Our People

Providing dynamic, purposeful learning experiences for students across the globe is no easy effort. We’re led by a talented team of leaders and educators, all focused on a shared goal – inspiring and equipping young people with the necessary skills to build a positive future so they are ready to adapt to our changing world.
April Michele Bio

April Michele
Executive Director
Debbie Pruneau Bio

Debbie Pruneau
Administrative Director
Kyla Mocharnuk Bio

Kyla Mocharnuk
Competition Director
Damien Milner Bio

Damien Milner
IT Administrator
Cait Hutsell Bio

Cait Hutsell
Outreach Coordinator
Allison Williams Bio

Allison Williams
Outreach Coordinator
Sharon Dwyer Bio

Sharon Dwyer
Technology Assistant
Frances Mendez Bio

Frances Mendez
Administrative Support

April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in gifted education. She earned the National Board certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board assessor for the certification of others. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for the state of Florida’s certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education. Beyond her U.S. education credentials, she has been trained for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem-solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.

Debbie Pruneau

Debbie Pruneau Bio

Administrative Director

Debbie Pruneau joined Future Problem Solving in 2009 and leads all administrative efforts. She studied Business Education at Westfield State College in Massachusetts and has worked as a bookkeeper and office manager in a wide variety of businesses and nonprofit settings.

Kyla Mocharnuk

Kyla Mocharnuk Bio

Competition Director

Kyla Mocharnuk serves as the Competition Director and leads centralized efforts for our Open affiliate, mentored regions, evaluation activities, and topic development. Kyla has participated in just about every role within Future Problem Solving dating back to her elementary school days. She is an alum of Florida Future Problem Solving where she competed in Global Issues and began evaluating while still in high school. 

During her time at Ursinus College earning her bachelor’s in International Relations and French, Kyla evaluated for both the Florida and Pennsylvania Future Problem Solving affiliates and began evaluating Global Issues and Creative Writing at the International Conference. While completing her master’s in Political Science at Arizona State University, she served as the Arizona affiliate evaluation director and a board member for Future Problem Solving. She also has experience as a coach and evaluator trainer, future scene writer, and competition coordinator. 

She is motivated by the excitement and engagement that Future Problem Solving brings to the students learning the creative process, as well as the coaches, parents, and evaluators that support these students.

Damien Milner

Damien Milner Bio

IT Administrator

Damien Milner joined Future Problem Solving in 2017 and leads all IT efforts. Damien’s background includes software design and training, management, web design, ecommerce consulting, and technical writing. Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, Damien spent a decade working for an ecommerce web services company supporting the development and management of web store sites. He earned his bachelor’s in Computer Science from Georgia State University and associate degree in Computer Information Systems from Athens Technical College.

Caitlin "Cait" Hutsell

Cait Hutsell Bio

Outreach Coordinator

An experienced educator, Cait Hutsell brings a wealth of professional and Future Problem Solving  experience to her roles as the Community Projects program coordinator and Alumni Network coordinator. Cait taught middle and high school students as an English Language Arts (ELA) teacher and Media Specialist for over a decade prior to joining Future Problem Solving in 2023. She worked with students in Pre-International Baccalaureate, AP Language and Composition, and students with high support classes. She also taught a pre-service teaching course.

Previously Cait served as a contract curriculum developer for Future Problem Solving writing and editing online courses as well as other curricular resources for coaches and students. Cait is an alum of Florida Future Problem Solving and competed as a student for seven years. She has continued as a volunteer for the affiliate since graduating high school in various roles including evaluator, coach, and affiliate board member. 

Cait is a graduate of the University of North Florida with a bachelor’s of arts in Secondary Education and Teaching and a bachelor’s of education in English Language Arts Teacher Education. She earned her master’s in Educational Leadership and General Administration from the American College of Education.

Allison Williams

Allison Williams Bio

Outreach Coordinator

Allison Williams is a recent graduate of the University of Florida where she earned her bachelor’s in Linguistics with a focus on Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and language documentation. She also brings a wealth of Future Problem Solving experience to her role creating materials and resources that enhance students’ understanding of our proven 6-step problem-solving process. Allison is an alum who competed in Global Issues throughout middle and high school, has coached and evaluated Global Issues since 2016 for various affiliates, and became certified as International Conference evaluator in 2018.

