BOARD AND STAFF

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Debra Harounian Peltz, Chair
Linda LeRoy Janklow, Founding Chair
Lisa Plepler, Chair Emeritus
Robert A. Pruzan, Vice Chair
Robert W. Downes, Treasurer
Theodore S. Berger, Secretary
Patricia Morris Carey, Ph.D.
Ada Ciniglio
Emily Ford
Erica Friedman
Jawad Haider
Lynne S. Katzmann
Caroline Kim
Josephine Magliocco
David Monn
Nduka Nwankwo
Iris Lior Posternack
Tibisay Salerno
Douglas Schoen
Amy Sung
Louise Hartwell White
Laurie Cumbo, Ex-Officio

___

Richard H. Levy, Founding Executive Director
1978-1985
Steven Tennen, Executive Director
1986-2020
Rachel Watts, Executive Director
2020-present

STAFF

Shenell Bruce, Programs Coordinator, has a background in visual art, and additionally studied fashion design, marketing, and store design. She holds a BA in Business Administration.

Queena Chen, Teen Programs Manager, graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying graphic design. She originally began her journey as a Teen Programs participant, exhibiting her artwork in multiple Student Art Program exhibitions and in Teens Curate Teens, before serving as an AC intern. When she’s not designing and doodling, she is cloud watching in a park. Favorite colors: black, white, and grey—in that order. 

Maggie Fishman is the Director of Practitioner Research and Digital Documentation at ArtsConnection. What does that actually mean? Maggie works on designing action research for teachers and artists, which includes professional development, and creation of new teaching models and curriculum. She has been doing this for AC’s Bridges program for 8 years, and is currently working on a Bridges resource library and website to share with a national audience.  

Amanda Guest, Teen Programs Manager for Exhibitions, is a visual artist with 14 years’ experience at ArtsConnection, currently is a member of the Teen Programs team, facilitating teen exhibitions, internships, and collaborative artmaking spaces. Guest came to NYC to study sculpture at the New York Studio School. Her career as an artist spans drawing, sculpture, site-specific installations, and collaborations with Dieu Donne Papermill on artist books and limited editions. Guest was born in London, England, is a graduate of Harvard College, and has one daughter.

Tavia Huggins, Deputy Director for Finance, has overseen ArtsConnection’s finance and human resources since 2002.  A number cruncher at heart, Tavia enjoys using those skills to help ArtsConnection make sound financial decisions for the future. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College and two lovely daughters.

Bridget Johnson, Teen Programs Manager, is an educator and filmmaker, specializing in stop motion animation and digital tools to explore the limits of documentary. Her education practice is rooted in collective care and community. She believes that her art and education practices go hand-in-hand.

Keith Kaminski, Deputy Director for Strategic Operations, is a queer, NYC-based multimedia artist and nonprofit professional with over twenty years of experience with arts education in NYC public schools. After three years as a NYC DOE art teacher, Keith has led arts education work at various nonprofit organizations for the past seventeen years and also serves on the board of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable. Keith holds an MPA with a concentration in nonprofit administration from CUNY Baruch College and a BFA in art education from Syracuse University.

Nicholas Leichter, Program Manager, is a former choreographer, dancer, and artistic director. He arranges, plays piano, keyboards, percussion, and sings with The Celestials and serves on the Board of Directors at Language of Dance.

Candace Leslie, Fiscal Associate, is a creative professional with 15+ years experience in back-of-the-house operations, executive support and after school educational programming. Leslie manages onboarding and payroll for teaching artists. Leslie is a self-taught visual artist working in oil and mixed media.

Daniel Levin, Program Manager, was Education Director for Amas Musical Theatre and Director of the Rosetta LeNoire Teen Musical Theatre Academy, and before that taught 3rd grade at Saint Ann’s School.  When not administrating, Daniel writes plays and musicals, most recently turning his show Spandex, about competitive aerobics in the 1980s, into an audio musical podcast.

Erin Loughran, Senior Manager: Professional Development and Evaluation, has a background in visual arts and museum education. She started working at ArtsConnection as a program manager over 15 years ago. She has worked with teachers, artists and multilingual learner students in the DELLTA program and collaborated on the development of the DELLTA website launching in 2022. She currently works on the GIVE program, among others. In her time off, she’s introducing her young daughters to the arts.

Aishwarya Madhav, Program Manager, is a choreographer, performer, and teacher specializing in Indian classical and Bollywood dance styles. She currently lives in Long Island City.

Riham Majeed, Assistant Manager, Development, is a Palestinian-American fundraising professional and emerging curator based in New York City. She holds a B.A. in Art History and Psychology from Fairfield University. Riham completed a curatorial fellowship at arts incubator NXTHVN, where she and two co-curators coordinated the exhibition Countermythologies.  In her free time, Riham enjoys shooting and printing photographs, soaking up the sun in public parks and organizing with an all-woman-of-color-led grassroots political organization.

