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Jerron Herman  (EP 68: Pockets of Light)  

Jerron Herman is a dancer and writer who is compelled to create images of freedom. He has premiered works at Danspace Project, Performance Space New York, and The Whitney Museum with tours to the Baltimore Museum of Art, ODC SF, and a digital release for Lincoln Center. His latest, Lax, was commissioned by Stephen Petronio Company and premiered at Battery Dance Festival and activated The Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as Guggenheim. His artistry has led him to a ceramic residency at the famed EKWC in the Netherlands and exhibitions for 1969 Gallery, LOMAA in Ontario, and ICAPhiladelphia (Carolyn Lazard). Jerron is also the choreographer and co-director of Sensorium Ex, a new opera. He’s curated multiple series for venues like the Rubin Foundation and The Joyce. His writings have also been published in the US and abroad including Art Papers and Performance Journal. His play, 3 Bodies, was also published in Theater Magazine in 2022. He is gladly a part of INTERIM, a boutique management centering joy for disabled artists helmed by Candace Feldman that includes Molly Joyce and Christopher Unpezverde Nuñez. Other gracious accolades include a 2023-24 Fellowship at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts, Spring 2022 Georgetown Artist/Scholar-in-Residence, Dance Magazine March 2021 cover story, 2021 Grants to Artists Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and a 2021-2022 Jerome Hill Fellowship in Dance from the Jerome Foundation; the 2021 PETRONIO Award and residency and a 2020 Disability Futures Fellowship by the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Lindz Amer (EP 67: The Power of Queer Joy!)  

Lindz Amer makes queer stuff for kids, parents, educators, and allies.

They created their award-winning LGBTQ+ web series Queer Kid Stuff in 2016 which now has 4M lifetime views and counting! They are the author of the nonfiction parenting book Rainbow Parenting: Your Guide to Raising Queer Kid and Their Allies (St. Martin's Press) and their picture book Hooray for She, He, Ze, and They! What Are YOUR Pronouns Today? (Simon & Schuster, February 2024). Currently, they perform at schools and libraries across the country, while writing and consulting for children’s television. They worked with Nick Jr on the Webby award-winning Blues Clues & You “Pride Parade” music video, wrote for The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy, created the first nonbinary character in the Paw Patrol universe on the spin-off Rubble and Crew, and more! You can watch their viral TED Talk on why kids need to learn about gender and sexuality and learn more about their work over at


Carmen Kelly (EP 65 and 66: A Soft Place, For Vocal Girls...)  


Carmen has worked extensively in professional theatre, film and television for over thirty years. She earned her BA in speech and drama from Spelman College, Atlanta Georgia where she was the recipient of the Jerome Award for Creative Achievement. While in Atlanta, Carmen was a founding member of artistic director Walter Dallas’ Proposition Theatre Company. She holds a Masters of Arts in Educational Theatre from Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. Carmen studied at Tisch School of the Arts (NYU) renowned studio The Actors’ and Directors’ Lab in New York City. Some of her cherished theatre roles are lady in orange in “for colored girls…”National Off-Broadway Tour; Chicky in “Fuchsia” Nuyorican Poets’ Production; Susan in “In The Boom Boom Room” The Clurman Theatre. Carmen has directed productions at New York City’s Perry Street Theatre, Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Mabou Mines, and Theatre for the New City. She collaborated with Van Lier Playwright Janis Astor del Valle to co-produce Where the Senoritas Are, an award winning play that received outstanding reviews in The New York Times and accolades in Washington DC as a benefit for the Whitman Walker Clinic, and the Women’s Playwright Collective. Her film and television credits include. The Answer and Malcolm X by celebrated director Spike Lee; Beatstreet, dir. Stan Lathan; Law and Order, Guiding Light; One Life to Live; and As The World Turns. Radio credits include 98.7 Kiss-FM, Wake-up Club “Kiss and Tell” Radio soap opera.

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Yazmany Arboleda (EP 64: Mobilizing Interdependence)  

Yazmany Arboleda (b. 1981) is a Colombian American artist based in New York City. An architect by training, Yazmany activates communities with large scale art projects that seek to build heart-felt connections that lead to meaningful relationships. He believes that art is a verb not a noun. Over the past two decades he has co-created public art projects with communities in India, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Afghanistan, Spain, Colombia and the United States. He has collaborated with Carnegie Hall, the Yale School of Management, and the United Nations. He is a co-founder of limeSHIFT, the Future Historical Society, Remember 2019, and the Artist As Citizen Conference. He is the first artist in residence for New York City’s Civic Engagement Commission as well as the Community Arts Network. In 2022 he was named NYC's inaugural People's Artist. @yazmany


TAG/ATA -  (EP 63: Looking Back to Look Forward)  

We imagine a world where to be human is to be an artist. Where every person has access to culturally relevant arts expression. Where artists are honored and equitably paid. We work towards this vision through: ADVOCATING - We work with partners at the regional, state, national, and international levels to advocate for the work of teaching artists and to forge pathways that will strengthen, develop, and evolve our field both within and outside of the sector; HONORING - We honor the skill, passion, and experience of teaching artists by celebrating and amplifying their impact. SUPPORTING - We provide teaching artists with the tools to grow and thrive; CONNECTING - We bring teaching artists together to connect, collaborate, create, and learn from one another; IMAGINING - We imagine new pathways to create work, new connections to strengthen the field, and new opportunities to create a stronger ecosystem in support of teaching artistry.

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Caitlyn McCain, Nicole Hogsett, Tara Kirton, Lindz Amer, Allison Finder (EP 62: In Conversation with "Start the Conversation")  

This three-part series focuses on engaging adults and children in deep conversations about race, racism, gender, and emergency drill support. In Episode 62, Act 1, Caitlyn and Nicole discuss the urgency of their series, which was born out of the racial uprisings following George Floyd's murder. They emphasize the importance of addressing these topics with kids and challenging white supremacist norms. The big thoughts posed are how to grow as individuals and society by understanding and celebrating what we don't know and how to create meaningful conversations among white-identifying families. In Act 2, the conversation shifts to gender, anti-LGBTQIA legislation, book bannings, and the need for queer representation in children's education content. Finally, Act 3 highlights the "Start the Conversation" video series, particularly its resources on emergency drill support for teachers and children, addressing topics such as active shooter drills and fire drills. These resources include video guides, print resources, and visual stories to help educators, teaching artists, and caregivers navigate emergency scenarios. Visit our PODience Companion for this episode to read more about the featured panelists!

