When you think of Oklahoma, Susan Shaw McCalmont ’80 wants you to think of creativity.
For her tireless efforts to foster the creative process, McCalmont received the inaugural Sir Ken Robinson Award for Leadership in Creativity & Innovation. Robinson, an internationally recognized adviser on arts in education, presented McCalmont with the honor in November.
She’s “the driving force behind … the effort to truly make Oklahoma ‘The State of Creativity,’ ” Robinson said of McCalmont, who worked to make Oklahoma North America’s only internationally recognized District of Creativity, through the Flanders, Belgium-based Districts of Creativity Network.
McCalmont is president of Creative Oklahoma, a nonprofit she co-founded to encourage creativity and innovation in education, commerce, and culture. She provided leadership in establishing Oklahoma A+ Schools and the DaVinci Institute, which foster creativity in Oklahoma schools, and the National Creativity Network, a nonprofit linking 15 regions in the U.S. and Canada.
“We have to find ways to encourage minds to think creatively, to work collaboratively, and to generate ideas,” McCalmont said during a 2011 Northeastern State University Leadership and Change seminar. “We have many, many issues that need creative solutions in our world and in our communities.”
Before taking the reins at Creative Oklahoma, McCalmont spent 19 years as executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, which gives millions of dollars annually to fund arts, culture, education, and more.
An art history major at Mary Washington, McCalmont spent the 1980s lobbying for the American Business Conference, running the National Center for Historic Houses, and, for a short time, working as Fredericksburg’s economic development director. She married and moved to Oklahoma in 1989.
McCalmont helped bring the Creativity World Forum, attended by more than 2,600 people, to the state in 2010, and established Oklahoma City’s annual State of Creativity Forum, a national networking and education event that
began in 2011.