2016-17 Activate Projects

Members of the 2016-17 ACTIVATE Program cohort launched advocacy initiatives (Action Projects) impacting 31 cities and 16 school districts across LA County. Below you can learn more about these Fellows and their advocacy initiatives.

Avital Aboody

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 6

Avital Aboody, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Van Nuys, feels deeply connected to the neighborhood in which her family has lived since 1959. She set out to lay the groundwork for a new community center where young adults can come together to employ their creativity, labor, and shared resources toward building a more just and sustainable neighborhood. Aboody met with City Council staff members and dozens of young Van Nuys residents to collect research on desires, assets, and challenges in the community, presenting her findings at Antioch University. She is currently working with her local Council District offices to host public art and place-making events in underutilized spaces in Van Nuys. She hopes her project will be a step towards strengthening the resilience of young and diverse residents of Van Nuys, and helping them thrive as a proud and unified community.

Link to Project 1


Adrienne Adams

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 1

Adrienne Adams, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles, studies at Occidental College and focuses on building arts and advocacy opportunities for queer and trans youth of color. As a Communications Associate for REACH LA, a 25-year-old arts and health nonprofit, Adams has collaborated with 365 Mission Gallery and local queer youth advocates to create the Miss Slay LA Drag Pageant, in which eight queens will compete to win the titles of Miss Slay LA and Drag Ambassador of REACH LA. In support of the pageant, Adams is training each contestant on the fundamentals of advocacy, and will work with the winner to organize around arts access and health policy issues facing LGBT youth of color. In the future, Adams plans to expand the Miss Slay LA Drag Pageant into an annual event that continues to provide local drag performers of color with an artistic and advocacy platform.

Link to Project 1


Jennifer Babcock

Arts Education
Glendale Unified

Jennifer Babcock, an Arts Education Fellow from Glendale, is the Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement at the LA Opera, and has lived in the Glendale Unified School District for 16 years. Babcock has been advocating for the hiring of a Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator and the establishment of a district-wide plan for arts education in Glendale. To assist this goal, she is enlisting the help of a task force of Glendale-area arts nonprofit administrators, teachers, parents, and students. She has also met with a variety of stakeholders in the community and has given public comment to the Board of Education regarding this issue. Babcock envisions the enactment of an arts education plan and the installment of a VAPA Coordinator as steps towards equitable access to consistent and comprehensive arts education for all students in Glendale.

Link to Project 1


Hannah Bonaparte

Cultural Policy
Santa Monica

Hannah Barth Bonaparte, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Santa Monica, is working to provide high-caliber performing arts events to older, long-time residents of her community. As waves of gentrification mean arts and culture planning increasingly cater to a younger audience, Bonaparte hopes to ensure that older Santa Monica patrons do not get left behind. She has been coordinating with the Broad Stage, one of Los Angeles’ leading presenters of innovative works of art, and WISE and Healthy Aging, Santa Monica’s leading service provider of programming for older adults. Bonaparte’s plan is to have the Broad Stage extend the benefits of their Family Circle program to older adults, with the support of WISE and Healthy Aging.


Alina Borja

Cultural Policy
Pasadena

Alina Borja, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Pasadena, is working on a project to support the visibility of immigrants in her neighborhood. In an attempt to combat the current political rhetoric that demonizes and dehumanizes immigrant lives, her project attempts to photograph individuals that represent the wide diversity of Pasadena’s immigrant community. Borja hopes to display these snapshot portraits publicly so that the individuals and communities they represent are made visible to all of their neighbors in Pasadena. She is collaborating with another local project that works to change perspectives about the Mexican community in Los Angeles, and her project is ongoing.


Sara Brown

Arts Education
iLEAD Schools

Sara Brown, an Arts Education Fellow from Santa Clarita, has served on the Santa Clarita Arts Master Plan Stakeholder Committee and the Santa Clarita Arts Alliance, and represents iLEAD schools, a growing network of project-based learning public charter schools. As an ACTIVATE Fellow, Brown began to develop a Strategic Arts Plan that will likely result in the creation of an Arts Task Force for iLEAD schools. Her process included meeting with iLEAD’s executive team and Arts for All staff. Because iLEAD is often asked to provide training at schools across the country, Brown hopes that in creating a Strategic Arts Plan for iLEAD schools, she will also be able to affect growth in arts education not only in Los Angeles, but across the country.