Sharon Dwyer

Sharon Dwyer Bio

Technology Assistant

Sharon Dwyer has been providing network and application support with Future Problem Solving for several years. She retired from Brevard County Public Schools after 17 years of providing technology network support for elementary and middle schools. Prior to that she worked as a dental assistant.

Frances Mendez

Frances Mendez Bio

Administrative Support

Frances Mendez joined our organization in 2022 and provides planning support for the International Conference. She had been involved in her local Future Problem Solving for over a decade with her own children, as a parent, volunteer, and evaluator.

Previously, Frances worked in Brevard County Public Schools supporting English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students and in school media centers. She earned her bachelor’s degrees from Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston, where she worked as a clinical pharmacist in several settings.

Future Problem Solving Students – A Five Year Study

(2016)

A Comparison of Reading and Mathematics Performance Between Students Participating in a Future Problem Solving Program and Nonparticipants

Data from the The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) was collected by Grandview Middle School and provided to Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. for statistical analysis.


Findings reported by Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. Performance data on the MCA was collected from 2010-2014 for students in grade 6 at Grandview Middle School in Mound, MN (Westonka Public School District). Students were identified as either FPS: students participating in a Future Problem Solving program, or Non-FPS: students not participating in the program. Summary statistics using Reading and Mathematics Scaled Scores were developed for each group of students by year and across years. To determine if the mean scores across the years were significantly different, t-tests were used. A Cohen’s d test was then performed to measure the effect of the size of the found differences.

In all cases, students participating in the Future Problem Solving Program performed significantly higher on the MCA in both areas of Mathematics and Reading.

Effects of Group Training in Problem-Solving Style on Future Problem-Solving Performance

(2017)

The Journal of Creative Behavior (JCB) of the Creative Education Foundation

Seventy-five participants from one suburban high school formed 21 teams with 3–4 members each for Future Problem Solving (FPS). Students were selected to participate in either the regular FPS or an enhanced FPS, where multiple group training activities grounded in problem-solving style were incorporated into a 9-week treatment period.

An ANCOVA procedure was used to examine the difference in team responses to a creative problem-solving scenario for members of each group, after accounting for initial differences in creative problem-solving performance, years of experience in FPS, and creative thinking related to fluency, flexibility, and originality. The ANCOVA resulted in a significant difference in problem-solving performance in favor of students in the treatment group (F(1, 57) = 8.21, p = .006, partial eta squared = .126, medium), while there were no significant differences in years of experience or creativity scores. This result led researchers to conclude that students in both groups had equivalent creative ability and that participation in the group activities emphasizing problem-solving style significantly contributed to creative performance.

In the comparison group, a total of 47% had scores that qualified for entry to the state competition. In contrast, 89% of the students in the treatment group had scores that qualified them for the state bowl. None of the teams from the comparison group qualified for the international competition, while two teams from the treatment group were selected, with one earning sixth place.

The results of this study suggest that problem-solving performance by team members can be improved through direct instruction in problem-solving style, particularly when there is a focus on group dynamics.

The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–12 © 2017 by the Creative Education Foundation, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/jocb.176

Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study

(2011)

“How important was Future Problem Solving in the development of your following skill sets?”

In 2011, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia submitted a report titled “Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study.” (Callahan, Alimin, & Uguz, 2012). The study, based on a survey, collected data from over 150 Future Problem Solving alumni to understand the impact of their participation in Future Problem Solving as students or volunteers.

 
Percentage of Alumni Rating Important and Extremely Important in Developing Skill Sets
  • 96% Look at the “Big Picture”
  • 93% Critical Thinking
  • 93% Teamwork and Collaboration
  • 93% Identify and Solve Problems
  • 93% Time Management
  • 90% Researching
  • 90% Evaluation and Decision Making
  • 86% Creativity and Innovation
  • 86% Written Communication
 
The report captured alumni’s positive experiences as students in Future Problem Solving and documented that the alumni continued to utilize the FPS-structured approach to solving problems in their adult lives.

