Make. Believe. Change the world. Notes from Hallmark’s 2018 Creative Leadership Symposium

As members of Hallmark’s creative division, we understand how good we have it. The community, the resources, and the work we do all make this great place to be a writer, designer, photographer, or artist. This year, at the 2018 Creative Leadership Symposium, we got a new kind of marching orders: a charge to use our creative gifts to change the world. With that came inspiration from a diverse group of makers from outside our walls. 

Hallmark's 2018 Creative Leadership Symposium at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Tommy D., Hallmark Writer: “The feeling you get when you see your copy [above] posted three stories high. This year’s #hallmarkcls theme was something I truly believe in. It’s something that’s possible. If we do what we do every day and believe in its potential to connect people in some way, we can make their day a little better. And that’s how big change happens. Little by little, person by person, day by day. I love what I do every day. But the 2018 Creative Leadership Symposium was something very, very special.”

Hallmark's 2018 Creative Leadership Symposium banner: See how far our ideas can go.


2018 Creative Leadership Symposium speakers

Hallmark CLS Grace Byers |

Guest speaker Grace Byers, actress and author
As a multiracial child with deaf parents, Grace grew up being continually confronted by bullying and prejudice. And while these experiences had a profound influence on her, it’s what she’s using them to do that is defining her as someone who believes in the power of good. I Am Enoughher New York Times best-selling children’s book, is a lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another.


Hallmark CLS Tim Riley Warby Parker | thinkmakeshareblog.comGuest speaker Tim Riley,
Senior Director of Experience Design, Warby Parker
Tim’s unique ideas have turned what was once a costly and dreaded task—buying glasses—into something people come back to experience day after day. With every pair they add to their collections, they’re bringing good into the world through Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program.


Hallmark CLS Marn Jensen and Andy Newcom |

Hallmark Writer Marn J. and
Photography Stylist Andy N.
2017 Barbara Marshall Award Winners
Marn and Andy (yes, our macramé devotee) interviewed more than 70 elderly people and gathered their stories and wishes to the world to inspire an art and photograph installation. “Our wish is that more people would see value in having simple conversations with an older person,” they tell us. Follow them on Instagram to see the pieces that resulted from their chats.


Hallmark CLS Ron Clements Disney |

Guest speaker Ron Clements, Director, Disney Moana
Ron grew up creating his own animation shorts and developing his cartooning skills, and studying with some of the original experts at Disney taught him how animation could truly tell a story. But, he says, working with the crew and actors and Polynesian advisors on Moana, “what we learned is that it can change the world.”


Hallmark CLS Ashley Ford |

Guest speaker Ashley Ford, writer, host, and speaker
Ashley uses her words to help others open their minds, take on problems with a new perspective, and face each day with a better sense of understanding. She hosts the podcast 112BK, contributes to a variety of podcasts and publications, and authored the memoir Somebody’s Daughter, which will be published through Flatiron Books under the imprint An Oprah Book.


Hallmark CLS Jessica Hische | thinkmakeshareblog.comGuest speaker Jessica Hische,
lettering artist and author
As one of the design world’s most respected lettering artists, Jessica inspires people to create things that make the world a more beautiful place. “I’m a person who believes that if you compliment a person it does make a difference,” she says. “I’m a ‘ripple out’ person.”



Hallmark CLS Barry Jenkins | thinkmakeshareblog.comGuest speaker Barry Jenkins, screenwriter and author
Barry wanted to make the kind of films he hadn’t seen. And he succeeded: His 2017 Academy Award winning film Moonlight was the first in history to win Best Picture with an all-black cast. The first LGBT film to be so honored. The first film to be nominated for editing from a black woman. And the first film to honor a Muslim with an Oscar for acting.


Hallmark CLS Jeremy Cowart | thinkmakeshareblog.comGuest speaker Jeremy Cowart,
photographer and philanthropist
His global photography movement, Help-Portrait, has given creative minds an outlet for bringing joy, hope and help to those who need it most. With his latest project, The Purpose Hotel, Jeremy hopes to create a global for-profit hotel chain where every item and amenity is created by, and used to improve, the lives of people around the world.


2018 Creative Leadership Symposium Grace Byers book signing |

Grace Byers signs her book I Am Enough.

Grace Byers:Don’t disqualify yourself if your soul—if your spirit—has an idea of creativity. There’s never been a you before. You made history when you were born.”

2018 Creative Leadership Symposium Ashley Ford |

Ashley Ford: “We are inextricably connected to one another. I am part of you and you are part of me, and that’s the way it is. We have to be in this together to move anything forward. Isn’t that better—to know you’re not responsible for the whole thing?”

Hallmark CLS Quixotic |

A performer from Kansas City’s Quixotic at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Hallmark CLS Barry Jenkins |

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins:Every story has been told—but yeah, by the same five people. Let’s open the doors to some others.”

Walt Disney quote: All your dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

Darren Abbott, Hallmark Creative Group Vice President:  “Let’s keep up the momentum from the 2018 Creative Leadership Symposium by remembering to take time on a regular basis to look up and step away, to open our minds and imaginations, and to take in others’ perspectives. Let’s keep listening to people we have things in common with and those we don’t. Let’s keep exploring new ways to reflect people’s hopes, dreams, disappointments and needs for connection. And above all, let’s keep embracing the belief that our ideas can create positive change.”

What do you do to recharge? We’d love to hear who inspires you…what feeds your creativity…and how you’ll use your gifts to change the world. Share your thoughts on Instagram at @think.make.share and on Facebook.





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