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Karen Tilstra, PhD, believes everyone is creative with leadership potential— and she thinks the world would be a whole lot happier if everyone embraced this truth. Until that happens, she wants to help anyone who’s interested to learn how to develop their inner wellspring of creativity.
Karen co-founded the award-winning Florida Hospital Innovation Lab (FHIL), which Adventist health System’s Chief Strategy Officer calls one of the organization’s most transformational initiatives. Karen co-created the Orlando Magic’s Innovation Lab, and at Rollins College co-designed one of the nation’s first undergraduate degrees in Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. She also helped San Diego State launch its Design Thinking Idea Lab. Her most recent projects include helping Santa Clara University become a Design Thinking campus and Pioneers International Institute develop a culture of innovation.
Karen has presented both nationally and internationally to Fortune 500 companies, universities and small healthcare companies. She’s helped these organizations develop innovation teams, create innovation labs and spaces, and foster cultures of innovation. She has taught at the university level in both the US and Asia and currently serves as a visiting professor at Rollins College.
Karen holds a PhD in Innovation and Leadership from Andrews University and an EdS in Educational Psychology from Chapman University. She is a licensed Educational Psychologist who ran her own private practice for more than ten years. She also has earned an MA in Counseling Psychology and a BS in Journalism from Pacific Union College. She currently serves as the Executive Fellow for Innovation at the University of Santa Clara and serves on the boards of Rollins College School of Business, European Medical Partners, and the Andrews University Change Maker Lab.
Over the last seven years, Karen and her FHIL team have facilitated more than 510 Design Thinking projects for over thirty-seven international companies and more than twenty-two hospitals. To date, at least 3,747 healthcare professionals, educators, and university students have come through her lab, and more than 1,560 university students have completed Design Thinking training at FHIL. In the process, Karen and her team have helped their trainees earn three innovation awards.
A native Californian, Karen lives in Florida with her artist husband. They enjoy rustling up yearly “Art & Fun Tours” for adventurous people and they rejoice that their three adult sons have launched into the world.