Faculty & Staff
The faculty and staff of The Creative Circus are at the school for the same reasons our students are: the thrill of creating great advertising, design, copywriting, photography and interactive user experiences. Circus instructors are working professionals who make themselves available to teach in order to share their experience and professionalism with the next generation.
Circus students have the advantage of working with teachers who earn their living actually doing what they are teaching. Many staff members, like the instructors, have enjoyed successful careers in advertising, development, design, illustration and photography. Others have strong ties to education and school administration. Together, they bring an integrated team dedicated towards student success.
So without further ado...
Dave Haan is currently the Executive Director of the Creative Circus, one of the leading Portfolio Schools in the country. He has been in that role for six years. Before that he spent three decades in and around the advertising industry. He is a student of advertising history and has accumulated quite a few war stories of his own during long stints with FCB, McCann Erickson and Earle Palmer Brown and postings in Chicago, Toronto, New York, San Francisco and LA. Dave has had the pleasure of working with Coors, Molson, Mazda, General Mills, Nestle, S.C. Johnson, Sunkist, Visa, Dreyer’s, Clorox and Zicam. Dave has a Master’s in Advertising from Michigan State and has taught Advertising Strategy and Campaigns courses at Michigan State, and the University of Illinois. He and his wife Andrea have a son, two daughters, and two ragdoll cats. Dave is a huge sports fan who avidly follows Michigan State teams as well as the Detroit Lions. The former is far more gratifying.
Director of Education
Janie has grown up in the advertising world - working in film production, design and the agency side - both traditional and interactive. Janie understands the creative soul and how to find the balance in each to bring out their best. You could say that is what she enjoys most in her role as mom, or the more formal title, Director of Education. Janie is mom to an amazingly talented son, who is bound to run the world one day! She is also mom to the infamous Trixie Belden, a.k.a Barkie McBarkalot, one feisty, fuzzy Border Collie/Australian Sheppard Mix. Janie loves to travel, spend time with her son, throw a cocktail party, garden, cook and shop - shoes have a special place in her heart and closet. She also holds the high distinction of being awarded the "all Around Camper" award at Camp Pinewood for the summers session back in -hmm- no reason to mention the year.
Director of Admissions
Carolann is the Director of Admissions for The Creative Circus where she loves helping prospective and current students find their best path to embark on their creative careers. She appreciates all forms of Art and greatly enjoys being around creative students here at the school.
She was formerly the Director of Enrollment for the Paul Mitchell School in Atlanta and is thrilled to be at The Circus. She has a background in Fine Arts and was one of the founders of the Arts & Learning Center at The University of Maryland, where she headed up the Textile Design program. After graduating, she worked for many years in the Fashion Industry as a professional runway model in addition to shooting many catalogs, videos, television commercials and magazine ads.
In addition to being the proud Mom of two amazing humans and to Romeo, the world’s most regal dog, she enjoys cooking, gardening, live music and festivals. When she’s not running the Admissions Department, she can be found biking and cross-country skiing thanks to her New England upbringing.
A lover of both Birkenstocks and high heels, she’ll have to say high heels rule, but above all, she’ll guide you through the admissions process at The Creative Circus and help you discover the amazing opportunities that await you!
Program Director, Art Direction
After graduating from The Creative Circus in 2001, Jen worked for over a decade as an Art Director at stints with BBDO, Arnold and The Martin Agency, on brands Cingular Wireless (now AT&T), Volkswagen, Royal Caribbean, McDonalds, Geico, Burt’s Bees and Wal-Mart. In addition to her duties as Art Direction Department Head, she's a freelance art director and designer, and also one half of creative recruiting firm, Knack.
Vices include questionable amounts of iced coffee, excessive Amazon deliveries and late-night internet trolling for dream home real estate listings. She believes one is never too technologically advanced for handwritten thank you notes. Jen is married to an overgrown Boy Scout software engineer from Rhode Island, and you can often find them traveling country backroads in the Airstream they share with their 4-legged wunderpup, Gus.
Program Director, Design & Creative Technology
Program Director, Image
Greg became Image Department Head at The Creative Circus in 1995.
He has produced images professionally for advertising, design and corporate and editorial clients. Greg enjoys excellent, intelligent, and memorable commercial photography.More amazing facts:
-Enjoys being surrounded by creative people
-Works hard to make “it” better
-Takes him his Image grads bowling, and he recently bowled a 201
-As a Valentine’s birthday gift, he’d been described by his friends using words like: generous, talented, sensei, patient, respected, caring, tall, Hawaiian-shirted with crazy hair. Yep. True dat.
-Lives with his wife, Karen, and four rescued cats in the Historic District of Madison, Georgia.
Kelley Conner Lear
Interim Program Director, Copywriting
Kelley Conner Lear is a creative director and chameleon — part art director, part copywriter and one hundred percent defender, cheerleader and chaperone of great work.
After a brief stint in Atlanta as a print and broadcast production manager, she soon decided she’d rather be making work and left to study art direction at the Portfolio Center before freelancing in San Francisco, Chicago and New York.
