Laurie Marshall, Founder

For thirty years, I’ve helped young  people, their families and their schools beat the odds in rural, urban and suburban settings – unleashing self-confidence, unending creativity, a love of learning and a collaborative spirit.  With a B.A. from Antioch College in history and education, and an M.A. in art and education from Beacon College, I’m a certified K-12 art and secondary social studies teacher. I’ve taught social studies, history, writing, math, reading, drama and art to children, ages 5 to 18 in public, private and alternative schools. My work has included teaching at the community college and university level, as well as training over 3000 teachers in visual literacy for the Polaroid Foundation. In addition, I’ve used visual art, mural making, drama and storytelling in consensus building, leadership training, conflict prevention and values clarification (all useful in beating the odds) with government organizations (NASA, Department of Interior, Army Corps of Engineers) and social service agencies (Hospitals, Hospices and Foster Homes). You can see more of my art here. I have studied, taught and greatly value the Waldorf curriculum, a Nature-based, arts-integrated and story-based series of experiences centered on the developmental needs of the child, designed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900’s. I am thrilled to now be sharing what I’ve learned with teachers around the world. Unity Through Creativity is now partnered with Create Peace Project, based in San Francisco. I’m also proud to be doing bully prevention training around the U.S. with Community Matters, which is based in Sebastopol, CA.

Now I’m going to introduce the rest of the team:

Margaret Baco, RN

Not only is Margaret one of the most gifted artists I’ve ever met, she’s also an extraordinary Registered Nurse who has brought comfort to thousands of patients and their families.  She’s worked for 30 years in many settings: Pittsburgh, PA’s Allegheny General Hospital in Orthopedic Trauma;The Rehabilitation Institute with Neurology, Head Injury; United Pittsburgh Medical Center in Liver Transplantation and NYC’s Roosevelt Hospital in Intensive Care, HIV and Cardiac care. Having studied Art Therapy at the New York School for Social Research, Margaret brings the power of visualization and relaxation into the arena of critical care.
Her ability to draw the human figure and convey an uncanny range of deep human emotion is coupled with a profound connection to the natural world.  The life and death seriousness of nursing informs her art, as does her knowledge of human anatomy and physiology.  She brings great heart, care, scientific skill and imagination to the UTC team.  We met through our skateboarding sons in Pittsburgh and then discovered that we had both studied at the Art Students League in New York City around the same time.  When she handed me her business card that read “Art as Medicine”, I said, “That’s what I do, too.”  The collaboration of a lifetime was born.

Shari Karn Mastalski, MS3 (Master of Science in Sustainable Systems)

Margaret brought Pittsburgh horticulturist, landscape designer, dancer, and creative movement teacher to Unity Through Creativity.  It turns out, her parents, Gloria and Fred Karn, were in the same Great Books group with my parents for 40 years.  I’d known her parents since I was a child, but had never met Shari. What a delight to find woman with a vision who Dances on Water by telling stories through words and movement.  Shari has collaborated with Margaret to develop SeedSpeak, a community-building arts-centered dialogue.  Her connection with InterPlay fuels her passion to engage everyone in a Movement Movement by setting Dreams in Motion.  Recently, Shari has joined in collaboration with Unity Through Creativity Foundation. She shares the vision of bringing innovative approaches in education and collaborative art to bear on social, economic, and environmental issues.

Lili Lopez, Community Artist

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Lili graduated from Arts and Ethics Academy in Santa Rosa, California where I met her in the art class I was teaching.  She created highly skilled and unique imagery that knocked my socks off.  With street smarts, compassionate sensitivity and bi-lingual cultural wisdom, she has collaborated in the production of over 25 murals.

Maria Feekes










Our extraordinary technical maven from central Russia, Maria came to us via ArtsUSA, where I had posted a description of the Singing Tree Project.  She got in touch with me and set out to make the Aspen Singing Tree with 800 people including those in homeless shelters, in villages from Peru, Mexico and Haiti and Colorado high school students.  We immediately bonded over the common mission of wanting for all the children of the world what we want for our own, and believing that creativity and community are the key ingredients for success.  With an MBA, PMP, and customer marketing experience, Maria brings cutting edge thinking about organizational development, social media and social impact.  And, she has a heart as big as all of Siberia.

Janet DeLong, PHD with her children, Austin and Adam

I taught Janet’s two delightful children at Rappahannock County High School in Virginia during the 1990’s.  She taught me about Native American medicine cards and opened a world of wisdom and mystery  to me.  We spent hours in deep conversation about raising children, the purpose of life, the struggles to be our authentic selves.  Janet went to be a Human Resources Director and Payroll Manager, Patient Account Representative, Team Manager and Assistant to the Controller of two hospitals, Metro of Manassas and Bell Atlantic.  In her 50’s, Janet was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.  Bringing both her business genius and her atypical neurological viewpoint, she is our shaman.

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