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Caitlyn McCain (EP 61: Finding Paths to Freedom and Dreaming) - 

Caitlyn McCain (she/her) is a NYC based actor, educator, voice professional and applied theatre practitioner. Caitlyn has worked with a wide range of K-12 student and educator populations to engage them in social emotional and social justice based education and professional developments through theatre programs and workshops. She is the creator and host of “Start the Conversation”, a series by New York City Children’s Theater and the co-creator and co-host of The Trauma-Informed Toolkit for Educators. Additionally, Caitlyn is a faculty member at The Stella Adler Studio of Acting and a Drama Curriculum Specialist with The Juilliard School’s K-12 Programs and Initiatives. Her work has also been featured in the New York Times for engaging young people through theatre during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Caitlyn holds a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies and is currently pursuing an MA in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York. 

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Melissa Friedman (EP 60: The Pursuit of Synergy) - 

Co-Artistic Director of Epic Theatre Ensemble, Melissa Friedman has performed in numerous Epic Off-Broadway productions, some of which include: Hannah and Martin (with David Strathairn), Einstein’s Gift (with Aasif Mandvi), A Hard Heart (with Kathleen Chalfant) Other Off-Broadway & Regional credits include An Ideal Husband (Tennessee Rep), Last Night of Ballyhoo (Fulton Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing and Degenerate Art (Irondale), and Substance of Fire, Macbeth, and Henry IV directed by Jack O’Brien (Old Globe). MFA in Acting from the University of San Diego. Melissa’s expertise and passion for advancing social justice through the arts has allowed her to develop a unique curriculum that aims for personal and professional development. She has directed numerous productions within Epic’s Shakespeare Remix program and was presented with the 2009 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award at the White House by then-First Lady Michelle Obama.


Aminisha Ferdinand (EP 59: Divine Self Development) - 

Aminisha Ferdinand is an educator, performing artist and child of New Orleans.  For two decades, she taught children and adults how to access their inherent creativity within the confines of public school systems.  As an arts integration specialist with KID smART, Aminisha designed and led arts-integrated, research-based curriculum developed through partnerships with K-8 teachers in core curriculum and self-contained classrooms.  She travels across the country to facilitate learning for educators, students, teaching artists, and administrators through conferences, school workshops, and mixed-reality simulated classroom environments.  She has facilitated learning for organizations such as Harvard Graduate School of Education, Tulane University Center for Public Service, National Guild for Community Arts Education and Arts Council of Baton Rouge.


Alex Santiago-Jirau (EP 58: Processing the Collective Scars) - 

Alexander Santiago-Jirau (he/él) is Director of Education at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW). In this role, he oversees all of NYTW’s education and community engagement initiatives, including the Mind the Gap (MTG) intergenerational theatre program, student matinees, in-school teaching artist residencies, after-school programs, master classes, administrative fellowships, audience engagement and community-based programs. Some of his favorite work at NYTW has included developing educational materials and curating programming for the world premiere of David Bowie’s and Enda Walsh’s Lazarus directed by Ivo van Hove, the world premiere of Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin, a production of Othello directed by Sam Gold featuring Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo, Heidi Shreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me, and Jeremy O. Harris’s Slave Play. Recent work has included facilitation of MTG devising intensive workshops in London, Chile, and North Carolina, and the creation of NYTW’s Youth Artistic Instigators ensemble.

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Miko Lee (EP 57: Arts, Essence...Us) - 

Miko Lee is an activist, storyteller and educator. She believes in the power of story to amplify voices. Miko is lead producer of APEX Express on KPFA Radio focused around AAPI activists and artists. She is Director of Programs for Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality and on the National Advisory Committee of Teaching Artists Guild. Miko’s career has been rooted in the nonprofit world, first as a theatre actor, director and writer and then as an artistic director and as an arts education leader. Miko was executive director of Youth in Arts for over a decade and prior to that was Director of Arts and Public Education at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to Teaching Artists Guild, Miko is an artsEquity BIPOC leader and serves on California’s Special Education + Arts Working Group and the Public Will Committee of CREATE CA. Miko’s extensive background in theatre includes working on shows at Berkeley, Seattle and South Coast Rep, Public Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and many others.

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James C. Horton (EP 56: Arm Yourself with Hope) - 

President of the Harlem School of the Arts. Before Joining HSA Horton served as the Vice President of Education and Engagement, at the Museum of the City of New York where he led public programs, FAO Schwarz Education Center, which serves more than 50,000 students annually and a newly formed branch of engagement called Community Based Initiatives; in which programming is designed to deepen the Museum’s connections to the varied communities of New York, while providing innovative programming that explores New York City’s historic and contemporary issues. Horton previously served as the Director of Social Impact Programs for Carnegie Hall, where he formulated and launched many programs for adults and youth throughout the city. Prior to his tenure at Carnegie Hall, he held senior leadership positions at the National Guild for Community Arts Education and the Harlem Children’s Zone. He has a background in Theater and Communications through Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and participated in not-for-profit management and leadership programs at Columbia University’s Business School and the Shannon Leadership Institute in St. Paul. IG: @ thebrandjames; Twitter: @jameschorton

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Shanna Melton (EP 55: Calling in Your "Why") - 

Poet, painter and art educator, Shanna T. Melton, is the author of Unraveling My Thoughts (2016) and founder of Shanna's Writers Circle, one of the most diverse writing groups in Connecticut. Her recent exhibition of paintings, Her Dragons Fly, braid ancestral lineage, African textiles, and Black history with dazzling color and visual storytelling. Honored as a Connecticut Art Hero by the CT Office of the Arts (2018) and awarded the Arts and Cultural Empowerment Award by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, Shanna is also an arts consultant and teaching artist who integrates social justice and community engagement in the creative workshops, performances, and events that she curates. An Ambassador of Poetry for The Housatonic Museum of Art, Shanna has brought her poetry to the stage from the Nuyorican Poets Café (NYC) to the Apache Poets Café (Atlanta) to Lyrical Voices (Bridgeport), which she founded as an inclusive space to showcase emerging poets. You can also find Shanna's poetry anthologized in The Looking Glass Anthology: Through the Single Gal's Lens, Poetree Publications, 2019. She is currently working on her next poetry collection, which focus on relationships, community, and history. 


Melissa Parke (EP 54: Walk in Truth) - 

Melissa Parke is a Brooklyn-based creative that is making waves in the arts-education world. Parke initially developed her concept for Black Teaching Artist Lab, LLC at the beginning of 2019, while working as a community manager at Brooklyn Creative League—a co-working space in Brooklyn, New York. Surrounded by successful entrepreneurs and immersed in the social changes that were underway in America, Parke was inspired to turn her big ideas into a tangible, new reality.