Jessica Ceballos Campbell

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 1

Jessica Ceballos, a Cultural Policy Fellow representing Highland Park and Van Nuys, is founding The Interchange, a fully searchable data resource center that connects artists and arts organizations working to address civic issues with their city council members. The Interchange will present and highlight the current inter- and multidisciplinary work done by local artists and arts organizations on issues from transportation and public safety to immigration and climate justice. Ceballos is conducting research and working on securing funding through grant writing, and hopes that the project ultimately will be a resource for artists and elected officials alike, in order to acknowledge the value of artistic civic engagement and foster sustainable equity in community relations.

Link to Project 1


Amy Cheung von Haam

Cultural Policy
San Gabriel

Amy Cheung von Haam, a Cultural Policy Fellow from San Gabriel, has lived in the area for almost two decades. Building on the city’s recent push for more cultural events located at the Mission Playhouse and in the historic Mission District, Cheung von Haam has proposed a community yarn-bombing project to her City Council representative. The project will include submissions of yarn-based public art projects from various community groups, and sponsorship and material donations from local businesses as well as the Chamber of Commerce. Cheung von Hamm is scheduling the yarn-bombing for the summer, as part of the city’s Fourth of July celebration. In the meantime, she has been appointed to the Community Services Commission for a term of two years. In this role, she hopes to garner support for her yarn-bombing project and provide a voice for the San Gabriel arts community, by expanding arts programming outside of the historic Mission District to unite the multi-ethnic residents of the area.


Russell Copley

Russell serves 164 schools as the K-12 Arts Integration Specialist in the Local District Central region of Los Angeles Unified School District.  As a native South African Russell has been engaged in social justice initiatives in the arts for many years, working as a director, actor and activist in Cape Town, Johannesburg, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Perth before migrating the the USA in 1995.  Russell taught Theatre Arts in LAUSD for 10 years before transitioning into an arts administration position.  His passion is grounded in the belief that the arts remediate trauma, and advocates strongly for the arts to lead the Social & Emotional Learning initiative in LAUSD.  

As an Arts for LA ACTIVATE Fellow in 2016-17, Russell produced the South-Central Dance Festival as his culminating project. You can find the link to Russell's ACTIVATE project HERE.


Bruno Correa

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 5

Bruno Correa, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Westwood, has been establishing his Los Angeles roots after moving to the city last fall to study at UCLA. Initially hoping to facilitate interaction between his school and the surrounding community through an arts event focused on local artists, Correa is currently working with student groups and the UCLA administration to plan such an event for the coming year. Correa conceptualizes the event as a platform for students and local artists to come together to honor the art and culture of the Americas, with the inclusion of poetry, visual art, and music from the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Link to Project 1


Holly Crawford

Cultural Policy
El Segundo

Holly M. Crawford, a Cultural Policy Fellow from El Segundo, is the Manager of Education at the art laboratory ESMoA, where she engages El Segundo residents, artists, businesses, and civic leaders in dialogue about the future of art in the City. Crawford helped ESMoA to plan the ELSEGUNSISSIMO Experience exhibition in honor of El Segundo’s centennial. The exhibition featured creative proposals that blended art and public good from artists from around the world. During the ACTIVATE program, Crawford organized a panel with city leaders, artists, and art activists for a futurist discussion about the arts in El Segundo, and invited event attendees to tour the exhibition with the panelists to faciliate an informative, fun and creative dialogue. Crawford plans to continue her arts advocacy by collaborating with El Segundo’s Arts & Cultural Advisory Committee on strategies to engage city and cultural agencies; artists and residents; adults and youth to develop and support an Arts & Cultural Plan for the City.


Amorette Crespo

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 14

Amorette Crespo, a Cultural Policy Fellow from El Sereno, grew up, attended both K-12 and university, and now raises her young daughter in Council District 14. She has been collaborating with local artists and high school students to create murals in her neighborhood, in an effort to bring more arts resources into the area. In the long term, she would like to help implement an art class focused on mural making at the local high school, and to see murals created all around her community.


Jamie Crooke Powell

Cultural Policy
Pasadena

Jamie Crooke Powell, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Pasadena, is an artist, educator, and administrator. Setting out to advocate for an increase in socially-engaged, public practice art projects to address community health needs, she initially spoke with an Arts Commissioner, the City Grants Manager, and the Cultural Affairs manager about adding a new grant category. She has submitted an Individual Artist Grant to develop a process-based art project called “Drawing Together,” that will explore the ways in which art can help build a culture of health in the city. Her long-term goal is to build a network of passionate individuals that can create collective impact on community health through arts and arts programming.


