Innovate Now

Saturday March 24, starts at 11:00 until 3:00


The Ferguson Library
One Public Library Plaza
Stamford, CT 06904

Questions? E-mail



Sharbari’s fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Asian Pacific American Journal, Catamaran, Caravan Magazine, Inroads, Critical Muslim, among others and is forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly. She was on the writing team for Season One of the TV Series “Quantico” on ABC. Most recently she wrote the screen adaptation of Mitali Perkin’s Middle Grade novel Rickshaw Girl. Her debut book The Ocean of Mrs. Nagai: Stories was released in November 2013 by Daily Star Books.

Sharbari is on the faculty of the MFA program at Manhattanville College and the Film Television MA Program at Sacred Heart University. She was born in Bangladesh and raised in New York, Connecticut and Ethiopia and lives in Darien, CT.

Talk: Between the Kabah Sharif and a Hard Place

Sharbari, a liberal Muslim living and writing in the United States, will talk about what it’s like to define Islam on her own terms. How does it feel to be caught between the extremists who co-opt your religion and those who condemn it altogether?


Sean Brawley has dedicated the past 25 years to helping clients unlock their potential and elevate their performance in sports and business.

In business, Sean has created leadership development and coaching skills training programs for leaders and provided executive coaching services to senior executives across diverse industries.  His coaching engagements include working with CEOs, senior vice presidents, COOs, international sales leaders, and division presidents in entertainment, technology, healthcare, professional service firms, and finance companies. His corporate clients have included GE, Dave & Buster’s, Union Bank, Creative Artists Agency, House of Blues, and ITT.

In sports, Sean has provided player development advisory services to prestigious teams such as the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and the U.S. Tennis Association.

Talk: The Power of Focus

Gertrude Stein said, “Keep your eye on the ball applies to everything in life.” Sharing real stories from his work with the New York Yankees and Seattle Seahawks’ head football coach Pete Carroll, as well as his corporate clients such as GE and Dave & Buster’s, Sean uses the tennis ball as a metaphor to show us how to practically apply this crucial hidden “inner” skill in our own work and life.


Winner of the 2017 Best Female Narrator Audie Award, Tavia Gilbert is a producer, writer, and acclaimed narrator of nearly 500 full-cast and multi-voice audiobooks for virtually every publisher in the industry.  Audible named her a Genre-Defining Narrator: Master of Memoir, and Library Journal has written of this highly-acclaimed actress that she is “as close as you can get to a full cast narration with a solo voice.” Tavia is the co-founder of Animal Mineral Press, which publishes fiction and non-fiction that intends to manifest social justice, and she is a popular guest lecturer on writing and performance at the college level.

Talk: Innovation/Transformation: Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

The audiobook business is a fascinating part of the publishing world. However, what led an aspiring actress from Idaho to commercial and artistic success in competitive New York City, success as a performer, publisher, and producer — the story behind the story — is even more compelling.


Sam Gordon is pursuing his M.S. in Resilient and Sustainable Communities with Green Mountain College. An Alumnus of the University of Connecticut, Sam has lived and worked all over Connecticut since 2009. He focuses on how entrepreneurship and innovation can advance triple bottom line goals and has specialized experience in direct sales, energy efficiency, hydroponics, and education technology. He lives in downtown Stamford with his wife Emily and would love to hear from you:

Talk: Innovate Stamford: Placemaking That Works

Stamford was named an Innovation Place by CTNext and awarded 2 million dollars to catalyze Stamford’s Innovation District. As the Program Manager of Innovate Stamford, Sam will share the first year’s creative thinking, the opportunity for engagement, and vision for the future.



Juanita T James is President & CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Formerly, she was Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for Pitney Bowes and built a 20-year career with Time Warner and Bertelsmann. James is a Director for Asbury Automotive Group; First County Bank; former Director of the Rouse Company; Director for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; CFLEADS; and the CT Council for Philanthropy. In 2015, she was named a Savoy Magazine “Power 300 – Most Influential Black Corporate Directors”. She is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lesley University, a Trustee Emerita of Princeton University, and a former Trustee of UCONN. She has earned honors including: American Cancer Society “Women Leading the Way to Wellness”, Girl Scouts of CT “Woman of Merit”, Moffly Media “Light a Fire”, NAACP “100 Most Influential Blacks in CT”, and “Stamford Citizen of the Year.” Ms. James holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Mitchell College and Fairfield University, an MS in Business Policy from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University.