Fernando Maneca, Associate Director, Marketing & Communications, is an arts advocate, designer, curator, and mentor. For over two decades, he has held leadership positions, consulting, and mentorship roles at numerous esteemed NYC cultural institutions. In his former life as a performing artist, he created all manner of things, including performances for the stage, site-specific work in parks, bars, and empty office buildings, theatrical sets, costumes, soundscapes, music compositions, and video projections. He received an MFA in Dance from NYU/Tisch, a BA in Dance from Rhode Island College, and an AS in Architectural Drafting from Hall Institute of Technology. When he’s not at work, Fernando enjoys all things Marvel, Star Trek, and Star Wars, cooking for his family, and both barebow and compound archery.

Photo Credit: Malcolm-X Betts

Devan Manning, Program Manager, is an actor, director, and theatre educator born and raised in NYC. Devan has been involved with ArtsConnection for a decade. In high school, Devan participated in the Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC) Program where he wrote many reviews for Film, Theatre, and Multi-Arts that can still be viewed on our website. Then in 2019, Devan joined ArtsConnection as an Assistant Teaching Artist. Devan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Dean College and a Masters in Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt. When Devan is not teaching, you can find him reading, gaming, cooking, working out, and creating episodes for his Podcast Devan’s Read Aloud where he reads various books for young readers. Devan is thrilled to be working with ArtsConnection in this new role and is looking forward to his future here.

Kyla McKoll, Director of Professional Development, is a multi-disciplinary arts educator who has worked in the field since 2005. She is passionate about creating liberated learning environments, examining access, inclusion, and equity in educational practices. Kyla holds a B.A. in Theater & Performance Studies from Muhlenberg College, and an M.A. in Educational Theater from New York University.

Edward Miller, Senior Manager: Programs, grew up in Minneapolis where he began his career in Theater at the Children’s Theater Company, Fuller Young People’s Theater and Youth Movement Dance Co. He is a graduate of the Acting Program at S.U.N.Y. Purchase and the improv program at The Upright Citizens’ Brigade, is a founding member of Habitual Theater, and continues to act, direct and design.

Lamont Morales,  Associate Director of Finance and Human Resources, has over 20+ years of experience working in the non-profit arena.  Lamont’s keen sense of problem solving, skills with number crunching, and innate desire to help others is the perfect blend in his role at ArtsConnection, where he oversees employee benefits, onboarding, and payroll. Lamont is a notary public and holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accountancy with a minor in Psychology from The Graduate Center-CUNY Baccalaureate Program.

Joe Nanashe, Educational Technology Manager, studied sculpture at the University of Akron, where he received his BFA. At Rutgers University, he began integrating performance, video, and installation into works that confront the viewer with issues of violence, control, humor, perception, and the body. He received his MFA in 2005 and the Paul Robeson Emerging Artist Award in 2005. Nanashe’s work has been included in multiple editions of the New York, Chicago, Boston, and Lausanne Underground Film Festivals, and has been exhibited internationally, including in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Canada, and Argentina.

Erin Orr, Artist Mentor and Curriculum Specialist, is a puppeteer, storyteller, and teaching artist who focuses on how the interdisciplinary nature of puppet theater offers multiple entry points to literacy in early childhood.  A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she has collaborated on creating and teaching a sequential early childhood puppetry curriculum at PS 130 in Brooklyn for 20 over years.

Alexander Roman, Program Manager, has worked in the youth development field for over 14 years and it has become his life’s work to continue to build connections between arts education and progressive youth development.

Constance Salcius, Grants Manager, met the ArtsConnection team in 2006 to write one grant proposal, and has been on board ever since. Her work includes writing proposals, reports and communications to foundation, corporate and government funders, and to secure earned income contracts from NYC agencies. All efforts share the goal of obtaining support for ArtsConnection’s outstanding programs and the organization as a whole.

Andrew Shillingford, Fiscal/Development Associate, was first introduced to ArtsConnection through CUNY Cultural Corps program. At first, he worked with Amanda Guest as an intern in the student art program with other interns. He later went on to do another CUNY program called Recovery Corps where he came back for the summer as a Finance and Development intern and was later brought on as a part-time employee to continue assisting Finance and Development. He’s currently a college student enrolled at Lehman College in the Bronx with a major in Philosophy and Mathematics with a minor in Japanese.

Briana Thomas, Teen Programs Manager, was born and raised in “The Boogie Down Bronx”. Her experience as an NYC public school student taught her the value of access to arts programming and motivated her to be a bridge to the arts for other students. Before ArtsConnection, she worked with students at the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), The Boys’ Club of New York, and Arts East New York. Briana has a B.A. in Art History and Spanish from Williams College.