Claire Darsa

Arts Education
Inglewood

Claire Darsa, an Arts Education Fellow from Inglewood, is driven by her experience as the English Language Arts Instructional Coach for the Inglewood Unified School District. With the goal of compelling Inglewood USD to make art instruction a priority in each classroom, Darsa reached out to Dr. Jacqueline Landrum-Sanderlin, Inglewood USD’s Executive Director of School and Community Relations. The result of their collaboration was the establishment of a district-wide Arts Committee, which is now creating a Visual and Performing Arts Strategic Action Plan. Darsa continues to work with the Arts Committee on finding sustainable implementation strategies for each school in the district. In the long-term, she seeks to ensure that every Inglewood USD student has art instruction in every year of their schooling.

Link to Project 1
Link to Project 1


Cathryn Deering

Arts Education
LAUSD 7

Cathryn Deering, an Arts Education Fellow from Watts, is the music teacher and arts coordinator at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in LAUSD District 7. After Joyner was designated a Turnaround Arts School as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to bolster public education, she played a key role in the creation of a sustainable arts integration program. Deering worked on the school’s strategic arts plan, garnered support for the programming from local stakeholders, and helped to submit a proposal to designate Joyner a Visual and Performing Arts Magnet. Deering hopes to support the school’s transition to a VAPA Magnet by the 2018-19 school year and to help provide successful, high quality, and rigorous learning through arts-centered, integrated education.


Iona de la Torre

Cultural Policy
Santa Clarita

Iona de la Torre, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Santa Clarita, has been working with multiple generations of ACTIVATE Fellows to support the implementation of the city’s 2016 Master Plan, particularly in underrepresented areas of the city inhabited largely by renters. As an Arts Delegate, she has successfully agitated for the declaration of April 11th as Arts Day in Santa Clarita. Currently, she is working on the establishment of an Arts Advocacy Fund to benefit initiatives to better Santa Clarita through the arts. The Fund will be managed by Forge Ahead Arts, a local arts nonprofit spearheaded by 2014-15 ACTIVATE Fellow Stephanie O'Connor. De la Torre plans to partner with Santa Clarita Valley Alliance for the Arts, which has been bolstered by the work of 2016-16 ACTIVATE Fellows Michael and Maria Dean, and various performance ensembles and organizations from around the region.

Link to Project 1


Alisa De Los Santos

Arts Education
Santa Monica/Malibu Unified

Alisa De Los Santos, an Arts Education Fellow from Santa Monica, is the Education and Community Programs Manager at The Broad Stage. As an ACTIVATE Fellow, she focused on creating partnerships between the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and community arts providers to address the gaps in current arts education offerings. She met with the District VAPA Coordinator and a School Board member to better understand how the current arts programs excel and where there is opportunity for improvement. De Los Santos is holding a focus group of teachers and administrators, and attending VAPA District Advisory Committee meetings as they evaluate their progress on their strategic arts plan. Her ultimate goal is to mobilize community organizations to ensure that every student in SMMUSD has equitable access to music, dance, theatre, visual arts and media learning opportunities as they matriculate from kindergarten through twelfth grade.


Melanie DuBose

Arts Education
LAUSD 2

Melanie DuBose, an Arts Education Fellow from East Los Angeles, teaches at a high school in LAUSD. She has been developing a project-based curriculum for AP English Language and AP English Literature, with the goal of boosting student achievement in underserved communities. DuBose has organized a group of collaborators to document their use of arts-centered AP English programming in the classroom. She is preparing to present the curriculum, along with evidence of its efficacy, to College Board.


Eleni Duret

Arts Education
LAUSD 2

Eleni Duret, an Arts Education Fellow from Los Angeles, advocates for her local LAUSD District 2. Duret built a partnership between a regional arts institute and Boyle Heights’ i.am College Track program, resulting in the creation of six paid summer internships for i.am College Track high school students. Duret designed the orientation materials for the students in this new program as well as a resource guide that includes a directory of arts internships for students to explore after completing the initial internship. She plans to support the first class of interns throughout their experience, and to continue to expand her advocacy to encourage additional i.am College Track scholars to explore careers in the creative economy.