Website:; Instagram: @blackteachingartistlab

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Margie Johnson Reese (EP 53: Passing the Baton) - 

Margie Johnson Reese is an educator and life-long advocate for children and the arts. She has over 40 years’ experience in the field of arts administration, more than 17 of those heading a local arts agency. Margie received a BA from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and an MFA in Theater from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, grounding her education in the arts. Margie’s career in arts administration and reputation as a leader was established within some of the field’s largest public institutions, including service as Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Dallas and General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs where she held her position under three Mayoral administrations. Her expertise as a grant maker was tapped by the Ford Foundation to advance cultural projects in West Africa. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, her three-year appointment centered on cultural policy development and the conservation of West Africa’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Following her service in West Africa, Margie returned to Dallas and took the position of Vice President for Programs at Big Thought, a renowned arts learning organization based in Dallas, Texas. Her work continues to center on supporting and advocating for Teaching Artists and mid-career arts leaders of color. Most recently, she led the development of the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture, a local arts agency designed to serve four counties in the north Texas region. She also manages MJR Partners, a private consulting firm focused on coaching and advising arts leaders and organizations in all areas of cultural management and policy development. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas and continues as an adjunct professor at Goucher College in their graduate school of arts administration. Over the years, Margie has contributed her time and talent to the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, most notably as a member of the International Music Council in Paris. She is an advisor to the International Council of African Museum and is a Fellow at the Salzburg Global Institute. Margie is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and spends her time between Wichita Falls, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia.

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Michelle Manzanales (EP 52: Shattering the Box) - 

Originally from Houston, Texas, Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer, dedicated dance educator of over 30 years, and co-founder of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance. The Director of New York City’s Ballet Hispánico School of Dance since December of 2016, Michelle previously led the organization’s professional company as Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate for seven seasons. Ms. Manzanales performed with Luna Negra Dance Theater of Chicago, IL, later transitioning to artistic leadership as Rehearsal Director and ultimately serving as Artistic Director prior to moving to New York City in 2010. As a dance educator, Manzanales is committed to promoting a learning space centering Chicana/Latina Feminist theories, methodologies, and pedagogies of testimonio, plática, and convivencia. Conferences she has presented at include the New York State Dance Educators Association, ARTs + Change, and the National Dance Education Organization. In April 2022, she is thrilled to announce she will be co-presenting with fellow LXDEA members at “Decolonizing tertiary dance education: Time to act.” Michelle is committed to creating a classroom environment where all students are inspired to explore movement, feel supported in their individual dance journeys, and draw meaningful connections between dance and their lives. A current faculty member of the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance, she has also served on the faculties of the University of Houston, Rice University, Lou Conte Dance Studio (former Home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), and the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center. 

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Rabab Ghazoul (EP 51: Name, Listen, Witness) - 

Born in Mosul, Iraq, living in England from the age of 10, then moving to Wales at19, Rabab is a socially engaged visual artist, curator and since 2017, founder/director of Cardiff-based arts organization gentle/radical. Her interests lie in the points of contact between systems of power and individual agency; the dialogue can form a radical bridge; and the voices/shadows that are yet to speak, including her own. More widely, gentle/radical’s emergent work weaves together practices of social justice, radical spirituality and cultural renewal. As a collective of Wales-based practitioners/seekers, it is a space dedicated to dismantling the violences of capitalism, democratising the fixity of mainstream culture, exploring trajectories of slowness, and doing the work of decoloniality, through the labor and romance of comradeship.

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Precious Blake (EP 50: Speed of Trust) - 

Precious Diamond Blake is a visual journalist and non-profit administrator based in Philadelphia, PA. She collaborates with arts, education, design, and cultural practitioners to lead workshops, curate conversations, and co-develop projects that center holistic wellness and liberatory visioning. Precious received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration with a concentration in Printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and began her creative practice with Creatives of Color, a visual journalism project that collected the stories of culturally diverse Baltimore arts figures through type and illustrations. She has since expanded her artistic vision with Celestial Beings, an archiving project that charted the intergenerational journeys of five Black femmes who engage in spiritual practice as a healing art. In addition to her creative work, Precious has held several leadership roles at arts organizations in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. region including Arts Every Day, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council and as a member of the design for the wellbeing collective Black Womxn Flourish. Currently, she is the Senior Operations Manager at The Village of Arts and Humanities based in the Fairhill/Hartranft neighborhood in Philadelphia. At The Village, Precious focuses on aligning deep-rooted community values with operational excellence and effective systems management.


Mauricio Salgado (EP 49: Reframe Around Repair) - 

My name is Mauricio Tafur Salgado and in this moment I am divinely tormented +first gen born to proudly subversive Colombians with graduate degrees + brown-skinned + aspiring bio-regionalist + cis-hetero + married + father + artist pursuing justice and healing through a decolonial framework. I come from the everglades watershed, my antepasados and a solid plate of my grandma’s arepas and buñuelos. My educational background begins in the public schools and community centers of South Florida among migrant farmworkers. It was amongst those folks that I learned the power of the theatre to break through patriarchal and generational chasms. I then continued my training as a mischief-maker at the Juilliard School; in pedagogies of resistance at Union Theological Seminary in NYC, and in radical breathing at Brown University/Trinity Rep’s MFA. And somewhere at the soft center of all of that is this continuous dance that I am joyously fumbling through with my beloved and the divine. I am currently an Assistant Arts Professor, the Director of Applied Theatre, and the Program Manager for the Office of Diversity Initiatives in Undergraduate Drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. I am also a co-founder of Artists Striving to End Poverty, A Core Faculty member with artEquity, a Co-Producer of CRAFT Courses Programming with the CRAFT Institute, The Representation, Equity and Diversity Chair for the Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival a Co-Creative Producer with the Remember2019 Collective.

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Ashraf Hasham (EP 48: Justice is the GPS) - 

Ashraf Hasham leads a multifaceted team at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, overseeing the City’s youth investments in arts education, creative youth development, and career-connected learning, as well as its creative economy initiatives and grantmaking programs. He comes to this role from The Vera Project, a homegrown, nationally-renowned, participatory all-ages music venue & DIY arts space at the Seattle Center, where he served as Executive Director. Prior to that, he spent a short time with Chicago’s largest arts education provider, Urban Gateways, building capacity for their youth engagement & advocacy programs w/ Street-Level Youth Media. Before that, he got to work with an organization that changed his life as a young person in Seattle: TeenTix, a revolutionary arts access & youth empowerment organization, where he held multiple roles over the years, most recently Director of Programs & Partnerships. He also held roles at On the Boards and the Henry Art Gallery, and, while he was earning his bachelor’s degree in Arts Administration from Wagner College in New York City, he spent time in the editorial department of Aperture magazine.

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Rachael Jacobs (EP 47: Collectively Moving Toward Justice) - 

Rachael Jacobs is a lecturer in Creative Arts Education at Western Sydney University and a former secondary arts teacher. Rachael has facilitated art projects in community settings all over Australia, including in refugee communities, in prisons and in women’s refuges. She has consulted for the OECD in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals and to UNESCO’s International Commission on Futures of Learning. She is also a community activist, a freelance writer, aerial artist, South Asian dancer and choreographer and runs her own intercultural dance company.