Gwendolyn Thomas, Director of In-School Programs, is an educator and arts administrator with a musical background in classical flute performance. She received a BA and an MA in flute performance from Mannes College of Music and Eastman School of Music respectively. Her entry into music education began as a teaching artist through various arts organizations. After receiving an initial certification in music education in 2015, her position as middle school band director at Hunterspoint Community Middle School (HPCMS) served as an opportunity to promote musical literacy and the inclusivity of communities of various socioeconomic backgrounds in concert band. Gwen served as a Program manager at ArtsConnection from 2012-2015. She recently expanded her skill set to include work as a behavior technician implementing therapeutic interventions for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Dionne Thornton, Director of Teen Programs and Community Engagement, is a southern-born, NYC matured, internationally-seasoned Black American who chases freedom, happiness, and her weird curiosities. She believes that art and culture are fundamentally important to the continued development of humanity. She is a former Advisory Board member of the Gordon Parks Foundation and has worked for Carnegie Hall, the International Center of Photography, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Fran Van Horn, Deputy Director for Development, brings decades of experience in arts education and development to her work. Fran previously served as the Executive Director of Studio in a School, where she worked closely with the Board of Directors to build organizational capacity and forge successful long-term relationships with corporations, foundations, and individual supporters. She was a founding member of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.

Luis Velez is the IT/Systems Manager at ArtsConnection. Previously, he was the IT Associate at The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Luis earned his degree in Information Technology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. In his free time, Luis enjoys watching his favorite hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning and attending live concerts.

Rachel Watts, Executive Director, is an Afri-Cari-Merican April fool with a love for dance and visual art.  As a multidisciplinary arts educator she has focused on creating and advocating for meaningful and equitable programming for young people during her more than 20 years in the arts education and youth development fields. She has held several leadership positions, including as Director of Education at Ballet Hispanico and Director of The MYC Youth Center in San Rafael California, where she created a state-of-the-art facility focused on developing teen leadership skills through the arts and technology. Rachel earned a Bachelor’s from Williams College and a Master’s in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, with a concentration in Museum Studies, from New York University.

TEACHING ARTISTS

Aishwarya Madhav
Alda Reuter
Alfred Cervantes
Amanda Adams-Louis
Amparo Chigui Santiago
Andrea Markus
Andrew Gaukel
Andrew Markus
Angel Thompson
Anna Stefanic
Anne Pasquale
Ashely Winkfield
August Hunter
Aynsley Powell
Barthelemy Atsin
Benjamin Perez Hidalgo
Brian McCormick
Caitlin Gaspar
Carlos Martinez
Carrie Ellman-Larsen
Christopher Dieman
Christopher Ignacio
Claudia Acosta
Dance China NY
Danielle Criss
Danilo Randjic-Coleman
David Burnett
Dee Kanevsky
Devan Manning
Diana Crum
Diego Leclery
Dionne Kamara
Donald Eaton
Donna Maria deCreeft
Ed Woodham
Elia Monte-Brown
Eric Austin
Eric Mark Olson
Erin Orr
Foot & Fiddle Dance Company
Freestyle Repertory Theatre
Gregory Kostroff

Isabelle Sigrid Marshall
Jack Mitchell
Jaimie Warren
Jane Cathy Shaw
Janice Lowe
Jeffrey Hopkins
Jendaya Dash
Jennifer Golonka
Jennifer Hann
Jojo Gonzalez
Joy of Music Studio
Julia Barrett-Mitchell
Justin Salud
Karilyn Morris
Katrina Avino-Barracato
Keenan Higgins
Keith Herron
Kenneth Salters
Kerry Warren
Kevin Ray Jr.
Kim Grier
Kimberly Olsen
Laine Barton
Lake Simons
Laura Borgwardt
Laura Simms
Lindsay Hinojosa
Lisa Shapiro
Liza Miller
Lorena Marin
Marco Frey
Marco Granados
Marina Celander
Martita Goshen
Mexico Beyond Mariachi
Michael Durkin
Michelle Osbourne
Miriam Daly
MJ Knefel
Nami Kagami
Nancy Friedman
Nathan Bertone

Nathan Sensel
Nephrii Amenii
Norman Edwards Jr.
Ny Chhourm
Odalis ValDivieso
Olivia Crumm
Omar Perez
Pablo Herrera
Peter Bogdanos
Psacoya Guinn
Rachael Balcanoff
Ravish Momin
Rebecca Strimaitis
¡Retumba!
Rima Fand
Rita Tuitt
Robert Dellureficio
Ron Sopyla
Rosalind Lilly
Samantha Blain
Samantha Hack
Sara Jane Munford
Sarah Dahnke
Sarah Provost
Shawn Williams
Sindy Castro
Stacey Shapiro
Stefania Bulbarella
Susanna Brock
Swing Street Ensembles
T. Scott Lilly
Taikoza
Tanya Everett-Heggie
The Rod Rodgers Dance Company
The West Village Quartet
Thomas Sullivan
Tiffany Barrett
Tolon Studio
Truth Bachman
Victorius Remak
Yvette Martinez