Link to Project 1


Matt Fetbrandt

Cultural Policy
West Hollywood

Matt Fetbrandt, a Cultural Policy Fellow from West Hollywood, has been working with the City's Arts Division to develop and implement a Cultural Arts Plan that will serve the community for the next five to ten years. Specifically, Fetbrandt aims to address the urgent needs of artists in WeHo, advocating for cultural equity through the development of a multifunctional and collaborative rehearsal, studio, and performance space within the City's boundaries. He has engaged and consulted with City arts officials, planners, and community members alike in the greater effort to establish this vital resource in West Hollywood. Fetbrandt envisions, and will continue to serve as an advocate for, an arts center that will serve the spectrum of creative expression in The Creative City.


Natasia Gascon

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 5

Natasia Gascon, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles, represents the Palms neighborhood in Council District 5, where she has lived for almost a decade. With the guidance of the ACTIVATE program, she created a comprehensive asset map that identifies, catalogs and geographically locates Palms’ arts and cultural offerings. The asset map was designed to emphasize the cultural significance of these assets, increase civic pride in the community, and identify the distinct character of Palms, including its cultural assets that have been mistakenly attributed to other neighborhoods. Gascon is currently working to convert the asset map report into an interactive website where Palms residents can find up-to-date information on creative assets and submit contributions and feedback regarding the arts in Palms. She also aims to community leaders and stakeholders to utilize the data to establish community-wide activities and establish new arts and cultural policies in the Palms area.

Link to Project 1


DeSean Gilliam-Hinton

Arts Education
Inglewood

DeSean Gilliam-Hinton, an Arts Education Fellow from Inglewood, teaches first grade in the Inglewood Unified School District. Gilliam-Hinton identified integration of the arts across the curriculum as a problem in Inglewood schools, and worked to develop an arts integration lesson plan template that can be used for all academic subjects. Currently, her lesson plan centers around theater arts, and incorporates actor’s toolbox warm-ups, theater games, and performance into daily learning. In the long term, Gilliam-Hinton hopes to expand on this lesson plan to provide all teachers in Inglewood USD with an arts integration strategy that works from elementary through high school.


Michalle Gould

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 2

Michalle Gould, a Cultural Policy Fellow from North Hollywood, represents Council District 2, where she works as a librarian. She is building on the concept of the “human library,” in which individuals with compelling stories can be “checked out” like books, and spend ten to fifteen minutes telling their story to a reader and answering the reader’s questions. She hopes to employ the “human library” in her neighborhood to build community and an understanding of local history, with a project that focuses on storytelling connected by a common theme, location, or historical event.


Kimberly Griffith

Cultural Policy
Lancaster

Kimberly Griffith, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Lancaster, works as an Engagement Liaison at the Lancaster Museum of Art & History. She is currently completing a Master's in Cultural Studies and Museum Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where she hopes to learn to apply empathy, an enhanced understanding of diversity, and the inclusion of non-dominant narratives to her career as a museum professional. Griffith collaborated with local arts educator Kris Holladay and artist Nicolas Shake to lead the Lancaster Museum of Art & History’s Wasteland project in its second year. Wasteland employs hands-on art creation as a vehicle for teaching about the environmental, social, aesthetic, and economic impacts of illegal waste dumping on the High Desert ecosystem of the Lancaster area. Griffith brought Wasteland to R. Rex Parris High School, leading sessions on the dangers of illegal waste dumping and the history of recycled art. She facilitated trips to illegal dump sites in the Mojave desert, where students simultaneously assisted in a larger cleanup effort and collected materials to repurpose for their own recycled sculptures. Together, they constructed 9 life-sized Joshua trees made of organic materials, tin cans, and rolled paper. The project is designed to empower students by allowing them to hone their creative problem-solving skills. It also represents a successful implementation of interdisciplinary learning, with tie-ins to performing and visual arts, health, science, mathematics, and government. Griffith is currently working on expanding Wasteland by adding writing, music, and engineering to the curriculum and creating an instructional manual that will allow the program to reach a wider array of students.

Link to Project 1


Linda Grimes

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 15

Linda Grimes, a Cultural Policy Fellow from San Pedro, represents Council District 15, where she is the Managing Director of the San Pedro Waterfront Arts District. Grimes has been organizing to enter San Pedro into the running for the Cultural District two-year pilot program conducted by the California Arts Council. The result of her labor is the formation of a coalition of San Pedro-based arts and cultural organizations: the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, CD 15 Councilman Joe Busciano, the Grand Vision Foundation, and Angels Gate Cultural Center. San Pedro was selected as a semifinalist, and Grimes hopes that her coalition will encourage its selection.