Tina LaPadula (EP 46: Warrior Work) - 

Tina LaPadula is a warrior for equitable arts education. For more than 15 years she poured her creative energy into Arts Corps, the award-winning arts and social justice nonprofit she helped found. Currently, she serves as the Arts Education Manager at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, overseeing the The Creative Advantage, and other arts learning efforts designed to ensure Seattle young people have the arts educations they deserve. Tina supports the development of teaching artists locally and nationally through the Seattle Teaching Artist Network, as a faculty member with for The WA State Teaching Artist Training Lab and as a national advisor for the Teaching Artist Guild. Her writing and opinion have been featured by The National Guild for Community Arts Education and Americans for the Arts.


Kemy Joseph (EP 45: Pursuing Authentic Action) - 

Kemy Joseph is on a mission to help 5 Million business leaders advance equity in their organizations by 2030 to create a world where people of all backgrounds can live safely and thrive. Kemy helps purpose-driven business executives leverage equity as a pathway to prosperity to effectively lead their diverse teams through conflicts involving race, politics, and privilege. In a time where people feel so disconnected and unsafe, he’s able to create virtual safe spaces where people have real conversations that build trust, repair relationships, and create new sustainable solutions. He also uses a multi-camera setup with music, stories, and group exercises to create highly engaging, transformational experiences!


Dennie Palmer Wolf (EP 44: Oxygen in the Bloodstream) - 

Dennie is a principal at Wolfbrown, an arts and culture consulting firm working nationally and internationally to promote quality, diversity, and innovation in the creative sector. She leads the division Amplifying Creative Opportunities, a team of qualitative and quantitative researchers working with non-profits, foundations, and communities to change the distribution of resources and opportunities in the field of arts and culture. In that role, she is a fierce advocate for the role of the arts in people's lives and the work of teaching artists who multiply the depth and access to learning and living through the arts. 


Kwame Scruggs (EP 43: Tears on the Drum) - 

Kwame Scruggs has over 20 years of experience using myth in the development of male youth and adults. He holds a Ph.D. and MA in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Kwame also holds a MS degree in Technical Education with an emphasis in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Akron. In 1993, becoming formally initiated into the Akan System of Life Cycle Development (African-based rites of passage), Kwame became a facilitator of this process. Kwame is the founder and director of Alchemy, a non-profit organization in Akron, Ohio established in 2003. Alchemy uses myths to engage adolescents. In 2012, Alchemy was one of 12 programs to receive the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities—the nation’s highest honor for after-school and out-of-school programs. Alchemy was also the backdrop for a feature-length documentary, “Finding the Gold Within.” He is currently a Core Instructor for Mentor Agility and faculty at the Salome Institute of Jungian Studies, a teaching institute focused on socially relevant psychology. Since 2018, Kwame has been a Part Time Lecture for the DSW Program School of Social Work, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He has twice been a Key-Note presenter at Pacifica Graduate Institute and numerous C.G. Jung sites. 


Nai-Ni Chen (EP 42: Building and Strengthening Bridges) - 

Nai-Ni Chen is the founder, choreographer and Artistic Director of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company. Comes from a rich dance tradition she was a renowned traditional dancer in Taiwan where she was born and served on several ambassadorial culture missions to nineteen countries around the world. An early member of the Cloud Gate Dance Theater in Taiwan, she graduated from the Chinese Cultural University in 1982 and came to America to seek her own voice in the world of contemporary dance. Since the inception of her Company in 1988, Ms. Chen has created a wide-ranging repertory, from dances that originated thousands of years ago to highly abstract, modern works. Touring over 20 years around the United State, her company is the premiere resource for immigrant Chinese American cross-cultural dance works for presenters across the country. In addition to domestic touring, her company has also visited international festivals in Mexico, Canada, BVI, Guatemala, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, South Korea and China with support from Fund for Mutual Understanding, The President’s Committee for the Arts, Arts International and the State Department of the United States. Ms. Chen has received Choreographer’s Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and from New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her work has also been commissioned by the Joyce Theater Foundation, the Lincoln Center Institute, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Dancing in the Streets, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and New Jersey Performing Art Center.

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Felicia Rose Chavez (EP 41: Dear Reader: In Solidarity, Felicia) - 

Felicia Rose Chavez is an award-winning educator with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. She is author of The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom and co-editor of The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT with Willie Perdomo and Jose Olivarez. Felicia’s teaching career includes the University of New Mexico, where she was distinguished as the Most Innovative Instructor of the Year, the University of Iowa, where she was distinguished as the Outstanding Instructor of the Year, and Colorado College, where she received the Theodore Roosevelt Collins Outstanding Faculty Award. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she currently serves as Creativity and Innovation Scholar-in-Residence at Colorado College. For more information about The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, and to access (and add to) a multi-genre compilation of contemporary writers of color, please visit

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Russell Granet (EP 40: Striving Toward Belonging) - 

Russell Granet is President & CEO of New 42, the cultural nonprofit whose mission is to make extraordinary performing arts a vital part of everyone’s life from the earliest years onward through its signature projects, New 42 Studios and New Victory Theater. Under his leadership, New 42 expanded its virtual presentations and educator resources, including fully subsidized arts education for NYC public schools and the highly successful curriculum series, New Victory Arts Break, available online and broadcast nationwide on PBS as part of WNET’s Let’s Learn (2020-21) and WNET’s Camp TV (Summer 2020). Granet was formerly at Lincoln Center where he served as Executive Vice President of Lincoln Center Education, Community Engagement, and International, and as Acting President from April 2018 to May 2019, continuing his longstanding efforts to bring the best of the performing arts to the broadest possible audience. Granet also founded the consulting group Arts Education Resource and held leadership positions at The Center for Arts Education—The NYC Annenberg Challenge and American Place Theatre, and was a senior teaching artist in NYC public schools. He served on the faculty of the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University for 20 years, where he developed and taught the course Drama with Special Populations. Among numerous honors, Granet was recently named by Crain’s New York as a 2020 Notable LGBTQ Executive. He serves as an advisor to the NYC Mayor’s Cabinet for Children and is a trustee of Times Square Alliance, Bank Street College and Sherman Fairchild Foundation.


Alaina Newell (EP 36: Leading with Grace and Joy) - 

Alaina Newell is a cis black woman working as an artist and activist! She will be graduating Western Carolina University this year, earning her BFA in Musical Theatre. The founder/creator and current host of Fourth Wall: the podcast (Instagram: @thisisfourthwall), Alaina is working to push boundaries and lift up the marginalized voices in the theatre industry! When she isn't in class or working on the show, she is writing music, listening to other podcasts, or rewatching New Girl (again).

