It takes a lot of manpower behind the scenes to accomplish all we do! From number crunchers and strategic planners to program managers and van drivers, we have a dedicated, passionate, fun staff that ensures kids are getting their arts programming everyday. Meet the team:
An artist from a young age, Matt D’Arrigo used the arts to change his own life trajectory away from self destructive behaviors and to pull himself through the illness of his sister and subsequent death of his mother. He was inspired to make it his life’s work to use the arts to transform the lives of children and youth facing their own struggles.
D’Arrigo sits on the American’s For the Arts National Arts Education Advisory Council, the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture’s Grants Committee, The Pomegranate Center’s Advisory Board, and the BOOST Collaborative Advisory Board.
He has been extensively involved with the Fieldstone Foundation’s leadership training program. He graduated from their Executive Leadership course and participates in their Leadership Network Coaching Program which provides mentorship and guidance from a peer nonprofit coach. He is now a leadership coach himself, giving back by coaching up-and-coming nonprofit leaders. He was selected as one of two San Diego nonprofit leaders for a fellowship to the prestigious Harvard Business School’s “Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management”, is a guest teacher/lecturer at UCSD’s course on Public Service, and is also a TEDx speaker.
In addition to leading ARTS, D’Arrigo now speaks, advocates, and advises on the use of the arts as a prevention, intervention, and celebration vehicle for at risk youth, the power and importance of the arts & creativity, starting and leading non-profits, and pursuing one’s passion and purpose in life.
He currently lives in San Diego, CA with his wife Hulya, and children Tessa and Andrew.
What are your artistic passions? Music and Painting
What do you like most about working at ARTS? The people – staff, kids, teachers, volunteers. Its a great team of fun and dedicated individuals!
WENDY ENDSLEY - Director of Development
Wendy Endsley joins ARTS as Director of Development, bringing 15 years’ experience in successful fundraising for nonprofit organizations, including arts and culture, health and human services, and education—all areas that touch upon the breadth of ARTS programs.
Wendy’s experience as a successful grant writer-turned-Development Director grew from two decades as an award-winning journalist, including recognitions from the San Diego Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. She has helped to secure some $17M during her career, including gifts and grants ranging from hundreds of dollars to $7M.
What are your artistic passions? Redefining historical documents, photos, and objects that bring me close to those who cared for me in the past so that I could become who I am today. I hope that I do that now for others. I like to wear my grandmother’s fine old-fashioned clothes about town (often people think they are a new, retro style!); frame and hang postcards that my mother’s family collected on their car trips along the Atlantic Coast in the 1950’s (the blind fish of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, for example), scan and post the elegant letters my great-grandfather wrote to his wife when he was a traveling Methodist minister in the early 1900’s (Dear Meno, I’ve found a house for us to live in this winter; it’s time to start canning the vegetables…), or wear my grandmother’s delicate old watch face as a necklace.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? The people, the talent, the spontaneity of each day, being given the opportunity to demonstrate caring and dedication the best that I can by responding to what ARTS needs to grow and serve more youth and communities.
RUBEN RUIZ - Development & Marketing Coordinator
Ruben is an Orange County, CA native and a graduate of Social Welfare and Global Poverty & Practice from the University of California, Berkeley.
Ruben has an expertise and experience in social media marketing, event planning, public relations, and media relations.
What are your artistic passions? I love photography, graphic design, typography, and music. I love creating cool, modern, innovated designs on Photoshop and InDesign. Music has been something always apart of my life and I love it so much. I have been classically trained to play the piano, violin, and clarinet.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? My favorite thing about working at ARTS is that I get to help make an impact on kid’s lives. I get to do what I love while helping amazing people.
KAREN CHEN - Development & Marketing Coordinator
Our Development & Marketing Coordinator, Karen Chen, moved back to her hometown of San Diego after studying abroad in Sydney and finishing her studies at UC Berkeley as an Integrative Biology Major and Music Minor. While in college, Karen discovered her passion for working with nonprofits and event planning, after planning multiple district-wide events for the collegiate community service & leadership organization, Circle K International, sponsored by Kiwanis International. Because of that, Karen recently completed her Meeting and Event Planning Certificate at San Diego State University. She hopes to use her experience at ARTS to help further her knowledge of nonprofit fundraising.
What are your artistic passions? I have been musically involved since I started playing piano at a very young age. In high school, I played the flute in multiple ensembles and also participated in the jazz band as the key board player. While minoring in music at college, I focused on singing, as well as participating in a couple international music ensembles. My other artistic passions involve photography and nail art.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? My favorite thing is seeing how passionate everyone is about art & working with the kids and seeing the effect that has on the community and the lives of those we serve.
