You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to try.

I’m an expert at being a kid… I’ve spent almost all my life being a kid. We all go though the same types of situations growing up and it’s our responsibility, being adults, to help shape the lives of others. It’s important to create an environment where families can come together, spend time with each other and share experiences.

About the speaker

Tommy Rueff started Happen, Inc. in 1999 to share the power of creativity as both a way to bring families closer together and as a fundamental tool for young people to use in every aspect of their lives. And the unique journey that led him to found Happen, Inc. serves as a powerful example of the value of creativity put to work in the community.

A cofounder of Barefoot Advertising, Tommy sold his ownership in 1998 and used the proceeds to found Happen, Inc. In its first year of operation Happen programming reached 100 local children and today, after nearly 15 years in operation that number has grow to over 15,000 individual Happen experiences each year.


As its executive director Tommy has grown Happen to include eight different major programs including Happen’s Toy Lab, Happen’s Community Canvas and Happen’s Do Goods Garden. Every year happen offers nearly 1,000 hours of free, hands-on art activities out of its Northside studio and partners with local institutions like the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to offer free programming throughout the community.

For his whole life Tommy has been using the power of creativity to achieve his goals and since starting Happen, Inc. nearly 15 years ago he has been fostering that same creative energy in countless children and families all over Cincinnati.

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