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Daniel Levy (EP 34: Reflection, Connection, and Resonance) - 

Daniel Levy is a composer and working musician in New York City whose work includes scores for plays, musicals, opera, and film. A leader in urban teaching artistry and arts program design, he has partnered with numerous arts-in-education institutions, including the 92nd Street Y, The Little Orchestra Society, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and Lincoln Center Education. Author: A Teaching Artist’s Companion: How To Define and Develop Your Practice: (Oxford University Press, 2019). Website:

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Ted Sod (EP 33: Introspective Dramaturgy) - 

Ted Sod has been dramaturg for the Education department at The Roundabout Theatre Company in NYC since 2001. He is an Arab-American gay male and has worked in NYC, internationally and regionally as a director, actor, playwright and teaching artist. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA, The Dramatists Guild, Actors Equity and SDC.  His duties as Education dramaturg at RTC are many and varied. He interviews the artists who make RTC’s productions possible, both for the online playgoers guide, Upstage, and when he conducts onstage Q&As after specific matinees. He also extensively researches each production and conducts pre-show talks and Q&As throughout the run of each show. As a performer, Sod has acted in plays produced by The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre, BAM Theatre Company, Second Stage, Playwrights' Horizons, American Place Theatre and the Circle, Seattle and Yale Repertory Companies, among others. He toured internationally in the New York Theatre Workshop production of Aftermath. He was a member of the Circle Repertory Theatre Lab and Company and has played roles on the television shows Blue Bloods, Nightcap, Bored to Death, Ugly Betty, Nurse Jackie, Law and Order, L & O: Criminal Intent L & O: SVU (twice), and Jonny Zero. His also appears in the films 5 Flights Up, Premium Rush, Touched with Fire, Frank vs. God, Keane and Crocodile Tears (which had a 20th anniversary screening in Seattle in 2016). 

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Lucy Wallace (EP 32: What Can't Be Lost) - 

Since Lucy was 8 years old, she has been dancing. In 2010 she bought a Boulder based dance studio after receiving her master’s degree in Psychology. Her psychology background led to the birth of Dance To Be Free due to the therapeutic and cathartic quality of her teaching style. Lucy has been invited to speak at several speaking engagements including Emerging Women and the first ever live streamed Tedx Talk at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. Her work is spreading and catching on throughout the prison industrial complex.


Rachel Watts (EP 31: Arts and Revolution for Liberation) - 



Dale Davis (EP 30: Artist. Educator. Champion.) - 

Dale Davis’s career as a writer, educator, publisher, scholar, producer, and dramaturge began in the 1970’s as one of the founding poets of New York State Poets In The Schools. In 1979, she established The New York State Literary Center (NYSLC) where she serves as Executive Director. Among the writers, editors, and artists who have worked with Davis in NYSLC's programs are Lemon Andersen, Homero Aridjis, Hakim Bellamy, William Bronk, Kenneth Burke, Ted Canning, Robert Creeley, Malcolm Cowley, Robert Duncan, Robert Fitzgerald, Kamilah Forbes, Jonathan Galassi, William Gratwick, Hugh Kenner, Ted Kooser, James Laughlin, Ruth Maleczech, Emir Rodriguez Monegal, Octavio Paz, David Shakes, William Stafford, Carrie Mae Weems, Eliot Weinberger, and Jonathan Williams. Davis created The Artist as Educator in 2019 to explore how artists navigate the environments in which they find themselves. The Artist as Educator investigates and shares the meeting points of an artist as an educator. Dale Davis’s writing has appeared in publications from The Iowa Review to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. Publications also include a book of poetry and chapters in Unseen Cinema and Classics In The Classroom. She is presently working on two books, fragments from teaching and Notes in Passing.


Ali Santana (EP 29: There's No Slash in Innovation) - 

Ali Santana is a multi-disciplinary artist working with collage, video, photography, sound, and performance. Santana, a native Brooklynite is influenced by community, natural patterns, unquantized rhythms and,  ancient cultures. His work often explores topics relating to personal identity, observations of nature, and sensory perception. Ali's live audio-visual shows combine experimental cinema with booming beats, sound design and field recordings which he edits, loops, and arranges in real-time to perform an abstract method of storytelling that he dubs Boom Bap Cinema. Ali is also an award-winning educator who shares his artistic practice, curiosity and experiments in music production, performance, and video art with students of all ages. He prioritizes accessibility, creative problem-solving and resourcefulness, emphasizing that anyone can use art as a tool for change. Ali recently received the 2019 award for ‘Innovation in Teaching Artistry’ from the Association of Teaching Artists for his work with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Teens program. Follow Ali on Instagram @boombaye.


Maura O'Malley and Ed Friedman (EP 28: Art vs. Ageism: Rewiring Perceptions) - 

Named a 2017, “Influencer in Aging,” by PBS Next Avenue, Maura promotes the field of Creative Aging at major national conferences in the arts, public library and senior service sectors. With almost 40 years’ experience in arts management; including program design and implementation, arts education, development and community cultural work, she has informed policy and created innovative programming for adults and children with premiere arts and educational organizations including the NYC Department of Education, Studio in a School and Young Audiences/New York. Maura leads the development of Lifetime Arts’ national programming models, training programs and resources for Creative Aging stakeholders including teaching artists. Maura graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Painting and earned a Master of Public Administration in Arts Policy and Planning from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She is a proud member of the National Advisory Board of the Teaching Artists Guild as well as a member of the Steering Committee for the National Guild of Community Arts Education Creative Aging Network.  

Ed has spent almost 40 years in parallel careers serving the arts community and older adults and their families. He is instrumental in the coordination and implementation of multiple national initiatives for Lifetime Arts and writes a monthly column, “Ed Talks,” on topics related to Creative Aging for the Lifetime Arts website. Ed oversees the organization’s finances, staffing and consultants and speaks about Lifetime Arts’ work at conferences and symposia across the country. Ed played a leadership role at The Bronx Council on the Arts serving as Deputy Director of 18 years. He has also directed programs at senior centers and home care organizations, and created and led a caregivers’ support group in the Bronx. Ed received a BA in Psychology from Hunter College and MA in Liberal Studies from Empire State College (SUNY). His plays and monologues appear in a number of anthologies and have been produced throughout the NY metropolitan area and around the country. He is the author of “Short Plays for Long Lives,” published by Blue Moon Plays.


Michael Wiggins (EP 27: Shifting Systems with Rigor and Love) - Michael Wiggins is a teaching artist and administrator with 25 years of experience. His preferred pronoun is we.


Erika Atkins and Katie Rainey (EP 26: A Rosé By Any Other Name) - This is a very special crossover podcast episode of Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie chatting with hosts of Rosé All Day Anyways, Erika Atkins and Katie Rainey! 