Link to Project 1


Judy Hession

Arts Education
Burbank Unified

Judy Hession, an Arts Education Fellow from Burbank, has seen first-hand how the arts make a positive impact on students’ lives through her role as Principal of Miller Elementary School in the Burbank Unified School District. Hession seeks to continue to provide students with as many opportunities as possible to explore dance, theater, music, visual, and media arts, and to advocate for the integration of the arts across curricular areas. To this end, she has attended the School Board Study Session on the Arts for All Plan as well as several LCAP meetings, and has met with the Burbank School Board President, the Superintendent, the Director of Elementary Education, and the Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator to discuss the status of the arts in Burbank schools. Recently, she served as an Arts Delegate for ArtsDay 2017, and she is continuing her year-long participation in the Arts Education Innovation Lab Leadership Team. Hession is in the process of reviewing and updating the school site Arts Plan and aligning it with the District Arts for All Plan, as well as fundraising to further develop her school’s performing arts programs.


Onya Hogan-Finlay

Arts Education
Pasadena Unified

Onya Hogan-Finlay, an Arts Education Fellow from Pasadena, is a Teaching Artist and Instructor with UCLA's Visual and Performing Arts Education program (VAPAE) and the former Assistant Director of School and Professional Development Programs at the Armory Center for the Arts. She has worked with K-12 students and teachers at Title I schools in Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Her ACTIVATE Action Project is in-progress and will connect her passions for arts-integrated curriculum with the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act (FAIR Education Act, Senate Bill 48). The long term goal of her project is to collaborate local cultural institutions and stakeholders to offer a summer enrichment program that focuses on LGBTQ histories and visual arts as a high school credit recovery opportunity.


Scott Holleran

Cultural Policy
Burbank

Scott Holleran, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Burbank, is a writer and journalist who uses storytelling to affirm life, both in his own writing and by teaching media and Writing Boot Camp to adults in his community. After partnering with a startup movie site, which was ultimately sold to an Amazon subsidiary, and completing his writing and philosophy studies with the Objectivist Academic Center in 2014, Holleran began writing scripts and blogging about ideas in the arts. Throughout the ACTIVATE program, he conferred with key education, community, and policy leaders about specific policy goals related to the preservation of absolute freedom of speech. Holleran continues to work towards fostering rational cultural discourse through the proper understanding and exercise of the United States Constitution’s cherished First Amendment.


Dr. Donna Marie Hunter

Arts Education
Walnut Valley Unified

Dr. Donna Hunter, an Arts Education Fellow from Walnut, CA, is the Principal of Ron Hockwalt Academies in the Walnut Valley Unified School District, where she prioritizes providing access to art instruction for her students. A survey of incoming students at RHA found that over 90% were engaged in some form of the arts and interested in pursuing them further in elective classes. However, due to limited finding, RHA is the only school in Walnut Valley that does not have district-sponsored teachers and resources. To combat this problem, Dr. Hunter began by inviting East San Gabriel Regional Occupational Program to conduct a music class one period per day. She followed up with petitioning of Walnut Valley USD’s Educational Services, resulting in the creation of two periods per week of media arts classes for students at RHA. Dr. Hunter has been seeking support from Walnut Valley’s superintendent and Mary Hockwalt, the widow of the school’s namesake. She is proud to report that her students have taken up the advocacy effort as well, with one student involved in RHA’s fledgling media arts program creating a video, which was screen at the Student Voices Summit in April 2017.

Link to Project 1


Sunta Izzicupo

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 4

Sunta Izzicupo, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles, is a resident of Council District 4 and a past Cultural Chair for the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council. Izzicupo’s goal is to provide live theater programming for diverse and underserved residents throughout the city. She is working with the LA STAGE Alliance on two initiatives: one to create digital PSAs to introduce residents and tourists to the active, cross-cultural theater scene in Los Angeles; and another to provide theater tickets to underserved populations– in particular, children. When completed, the PSAs will appear in hotels, public transportation, and street portals throughout Los Angeles. The ticket initiative will be paired with classroom follow-ups with actors and directors to inspire personal engagement between students and the performing arts. Izzicupo is committed in the long term to inclusivity and access in the Los Angeles theater world.