Evaluation of the Future Problem Solving Program

(2011)

Data was obtained from 220 coaches, 633 students, 195 parents, and 34 affiliate directors nationally and internationally

The Center for Creative Learning, USA (Treffinger, Selby, and Crumel) completed an international evaluation of Future Problem Solving including three competitive programs (Global Issues, Community Projects, and Creative Writing). Surveys ascertained 1,082 respondents’ views of: the extent to which Future Problem Solving and its programs meet their stated goals, the strengths of the programs and areas for improvement, and the impact of the program on its participants.

All respondents with current experience participating in each program rated a comprehensive list of 11-12 skills using a 5-point Likert scale. The adult groups identified the impact on participating students’ learning and growth, and the students identified what skills their participation helped them with the most.

 
Top 5 Most Impactful Skills Identified by Program

GLOBAL ISSUES

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (151)

  • Learning about complex issues that will shape the future (4.60)
  • Developing teamwork and collaboration, working together and cooperating with each other (4.39)
  • Fostering critical thinking (the ability to sort and sift information or to focus one’s thinking) (4.29)
  • Developing an active interest in the future (4.29)
  • Developing the skills needed to manage time effectively (4.02)

 

Students (242)

  • Learning about topics that will have important effects on the future. (4.14)
  • Working together and cooperating with others (4.13)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.99)
  • Helping become a better leader (3.90)
  • Deciding on the best solution to a problem (3.87)

 

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (64)

  • Enhancing the skills of preparing and delivering materials and/or presentations that communicate ideas effectively (4.76)
  • Developing teamwork and collaboration (working together, cooperating with each other)(4.56)
  • Developing leadership skills (4.56)
  • Showing evidence that team members are able to apply FPS skills in other situations (4.30)
  • Developing the skills needed to manage time effectively (4.27)

 

Students (107)

  • Working together and cooperating with others (4.33)
  • Feeling that I can make a difference in shaping the future (4.13)
  • Deciding on the best solution to a problem (4.07)
  • Helping me become a better leader (3.97)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.96)

 

CREATIVE WRITING

Adults – Coaches and Affiliate Directors (82)

  • Enhancing and expanding writing skills (4.39)
  • Developing an active interest in the future (4.11)
  • Learning about complex issues that will shape the future (4.10)
  • Thinking and researching futuristically (4.06)
  • Fostering creative thinking (the ability to generate many, varied, and unusual options (3.98)

 

Students (146)

  • Thinking and researching futuristically (4.08)
  • Developing better writing skills (4.05)
  • Learning about topics that will have important effects on the future (3.99)
  • Thinking of many different and unusual ideas (3.92)
  • Finding information in many different places (3.69)

 

Note, 88% of parents were satisfied with the Future Problem Solving program their youngster(s) participated in and a majority of parents with eligible students anticipated a high level of interest in participating again next year (60.9%).

Alumni Top 5 Most Impactful Skills on Their Development

A group of 48 alumni also responded to surveys focused on their past experiences and the impact those experiences had on their development into adulthood. Approximately 8 in 10 reported Future Problem Solving was very helpful or extremely helpful in secondary school (81%), in academic work after high school (78%), and in other life experiences outside school or academic work (81%). Looking back on their experience, the aspects below were rated the five most important and valuable.

  • Learning ways to think of many different and unusual ideas (4.75)
  • Learning how to choose the best solution for a problem (4.42)
  • Learning how to work or collaborate with others (4.41)
  • Developing better writing skills (4.36)
  • Learning a specific process for solving problems (4.35)
 
Results indicated strong overall satisfaction with Future Problem Solving among all stakeholder groups, as well as evidence of positive impact on academic and real-life accomplishments and personal relationships.

 

5-point Likert scale:
Adults: 1 = Little or no impact, 2 = Limited impact, 3 = Moderate impact, 4 = High impact, 5 = Exceptional impact
Students: 1= Hasn’t helped me at all, 2 = Helped me just a little, 3 = Helped me = “Okay”, 4 = Helped me quite a bit, 5= Really a great help to me
Alumni: 1=Not Important, 2=Of Little Importance, 3=Somewhat Important, 4=Very Important, 5=Extremely Important