Who are we? Just two nerdy creative-types who love spreadsheets as much as theatre camp and graffiti walls (not the kind you’re thinking, see def: arts education). But this podcast isn’t about that, or, wait, maybe it is? We’re not limiting ourselves. But rest assured, in this conversational cast, we’ll touch on everything from arts education to politics to boy bands and, of course, all things rosé. Erika Atkins & Katie Rainey are two hot messes who somehow manage to keep pretty good jobs, do a shit ton of community organizing, run their own businesses, make art, and still have time to watch The Bachelor and drink rosé. And, like, we totally know anyways isn’t grammatically correct. Go shout into a dictionary already.


Jason Das (EP 25: Find Your Way) - Jason Das is an artist, designer, and educator in New York City. He is the author of the ongoing anthology series “Gas, Water, Nothing” and “If You See Something, Sketch Something.” He is currently busy rehabbing vintage guitars and composing a string quartet.


Michael Wiggins (EP 24: Art is Always the Answer) - 

Michael Wiggins is a teaching artist and administrator with 25 years of experience. His preferred pronoun is we. 


Esther McGowan and Shirlene Cooper (EP 23: Queens of Empowerment) - 

Esther was appointed Executive Director of Visual AIDS in 2017, where she had been Associate Director from 2012-2017. She is responsible for overseeing all of the organization’s programs, publications, grant-making and partnerships. She spearheads Visual AIDS fundraising efforts, including grant writing and the planning of two annual benefit events, Postcards from the Edge and the Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards. Previously, she served at The Center for Fiction where she was Development and Marketing Director. Prior to that, she was a freelance development consultant engaging in fundraising and benefit planning for clients such as The Watermill Center and The Bronx Museum of the Arts.  Esther has a long history of working with artists and institutions, including recent work on disability/accessibility and the arts with Disability/Arts/NYC and the Whitney Museum, and through managing the Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions, which provided grants and managerial oversight for the participation of U.S. artists at performance festivals and international visual art biennials worldwide. She was Development Director at Alliance for the Arts, Development and Programs Manager at Arts International, and earlier in her career, held positions at The Art Matters Foundation and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. She has a BA in Art History from New York University.


Shirlene is a Visual AIDS Artist Member, founder and project director of the Women's Empowerment and Art Therapy Group, and the Co-Executive Director of the New York City AIDS Housing Network. Shirlene is the first African American woman living with AIDS to sit on the New York City Council's HIV/AIDS Service Administrations Advisory Board, maintaining her position for 14 years and launching campaigns such as "HASA for All" and a 30% Rent Cap that supports over 41,000 New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. Shirlene is a community organizer, peer educator, and advocate with outreach extending to local, regional, national, and international communities.


Mindy Early-Barton (EP 22: Holding Space for Processing and Magic) - Mindy A. Early is a theatre artist, author, and educator who facilitates arts education workshops for learners of all ages at schools, community centers, corporations, and non-profits. Formerly the Resident Teaching Artist and Education Associate at Philadelphia Theatre Company, she is currently the Director of Education at Philadelphia Young Playwrights and the lead facilitator for the Bartol Foundation 20-hour Trauma-Informed Training for Teaching Artists. Through her work there and also her work as a freelance teaching artist and director, she has collaborated with many theatre and community organizations in Philadelphia, including InterAct Theatre, the Wilma Theater, 1812 Productions, the Walnut Street Theater, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, the Kimmel Center, the Mural Arts Program, Cliveden of the National Trust, and Episcopal Community Services. In addition to teaching over 1700 workshops at schools in the Greater Philadelphia Area, she regularly facilitates professional development sessions for community professionals, teachers, and teaching artists. Topics include trauma-aware facilitation, tactics for clear communication, instructional methods, and fostering creativity. Early has facilitated sessions for professionals across multiple sectors, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, The Kennedy Center VSA, the Stockton Bartol Rush Foundation, PHENND, the International Teaching Artist Conference, Leadership Philadelphia, and the School District of Philadelphia, to name a few. Early completed a 4-course Series for becoming trauma-aware, trauma-sensitive, and trauma-informed at the Lakeside Global institute. Her debut Young Adult novel will be published in 2020.


Oliver Butler (EP 21: What It Means About) - Oliver Butler (Director) Broadway: WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME (2019 Tony Award nomination for Best Play); Off-Broadway: collaborations with Will Eno including the first NYC revival of THOM PAIN (Signature Theater, starring Michael C. Hall) and THE OPEN HOUSE (Signature Theater, Lortel Best Play, Obie Award); world premiere of Jordan Harrison’s THE AMATEURS (Vineyard Theater). Regional: THE WHISTLEBLOWER (Denver Center), THOM PAIN (Geffen Playhouse, starring Rainn Wilson), LEGACY (Williamstown), BAD JEWS (Long Wharf), AN OPENING IN TIME (Hartford). International: TIMESHARE (Australia). He is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a Bill Foeller Fellow. Oliver is Co-Artistic Director of The Debate Society, productions include THE LIGHT YEARS (Playwrights Horizons), JACUZZI (Ars Nova), BLOOD PLAY (Bushwick Starr), BUDDY COP 2 (Ontological), CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT (PS122), and 4 other TDS plays.

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Ty Defoe (EP 20: Story Nurturer) - Ty Defoe (Giizhig) is from the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations. He is an interdisciplinary-hyphenated artist, activist, writer, cultural worker, and shape-shifter. As a two-spirit person Tyaspires to an integral approach to artistic projects, social justice, indigeneity, and environmentalism. Ty gained recognition in many circles around the world including a Grammy Award for his work on “Come to Me Great Mystery.” Ty’s global cultural arts highlights are: the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt with the Call for Peace Drum and Dance Company; Turkey for the Ankara International Music Festival, and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai. Ty’s frequents his own community where he learned to hoop dance, eagle dance, and play a variety of wooden flutes. Ty is always a guest artist at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and NYC. Awards include: NEA/NEFA for reconstructing and indigenizing, Drum is Thunder, Flute is Wind, First American in the Arts Outstanding Performance Award, First Americans in the Arts Scholarship Award, an Indigenous Heritage Festival Award: this award is given to artists who have made a major positive impact on indigenous people and rights of the world, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, 2016-2018 Olga J. and G. Roland Denison visiting artist Professorship of Native American Studies at Central Michigan University, 2016-2017 Institute of the American Indian Arts Visiting Artist, 2017 Jonathan Larson Award winner creating book and lyrics on “Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon (w/ composer Tidtaya Sinutoke at Yale Institute for Musical Theatre; ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop), Hart Island Requiem (The Civilians R&D Group), Crossing Borders (CAP 21), Red Pine (Native Voices at the Autry; IAIA of Santa Fe), The Way They Lived (Co-collaboration w Micharne Cloughley and The Civilians at the Met Museum), writer on Ajijaak on Turtle Island (Ibex Puppetry at La MaMa Theater, NYC, Lied Center for the Performing Arts, NE). Ty is a co-founder of Indigenous Direction (w/ Larissa FastHorse). His writing publications can be viewed in the Pitkin Review, Woody Guthrie Anthology, the Thorny Locust Magazine, and Howl Round. He has received degrees from CalArts, Goddard College, NYU’s Tisch. A Theater Communications Group Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellow alumni and an artEquity facilitator. He appeared on Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as Young Anthony Black Elk and recently made his Broadway debut in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men directed by Anna Shapiro. He lives in NYC and loves the color clear. He | Him | They | We | Us

