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Meet Happen, Inc. Founder and Director Tommy Rueff

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Tommy Rueff started Happen, Inc. in 1999 to share the power of creativity, both as a way to bring families closer together and as a fundamental tool for young people to use in every aspect of their lives. After earning a Masters of Fine Arts Degree, Tommy cofounded Barefoot Advertising in Cincinnati where as an art director and copywriter he would help develop campaigns for some of the country’s best know brands, all while continuing to produce and show his own artwork. In 1998 Tommy sold his ownership in the agency and used the proceeds to found Happen, Inc. and develop its first outreach program. In its first year of operation Happen programming reached 100 local children and today, after more than 18 years in operation that number has grow to over 18,000 individual Happen experiences each year. 

As its executive director Tommy has grown Happen to include three locations and four Happen gardens and green spaces. Since its inception Happen’s scope has expanded beyond the arts to also focus on community leadership through Happen’s Teen Hall, sustainable ecology at Happen’s Do Goods Garden, and introductory STEM programming at Happen’s Make It. By broadening the scope of programming at Happen, Tommy Rueff hopes to emphasize the problem-solving power of creativity for kids and parents alike.  

Over 19 years Happen has been recognized with numerous awards including Best of the City recognition by Cincinnati Magazine and City Beat, the Cincinnati Post - Corbett Award for “Excellence in Arts Education and Outreach”, and the Cincinnati Museum Center’s “Make A Difference” award. On a national level Happen’s efforts have been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, CNN Financial News and Ready Made Magazine. 

Happen’s longevity and success are in large part thanks to how every event or activity reinforces Happen’s theme that “Community is not just where you live,™ it’s how you live with other people.” 

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