Building a Dream

Back in the early 90’s, Art Buddies founder Sue Crolick was an award-winning designer with a love of creativity and a heart for bringing creativity to kids through free arts mentoring. She dreamed of tapping the special talent and energy of creative people, and sharing it with kids in need.

Sue knew how much creative people wanted to give back, ever since she organized an event to help kids at a local shelter in 1993. Hundreds of creative volunteers from the Minnesota chapter of AIGA (the professional association for graphic design) showed up to work with the kids, and their hearts were in it!

“I sensed a big reservoir of talent and goodwill within our creative community, waiting to be tapped,” Sue says. She had a strong feeling that it was time to leave her design career and pursue her dream. Sue didn’t travel far though, Twin Cities premiere Advertising and Public Relations firm, Carmichael Lynch has hosted Art Buddies with its office space and a full array of administrative support. The support of this creative industry partners makes this meaningful work possible.

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"I never knew I was creative before. Now I know I can do anything!"

Maria, age 9

Taking the leap

In 1994, Sue founded the nonprofit Creatives for Causes that later became Art Buddies.

In 1997, Stephanie Vagle, a child educator who loved the arts, joined the team.

Together, Sue and Steph built Art Buddies into a powerful and successful creative mentor program.

Expanding Art Buddies

In 2011, Art Buddies hired Scott Mikesh, a creative business owner, former mentor and member of our Advisory Board, to help expand the Minneapolis-based program. With Scott's help, Art Buddies doubled the number of children we served.

Continuing the vision

In 2013, Sue stepped down, the Board of Directors selected Scott Mikesh as her successor.

In 2015, thanks to the support of many wonderful volunteers, sponsors and community partners, Art Buddies expanded again to its first school in St. Paul.

In 2016, Art Buddies piloted its first licensed satellite program through a partnership with AIGA Dallas/Forth Worth.

In April of 2018, Heidi Rich, an arts educator and community organizer, was elected by the Board of Directors as the new President & Executive Director of Art Buddies. Heidi is focused on creating a joyful, child-centered program. Bringing the Art Buddies’ mission of building dreams and raising self esteem to the schools, community, families, and most of all the children we serve.

Sydnee Bickett-Rodriguez is our full-time Program Director, and she brings her creativity, energy and incredible organizing skills to every program! She began as a mentor, became a Program Assistant, on to Program Manager and is now the Program Director.

Amanda Cunningham is our Program Assistant. She is a recent graduate of Hamline University, she served as our Intern and proved that she is dedicated to our little Buddies! We are so glad to have her on the Art Buddies team!

With your continued support, Art Buddies will continue to empower hundreds of kids each year through the power of creative mentoring!


"Every session my buddy arrives with a big smile and asks how much more time we have together. He loves being here and doesn't want it to end."

Dan Linstroth, mentor/entrepreneur

“When I met my Art Buddy, I was shy. She helped me come out of my shell. She's fun and helpful. Don’t know what I'd do without her.”

Marah, age 9