Talk: What Now? The New Philanthropic Landscape

As state and local governments take a hard look at their scope of services, nonprofit organizations are being challenged in new ways to help address pressing community needs.  How nonprofits respond to this strategic moment will reverberate for years to come.  Join us for a timely discussion around the changing landscape of charitable giving.  We’ll dive into the important trends that shape nonprofit success, and address how we can streamline strategies for success and continuity for the communities we serve.



Bryan W. Mattimore is cofounder and “Chief Idea Guy” of the Growth Engine Company, a nineteen-year old innovation agency based in Norwalk, Connecticut. In his innovation consulting career, Bryan has facilitated over a thousand brainstorming sessions, moderated more than five hundred creative focus groups, and managed more than two hundred successful innovation projects, leading to in excess of $3 billion in new sales for a wide variety of Fortune 500 clients, including Kraft, Unilever, Ford, AT&T, BNY Mellon, LVMH, Merck, and Pepsi.

A cum laude graduate of Dartmouth, he has written three books on ideation and innovation process including Idea Stormers, How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs (Wiley Jossey-Bass) and 21 Days to a Big Idea, (Diversion Books).

In addition to being a marketing and innovation instructor at Caltech, Bryan is also the inventor of the creativity training game, Bright Ideas.

Talk: Creative Techniques to Solve Impossible Challenges

In the process of “innovating the new,” change agents often face seemingly impossible challenges. What can they do? By using several easy-to-learn, creative thinking techniques, they can transform the seemingly impossible into the possible, and in the process, generate a wide variety of potentially-breakthrough solutions.


Sebastian is a digital and tech strategist with 13 years of experience in Marketing/Digital. Through his computer science background, self-taught programming skills and strong passion for tech, Sebastian has had the opportunity to deliver digital activations for some of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. Currently he oversees Digital & Content Production for Octagon, which includes business units from digital, design and video. Outside of his love for tech, Sebastian is passionate about helping college students create positive experiences while at school. He was given the opportunity by Red Wheel Weiser Conari to write a follow-up book to Lynn Grabhorn’s NY Times best seller “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting” called “Excuse Me, College is Now.”

Talk: How Innovation Will Drive More Piggyback Rides


                How will innovation give you more time with the people you love?  Over the course of the past two years, Sebastian has been using innovation to be a greater dad.  Imagine if your life was automated and the chores and tasks you were responsible for went away — time with your family would increase. In this talk, Sebastian shares his practical tools to using innovation to drive more piggyback rides for his children.


Patrick Pagano uses the multi-disciplinary technological fields of computer science, video, audio, photography and the integration of these primary devices with a digital praxis. Mr. Pagano’s research in the area of digital fine arts has led to the development of a suite of open source tools specifically geared towards hybrid media performance, theatrical projection and electro-acoustic soundscapes. Having produced and appeared on over 50 audio recordings, Mr. Pagano is an accomplished composer & multi-instrumentalist. He has also led workshops on Tibetan & Mongolian overtone singing.  In 2010 Pagano performed “Raga Shree” with Ravi and Anoushka Shankar at the University Center for Performing Arts in Gainesville, Florida. In 2017, Pagano brought his research in VR, WEB APIs and Linux-based arts to the University of Connecticut, Stamford Campus.

Talk: Linux Multimedia Comes of Age


ASCAP winning and MTV VMA nominated composer Tom Salta is one of the most versatile and prolific music artists/producers working in film, television, advertising and video games. Renowned for crafting emotionally engaging soundtracks for multimedia, Salta has received widespread industry acclaim for his world-class produced scores featured in film, television and video games such as the Halo series the world’s #1 dance game series, Just Dance.  In addition to these scoring assignments, Salta has created music for numerous national commercials and advertising campaigns for companies like Coca-Cola and the U.S. Marines, as well as music for Hollywood film trailers. Prior to his composing career, Salta toured with and worked on releases by a diverse array of popular artists such as Peter Gabriel, Everything But The Girl, Deep Forest, Junior Vasquez, Mary J. Blige and Sinead O’Connor.

Talk:  Innovation: my golden ticket for breaking into and staying in the game

Tom (a.k.a. Atlas Plug) will discuss his path through the ever-changing trends of a tumultuous music industry, starting in 1990 and how technological innovations in 2001 led him to reinvent his entire career and become one of the leading music creators and innovators in the interactive entertainment industry.