Just us

Julie Burroughs Erdman

Julie Erdman is the founder, moderator and go-to person of Creative Explorations.

Julie has worked as an advocate for those with psychiatric disabilities for the past thirteen years in community mental health. She has a BA degree in Theater and English Literature from Albany University, and has used creative writing as a therapeutic tool since she was a young girl. Julie has recently completed a circuitous and ultimately healing journey in writing a memoir, working title, The Twisted Path, about her experience with psychiatric crisis.

Kimberly Turner

Kimberly Turner is the Creative Director of Creative Explorations.

Kimberly is a lifelong artist whose preferred medium is painting. She has displayed her artwork in a variety of public settings and recently created a gallery project titled, Origami Zoo. Currently, she has a painting hanging in The Green Earth Café. Kimberly continually earns recognition for her exceptional artwork, and states that mental illness has, “Changed me and my art, but not necessarily for the worse.” Using art as therapy, Kimberly knows its healing value and aspires to become an art therapist.

Sue Parrinello

Sue Parrinello is dedicated advocate for people in recovery from psychiatric disabilites and substance abuse disorders. She embodies principles of wellness and encourages those she supports to reach their fullest human potentials. Sue works as the mental health Program Director for the east end agency, ADD. She is also the east end Regional Coordinator and a member of the board of Directors for NYAPRS (New York Association for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services). Mother of two boys, a kick boxer, an avid hiker and holistic health enthusiast, she makes the time to indulge in her passion for photography.

Eva June Roberts-Vazquez

Photo Artist

A Single Lens Reflex camera was her reward for the photography habit Eva had throughout her high daze (er um days). During her years at NYU, she photographed trees amid the asphalt and concrete environment of New York City. It was not until she won a camera at a NYAPRS conference a few years ago that she went high tech and began taking photos in earnest. Channeling her love of nature into photography, Eva began by taking pictures of birds in her backyard. She “enjoys focusing, literally, on texture and patterns on a micro level, such as rocks and flowers,” and shares these moments in time with others.

Eva holds a Master's Degree in Human Resource Development from American International College and a BA in Psychology from New York University, but her most important education came from her late mother, who devoted her life to fighting for human and civil rights, focusing on systems change to create a world more inclusive to people with disabilities. When she is not taking photographs, Eva helps people realize their human potential through her work as a peer advocate. Eva is a trauma survivor who witnessed abuse as a child, and lost her partner through a routine outpatient medical procedure that resulted in his unexpected demise, shortly after witnessing the poor medical treatment her great mother had to endure in the last months of her life. During the same time period, her companion animal, Snowie, was killed by a car and disposed of on her doorstep, heralding the grief that led to her slow climb to healing and ultimate recovery.

John Reidy

John Reidy is an award winning director, writer, and producer of three films: Netherland, Know Thy Neighbor, and Signs of the Cross. A native of Woodside, Queens, John began his career in the early 1990’s by taking acting classes from Marilyn Roberts and studying under the legendary William Hickey. John appeared as an actor on ABC’s All My Children, and Loving; FOX’s America’s Most Wanted; NBC’s Saturday Night Live and Ed, and the syndicated news magazine, A Current Affair. His film credits include Malcolm X, Enrapture, The Love Lesson, King of New York, and Death Magic. Most recently, John has completed a memoir, The 307 Kid; a children’s book, My Dad Drinks; and the short story, My Day at Shea. Additionally, John worked for a utility company and as a private investigator.

John has also been in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction since May 17, 1982. After spending much time homeless, jobless, or incarcerated, he began attending AA and NA meetings in the New York City area. During the past twenty nine years, John has sponsored many men and is a member of the New York State Mentoring Program. He has been certified as a Trade Union Counselor Substance Abuse by the NYC Labor Council AFL-CIO. John honors speaking commitments in detox programs, rehab centers, prisons, and psychiatric facilities.

Lorraine Kaplan

Lorraine Kaplan is a retired teacher with over twenty five years of experience. She holds NY state certifications in elementary education, special education, reading, and music. She is a passionate advocate for those with mental illness and lectures in schools, universities, and community groups on this important topic. Lorraine co-authored the educational program Breaking the Silence: Teaching the Next Generation About Mental Illness, and sits on the board of NAMI and ADD.

Lorraine, along with her husband, Eli, appeared on NBC’s Today show, and she was also featured on Joan London’s Health Corner on the Lifetime network, as well as on WLIW. She has received numerous awards and international recognition for her lesson plans and advocacy work.

Sean Talisman

Sean is a paid internet journalist with a BA degree in sociology from Queens College. Sean is currently working on an autobiographical novel and plans to attend graduate school to earn an MFA in creative writing. His literary voice is vivid, combining heartfelt sensitivity with an acerbic wit. A classically trained musician, Sean composes modern classical music and plays piano.

Jarret Karlson

Jarret has worked previously in the music industry and restaurant business. He is an experimental musician who plays the synthesizer and bongos. Jarret has a soulful and fearless literary voice, with running themes of anguish, destitution, resilience, and faith in his work. In addition to the pieces he is showcasing, he is working on a novel that combines his spirituality and love of science fiction. Jarret intends to return to college to study theology and psychology.

Tiffany Monti

Tiffany grew up on Long Island as one of three children in an Italian-American Roman Catholic family. She holds an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and worked for years as a teacher of toddlers in a daycare center. She loves animals, and volunteers in an animal shelter and works as an advocate against animal cruelty. Currently, she is enrolled in an educational program to become a dog trainer.

Losing her father at a young age and having undergone other traumatic experiences, she has been using writing as a therapeutic tool, “since age of twelve or thirteen.” She has a candid, vulnerable literary voice that resonates with a youthful, vulnerable quality. She states that she benefits greatly from journaling and attending mass.

Peter Martens

Peter is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has a passion for learning that he feeds by reading and periodically taking classes at a Stonybrook University. He reads Einstein’s Theory of Relativity just for fun and is a hobby mathematician. With an independent and unique mind, Peter writes brief, concise, and quotable statements. Recently, he has been experimenting with meter and loosely constructed poetry. Peter works as a maintenance technician and as a direct support professional for people with developmental disabilities.