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Leida "Lady Sol" Garcia (EP 19: The Equity Up Rock) - Leida “Lady Sol” Garcia is a proud Mexican-American street dance
professional, mother, wife and Chicago native who is globally recognized as a teaching artist, creative director, and manager. She is a proud Founding member of Chicago's pioneer Hip-Hip arts education organization, Kuumba Lynx (1997). Lady Sol is directly responsible for bringing Chicago's footwork/juke dance culture to the mainstream through her former dance ensemble project, FootworKINGz who performed with Missy Elliott and Madonna. She is a self-proclaimed “Professor of Practice” who has taught Afro-Caribbean dance fusion guest workshops at Harvard University, Columbia College, Stanford University, and University of
Chicago. She has served as a teaching artist with Urban Gateways since 2005. Her dance works have graced platforms directly with music giants Damian Marley, Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes, Cham, Elephant Man, and Dancehall pioneer Lady Patra. Her newest work in progress, "Lady Sol's Dance Diary" is an autobiographical, Hip-Hop theater show that humorously explores music industry politics, cross-cultural identity, and the growing pains of uncovering self-love. Bob Marley ah say, "Those who feel
it, know it!"


Elgin Bokari Smith (EP 18: CommUNITY Calling: A Flashpoint for Representation) - 

Elgin Bokari T. Smith, aka "L O Kari",  is a Chicago based DJ, Activist, Visual and Performing Artist from St. Louis, Missouri. Born in 1987, L O Kari was heavily influenced by the soulful sounds of RnB, Jazz, Hip Hop, Gospel, and Alternative Rock. While attending Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Elgin discovered that he had an ear for music and began creating music on piano and guitar while adding his unique flavor. Now known as L O Kari, Elgin has performed domestically and abroad - ranging from New York, St. Louis, Ohio, Seattle, South Korea, Japan, and all over the Chicago land area. He has shared stages with the likes of Bone Thugs and Harmony, Ruby Ibarra, The Terra Godz, Saba, Da Brat, Clark Airlines, Mega Ran, Bop Alloy, No Name Gypsy, DJ Esco, Young Chop, Lil Crazed, Rebel Diaz, Twista, and Chingy… just to name a few. His style is very smooth and transformative. Blending mixes of Hip hop, RnB, Electronic, Trap and EDM. Some of his influences include Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Nujabes, Linkin Park, Joe Hisaishi, LORN, and Prince. What is most notable about his style is his ability to adapt to the vibe of the audience he's serving.  Elgin also gives back to his community as a Teaching Artist, Program Director of Free Write Arts & Literacy, and President of the activist and artist collective, Elephant Rebellion. Elgin also is the co-creator of Pocket Con the comic book convention that celebrates characters of color.

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Quanice Floyd (EP 17: Shaking Foundations for a New Paradigm) - Quanice G. Floyd is a renaissance woman who wears many capes. Born and raised in NYC, she has spent over a decade in Washington, DC where she has received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Howard University and Kent State University respectively. Her passion for arts administration led her to pursue her second Master’s degree in Arts Management at American University and is currently a doctoral student at Drexel University. Quanice is currently the Director of Learning and Leadership Development at the National Guild for Community Arts Education. She is also the Founder & Director of the Arts Administrators of Color (AAC) Network, an organization committed to empowering artists and arts administrators by advocating for access, diversity, inclusion, and equity in the arts in the DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas. She also serves as a co-host of the AAC Network's podcast, Art Accordingly, which interrogates systemic and institutional issues of oppression and inequity within the arts administration field. For the past decade, she has been a public-school music educator where she taught elementary school general music, chorus, band, and orchestra. Quanice also serves as a board member for two DC arts organizations, and is an alumna of the National Guild for Community Arts Education's Leadership Institute, ArtEquity's Racial Facilitator Cohort, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Music Educators and Arts Administrators Academy, 4.0 Schools' Essentials Program, and the Arts Education Collaborative’s Leadership Academy. In 2018, Quanice received the Americans for the Arts' American Express Emerging Leader Award.


Thomas Cabaniss (EP 16: Striving for Harmony) - Thomas Cabaniss is a composer and teaching artist who writes for opera, theater, dance, film, and the concert stage. He is composer-in-residence and host for Carnegie Hall’s LinkUp program, and he leads the Lullaby Project and other songwriting workshops for the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall – serving healthcare, correctional and community settings. He has written over thirty scores for theaters across the country, various works for orchestra, choral, chamber music and an opera based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Sandman. He has been on the faculty of The Juilliard School for 20 years, and he is a member of ASCAP.


Cecily O'Neill (EP 15: The Process of Drama) - Cecily is a writer, dramaturg and the author of several  influential books on drama education, including "Drama Structures", "Dorothy Heathcote: Essential Writings on Education and Drama" and "Drama Worlds", which has recently been translated into Korean and Chinese. Cecily is an Associate Professor Emerita at The Ohio State University and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Winchester. She has been Resident Dramaturg for New York University’s annual series New Plays for Young Audiences since 2008. In 2016 she founded the performance and publishing venture 2TimeTheatre. Her adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s short stories had its off-Broadway premiere at the Players Theatre New York in 2015.


Jean Johnstone (EP 14: The Artistry of Social Equity) - Jean Johnstone is the Executive Director of Teaching Artists Guild, a national organization dedicated to strengthening the field of teaching artistry. She was Interim Director of the Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership of the Bay Area, and founding Director of Applied Theater Action Initiative, which developed and ran international multimedia programs for youth, programs for artists transitioning from homelessness, and incarcerated youth. Jean studied at The Moscow Art Theater and spent several years teaching drama and directing in Hong Kong. She sits on the Policy Council for the California Alliance for Arts Education, and is a board member of the Francophone School. She holds a graduate certificate and bachelor's degree in Theater Arts from University of California, Santa Cruz, and certificates from the Moscow Art Theater and Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

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Shawn Ginwright (EP 13: Soul Rebel) - Shawn Ginwright is a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. In 1989, Dr. Ginwright founded Leadership Excellence Inc. an innovative youth development agency located in Oakland, California that trains African American youth to address pressing social and community problems. In 2002 he also created the Research Collaborative on Youth Activism, a network of scholars activist who study, advocate and support youth organizing efforts around the country. He is the Co-Founder of Flourish Agenda, a social impact company that supports schools and community organizations with building well-being and healthy school climates. He is the author of “Hope and Healing in Urban Education: How Activists and Teachers are Reclaiming Matters of the Heart”, “Black in School- Afrocentric Reform, Black Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture” and co-editor of” Beyond Resistance!: Youth Resistance and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America's Youth” and in 2010 he published “Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America”.