Her award-winning work spans twenty years in advertising, marketing, brand development and design for globally-recognized agencies like The Martin Agency, McGarry Bowen, 22 Squared and McCann as well as new product development for the quirky lifestyle brand, BlueQ. Over her career Kelley has worked on some of the most recognized brands in the world including Walmart, Tylenol, Discover Card, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kraft Foods and Toblerone. On the flip side, she’s actually been paid to name products for BlueQ like No Shit Sherlock, I Identify As A Badass and Have You Tried Cheese?
In addition to her day job, she’s mentored some of the best and brightest in the industry as an instructor at The Creative Circus, Brand Center and Miami Ad School. Kelley’s work has also been recognized in the One Show, Communication Arts, Archive and Print.
Design Program Chair & Diversity & Inclusion Advisor
Nakita M. Pope is the Design Program Chair and the Diversity & Inclusion Advisor for The Creative Circus. Over the past 20 years, she has worked as a strategist, graphic designer, creative director and brand manager which has given her experiences that inform how she works with her clients. Her passion for brand strategy is also evident through her teaching advertising strategy, branding and design at the Creative Circus for the past 10 years.
Nakita is a graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, VA, where she obtained a B.A. in Graphic Design. She then went on to a graduate design program at The Portfolio Center (now Miami Ad School) in Atlanta, GA. She lives in Atlanta and is involved in several professional and non-profit organizations including AIGA where she is a board member and Education Committee Co-Chair for the Atlanta chapter and a member of the National Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. She is also the Board of Directors Vice President of Smart Girls on Campus and a board member of Good Thinking Atlanta.
Along with her work and passion projects, she now she gets to share her knowledge and experiences with a variety of audiences on the national speaking stage for organizations like BBDO Atlanta, Phoenix Design Week, The One Club, Public Relations Society of America Georgia Tech College of Business. As always, her goal is to wield her crayons for good.
Senior Copywriting Advisor
If you’ve ever been to Disney World and seen one of the characters running around and thought to yourself “I wonder if it’s hot in one of those things?” Paul can tell you first hand.Seriously, after passing out in the SpectroMagic parade one extra humid night, Paul decided it was time to seek a different career path.Admittedly, Paul changed his major seven times while in college. To his parent’s relief, he finally found his calling in Advertising and hasn’t looked back.Paul attended the Creative Circus in 2003. Soon after graduation, he jumped at an opportunity to work at Boone Oakley in Charlotte, NC. From there, he’s worked at 22Squared, JWT Atlanta, various interactive shops, and today is a successful freelance writer throughout the Southeast.Paul has been with the Circus since 2009 and unlike his Disney days, has every intention of sticking this job out.In addition, to helping students, Paul is a huge fan of his wife, his son, his dog, his turtle, his two fish, and his Big Green Egg.
Senior Advisor - Art Direction
Born and raised in Miami, Danny is a reformed vandal former graffiti artist who had no idea what he was gonna do with his life "when he grew up." He was told being a long haul trucker was the best he would do.
However, after attending The Creative Circus in the early 2000s, he went on to have quite a serendipitous life and career, working on some of the world's biggest brands at the greatest agencies of our time.
Agencies like BBDO, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Arnold, 72andsunny, Saatchi+Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Wieden + Kennedy, and many more.
He returned to the Circus to help give back to the place that gave him that career, and help launch the next generation of creatives.
When he's not teaching or working for his freelance clients, Danny is still a long haul trucker. Only instead of hauling goods across the country, it's actually road trips with his wife Ashley and their kids.
Senior Advisor - Content Creation
Kelly Lewis is the Senior Advisor for the Content Creation program at The Creative Circus. An
Image Department alumni herself, Kelly came to the Circus to learn how to photograph products
and avoid social interaction in a dark studio. But alas, Kelly fell in love with creative portraiture
during her fourth quarter, and a new path was set out before her. Now she just holds her
camera in front of her face to avoid direct eye contact.
Since graduating from The Creative Circus, Kelly has built her business as an artist, freelance
photographer, and costume designer. Passing down the knowledge she’s been blessed with
throughout her career, Kelly hopes to help her students avoid making the same mistakes she’s
made. She spends hours connecting with her students to help them thrive in the business, and
meet their creative potential.
When Kelly is not hard at work creating or teaching, she spends her time with her husband and
daughter. After adopting her daughter at the age of seven, they bonded over creative
portraiture. Their mother/daughter photography project, Malice of Alice, has been featured
worldwide and showcased by Atlanta Celebrates Photography, in a gallery hosted by The
Behind the pleated skirts and band t-shirts, Kelly is a shy person who was not at all put out by
the social distancing brought on by the 2020 pandemic. She enjoys long walks on her Animal
Crossing beach, Moribund, and is in a toxic relationship with her cat.
Born and raised in Cochran, GA Brooks is the village hick. The local redneck who knows how the computers work. He moved to the big city of Hotlanta to study Video Game Programming and Development at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Having written and developed several small games he realized that IT was a better fit, joined on at the Circus as an animal wrangler.
