should artists, creatives and TEDsters run for local office?
Excellent point! I have organized and facilitated a number of workshops and training sessions for creative professionals who want to lead in public life - including running for local office. We discuss framing messages, creative ways to organize and creative ways to raise funds. Bottom line - artists and creative professionals have many skills and values we desperately need in public life. They need to be convinced of this and then helped to act on those leadership assets. The TED conferences could all include a "call to action" and a mini-session on how to translate your creative accomplishments into a winning resume for public office.