Edie Demas (EP 10: The Sphere of Cultural Responsibility) - Edie joined the JBFC as Executive Director in May 2014. Prior to JBFC, Edie collaborated with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and was Director of Education at NYC’s New Victory Theater for ten seasons. While under her direction, the theater’s education programs were honored with the Americans for the Arts annual award for Arts Education and Demas herself received a BAXten award for her work with teaching artists and young audiences. Edie holds an MA and PhD from New York University’s Program in Educational Theatre where she was a member of the adjunct faculty from 1990 - 2010. Recent initiatives created at the JBFC include Creative Culture: Fellowships, Residencies, and Production Partnerships for Filmmakers, JBFCKids, and In Performance at the JBFC: Deconstructing the Beatles, a series of multi-media music lectures currently being distributed by Abramorama.

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Skyler Sullivan (EP 9: The Choice of No Bounds) - This actor, director, and educator, originally from Hartford, CT, started off studying music and theatre at Emerson College, where he earned his B.F.A. After meeting mime, Tony Montanaro, his path changed to physical theatre. His love of storytelling and circus landed him with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and he trained at the SF Circus Center. He has worked with such companies as Big Apple Circus Clown Care, Bread and Puppet, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and the American Mime Theatre. When he is not performing, he can be found teaching at: The New Victory Theatre, The La Jolla Playhouse, Fern St. Circus, The Old Globe, The Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and running the education and outreach department of Diversionary Theatre. Skyler is also a clown doctor healing sick kids and their families with Healthy Humor, and will be a clown in residence at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT in August.  He is most happy working with kids and community members, using the arts to heal, express, and change how they experience the world. He holds an MFA from Brooklyn College.



Lauren Jost (EP 7: Theater as Human Education) - Lauren is a theatre artist and arts educator in New York. She is the Artistic Director of Spellbound Theatre, New York’s award-winning theatre exclusively for the very young. Lauren can occasionally be found performing as a storyteller and puppeteer, but spends most of her time directing and producing Spellbound’s public, school, and national touring theater productions for children ages 0-5. Additionally, Lauren works as a Master Teaching Artist in schools, libraries and community centers around New York with organizations such as The New Victory Theater, Lifetime Arts, and New York University. Lauren is also a mom to J. and L., whose imaginations are her daily inspiration.



Signe V. Harriday (EP 6: The Radical Poetry of A Calling) - Signe V. Harriday is a multidisciplinary artist, teacher, trainer, director, activist, and theatre producer. She is Co-founder of MaMa mOsAiC, a women of color theater company whose mission is to evoke positive social change through female centered work that is empowering and entertaining. She is an Associate Company Member of Pillsbury House Theatre. She splits her time between New York and Minnesota as she works to encourage positive social change using the tools of theatre to guide and inform the process. She is a founding member of Million Artist Movement which is a network of artists and activists committed to Black liberation and healing. As a teaching artist she works with a variety of theatres, schools, and community organizations. She has designed and implemented arts curriculum for professional theatres, arts organizations, and school districts. As a director, dramaturg, and collaborator, Signe works with other artists to articulate and develop their vision and artistry.  Most recently she directed Cardboard Piano at Park Square Theatre and Slut: The Play at Macalester College in St. Paul. She earned her MFA in Acting at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard and Moscow Art Theatre. She also conducts customized leadership and anti-oppression trainings for a wide-range of audiences.



Penelope McCourty (EP 5: Giving Space) - Penelope McCourty has 20+ years’ experience as a facilitator of creative process and community sharing through the art forms of dance and performance. She has worked artistically and administratively with several locally and nationally known dance companies and community arts organizations. As a performer, she has worked with local and touring companies including Marlies Yearby’s Movin’ Spirits Dance Theater, Spoke the Hub Dancing, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, the Shakespeare Theater Company, Stephen Koplowitz and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group. Her choreographic work has been presented at St. Mark’s Church, Joyce Soho, Chicago’s Links Hall, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, DIA NYC, BRIC, DanceSpace, Towson University and San Francisco State University. Penelope received the 2014 NYU/Steinhardt School Exemplary Teaching Artist Award and the Elders Share the Arts Visionary Artist Award for her work as an arts educator. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is the middle and upper school dance teacher at The Berkeley Carroll School in Park Slope. She also teaches residencies and professional development workshops through New Victory Theater, Park Avenue Armory’s Artist Corps, Elders Share the Arts and Madison Square Park.



Sobha Kavanakudiyil (EP 3: Fierce Search) - A professor of Educational Theatre at The City College of New York, Sobha has been an Arts Education Consultant for many organizations in and around New York City including The Apollo Theater, The Center for Arts Education, Urban Arts Partnership, and The New Victory Theater. In October of 2016, Sobha she was a featured Keynote at the New Orleans Theatre in Our Schools Conference. She is on the Board of Directors as a Vice Chair for the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable where she also is Co-Chair for the Face to Face Conference, Board of Directors as National Programming Director for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and on the Board of Directors for the Association of Teaching Artists. She has been a presenter at many conferences both in New York State and Nationally, including the National AATE Conference, Face to Face Conference in New York City, NYU Applied Theatre and Pedagogy Conference and the NYU Teaching Artist Forum to name a few.   Sobha has a strong commitment to quality and accessible arts education for all.  She earned her B.A. in Communications from Fordham University and her M.A. in Educational Theatre from NYU. For more information please go to

James Miles (EP 1: Fresh Professor) - Executive Director of Seattle-based Arts Corps, and Master Teaching Artist, James has worked in arts education for nearly 20 years.  Formerly the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership, James has also facilitated workshops and designed curriculum for the New Victory Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Disney Theatrical Group, Theatre for a New Audience, Center of Arts Education, BAX, Brooklyn Arts, Council, Opening Act, and(Out)Laws & Justice. James has taught a myriad of courses at NYU, ranging from Acting and Directing to EdTech and Special Education. He is on the board of directors for the Association of Teaching Artists and the Teaching Artist Journal. A graduate of Morehouse College and Brandeis University, James has presented at SXSWedu, NYU's IMPACT Festival, Creative Tech Week, EdTech Europe, Google Educator Bootcamp, Face to Face Conference, Geek Street Festival, NY Tech MeetUp, Civic Hall, and has provided Professional Development to teachers across the country. His work has been covered by Pie News, New Profit, Complex Magazine, NPR, CBS, US Department of Education, and ASCD. James is a former accountant, model, and actor. He can be frequently found on Twitter, as @fresh_professor, writing about arts education, educational policy, and academic inequity.

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