Raised in the middle of nowhere he loves hunting, fishing, and really anything outdoors related. But having the skin tone of an 11th century vampire he also loves staying indoors where it cool so he still critiques video games, is a self-described cinephile, worships death metal, and loves Warhammer 40k. So he's the redneck that loves Sci-fi and technology. A jack of all trades, Brooks does a little bit of it all and that's the way he likes it.
James Curry Jr.
Director of Campus Safety and Security
James Curry is currently the Director of Campus Safety and Security. He has been with the circus for 4 years now. He's a Marine Corps Veteran with 8 years of military experience, 16 years collectively of law enforcement experience, and a BA in Criminology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. James comes to us from New York City and after almost 10 years in Atlanta still bleeds Brooklyn. He's an avid bowler with few amateur tournaments under his belt, a terrible golfer but its said he looks really good being bad. James and his team strives to keep our campus safe and the word on the street is he loves every minute of it.
Financial Services Sr. Officer
Myla originally hails from Seattle, Washington. She fled the rain for Atlanta over 17 years ago. She found her career in Student Financial Services shortly after completing graduate school when she accepted a temporary position project managing in the Student Finance Department of a University. This experiment blossomed into a career of business process improvement in Higher Education Management. Her breadth of experience includes: Operations, student accounts, financial aid, Federal Work Study administration, accounting, human resources, payroll and School Certifying Official (SCO) for Veterans education benefits.
She is known for being driven and results oriented. Students, staff and faculty appreciate her warm smile, infectious laugh and "Can-do" approach.
Myla enjoys traveling both domestically and internationally while trying to increase the amount of stains on her passport. Her motto is "Have passport; will travel." She's a sucker for the ocean, a sandy beach with a breeze, seafood and a champagne brunch. If you stop by her office you can always find a sweet treat to brighten your day.
Financial Services Officer
The fourth of five children, Candice was born, spoiled, and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Immediately following her high school graduation, Candice moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University in pursuit of a career in medicine. That was a short-lived major once she realized how unhealthy her relationship with chemistry truly was. While transitioning her studies to psychology, Candice began working as a financial aid officer. She found that aside from assisting students with financial aid eligibility, she was helping them on a personal level as well. With 12 years of financial aid experience, she still enjoys helping students in every area possible.
Candice has a profound love for all types of music (especially from the 80's and 90's) and dancing when the elements are just right. Candice is also a fan of poetry and documentaries related to current events. Outside of the Circus, Candice is a mother to a beautiful daughter and spends a great deal of time introducing her to new experiences. As a learning tool for her daughter, the pair travels to a different and unique destination each year for vacation. Candice's passion to help others in a creative environment is what inspired her to be a part of the Circus family and she is looking forward to the future ahead!
Kim was raised in a small NYC suburb in Northern New Jersey. During her time at Quinnipiac University, Kim earned a bachelor’s degree in Advertising with a concentration in Interactive Digital Design. Kim spent 4 years working in New York City before moving further north to Rochester, New York. Kim recently moved to the Atlanta metro area in search of warmer weather with her fiancé and their rescue dog, Evy. In her free time, Kim can be found with her head in a book - most likely historical fiction, exploring new hiking trails, biking one of Atlanta’s many bike paths, or discovering her next favorite restaurant.
As the Marketing Manager, Kim Bianco will drive traffic to the Creative Circus website, open houses, as well as other national events. If you are interested in collaborating with The Circus on any marketing initiatives, please contact Kim.
After 15 years in childcare, and 15 years in retail sales and management, Melaney is delighted that she has finally found her niche at The Creative Circus. Raised in a creative family, surrounded by artists, musicians, and teachers, she feels right at home in her position as Registrar at the school. Her head hurts a little from all the new things she’s learned, but she’s excited by the challenge her position offers. In her free time, Melaney likes to read crime novels, paint, watch way too much television, and hang out with her creative husband, Tom. She also spends lots of time spoiling her twin tuxedo cats, Nicknack and Paddywhack.
Jason is from the island of Jamaica, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He relocated to Atlanta, Ga early in the 2000s to attend Clark Atlanta University and has lived in Atlanta ever since. He enjoys cooking, sports, and music of all genres but mostly 90s hip hop and R & B. Jason has an 11-Year-old son who is sometimes mistaken for his twin LOL.
Jason's best traits are Kindness, Generosity, and Respect.
He chose to work in the educational field because he enjoys adding value in any way that he can to people's lives, especially students.
A couple of Jason's favorite quotes are:
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present" - Bill Keane
"I know it seems hard sometimes but remember one thing, through every dark night there's a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out keep your head up, and handle it" -Tupa Shakur
Front Desk Admissions Coordinator
I'm a Georgia peach, born and raised! I grew up in the lovely city of Chamblee and spent the past few years working at a local restaurant called Southbound. Growing up I had a strong love for Metalcore and spent many nights headbanging and crowd surfing my way through concert venues around Atlanta. Mother to the most adorable Syrian hamster, Penelope, and a crime junkie at heart. If I'm not working, you can find me wandering outdoors or lounging around listening to crime podcasts.