From early childhood, Rob showed a great passion and talent for the visual arts. By the time he was in elementary school, he was already assisting his art instructors with their younger students. Rob went on to study art at Southern Connecticut State University. Rob joined the ARTS team as one of its first volunteers in 2001, and over the years has become involved in many capacities. His shared vision and passion for A Reason To Survive makes him a valuable addition to our staff.
What are your artistic passions? I guess you can call me a upcycler. I find a lot of my materials lying on the side of the road or tossed into an alley. I love the challenge of finding the beauty and worth in the discarded and broken. Blown out tires have been a lot of fun to work with. It’s a kind of alchemy.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? I feel that I bring a deep understanding of how the magic of ARTS works in kids lives. Art and creativity have been saving graces in my life and I strive every day to pass along what I have learned. It is in the quiet moments, working one on one with a student, when I see a light come on in their eyes, that is when I feel most rewarded. The kids at ARTS amaze me every day with their trust, strength, resilience and generosity.
Hulya D’Arrigo was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey by a British mother and Turkish father. She studied Fine arts in Istanbul, Turkey before moving to U.S. where she majored in Psychology with a Minor in Art. She later received her Masters in Social Work in 2000 from San Diego State University. She has worked at San Diego Hospice as their Pediatric Medical Social Worker for seven years. Currently, she works as a per-diem social worker at Scripps Hospice. Hulya has been a Licensed Social Worker for 3 years.
What are your artistic passions? I have many passions in art and have studied painting but I love doing sculpting, knitting, sewing, and many other artsy crafts.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? I love working with very creative mind people and students who inspire me every day!
JONES VON JONESTEIN – Visual Arts Department Head
Jones is a self trained artist born and raised on the east coast, who incorporates photography, mixed media sculpture, performance and printmaking techniques into his artistic practice. He moved to San Diego in 2006 and joined ARTS in 2010 to develop their ceramics program which he has expanded into a thriving component of their visual arts program. Jones exhibits his artwork nationally and has been involved in performances through the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and the Oceanside Museum of Art. Jones has also traveled internationally to create work, most recently as a resident artist at the International Ceramics Studio in Kesckemet, Hungary. He is currently studying Art History at SDSU and greatly enjoys injecting the studio classes he teaches with historical context and references.
What are your artistic passions? Music, photography, printmaking, design, ceramics, storytelling, and mythology
What do you like most about working at ARTS? It’s all about the relationships with our students and staff. Working with a group of talented, artistic, inspiring people who you trust creates a really special environment.
XAIME ACEVES-EQUIHUA – Outreach Coordinator
As a first generation college graduate, Xaime received a B.A. in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He grew up in Southbay San Diego and Tijuana. His experience comes from community activism in under resourced and underserved communities through event planning, leading workshops, and creating art. After college, Xaime began getting involved with local non-profits in the southbay like the Trash Talker’s Coalition and Casa Familiar and eventually found his way to ARTS. He look forward to helping create access and provide resources to youth from all backgrounds.
What are your artistic passions? Painting, Multi Media, Performance and Short film.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? I enjoy being in a creative space where ideas are always being produced, shared and collaborated by everyone.
DAN BURYJ - Director of Operations
Dan Buryj joins ARTS as Director of Operations with more than fourteen years of experience in nonprofit management and organizational development. He has held several operational and financial leadership positions within diverse organizations in the areas of arts and culture, workforce development, youth development, as well as health and human services. Dan has been responsible for managing operating budgets in excess of $5 million, property acquisitions valued at $2 million and multi-year capital projects. Prior to his work in San Diego, Dan graduated from Bentley University in Waltham, MA with an undergraduate degree in Public Policy & Social Change. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Nonprofit Management at Regis University.
KAIT SEWELL - Facility & Operations Coordinator
Kait Sewell started taking art classes in the hope that they would prevent the mural on her mother’s hallway from growing, but what it actually caused was an acceptance of her drive as an artist at an early age. This creative ambition led her to attend the Kansas City Art Institute and then complete her BFA in Sculpture at Wichita State University while serving as President of the WSU Sculpture Guild and Treasurer/PR Officer for the Contemporary Art Society. Kait has spent the last three years in San Diego operating arts nonprofits. Currently, she assists So Say We All and the San Diego Guild of Puppetry in fulfilling their mission while specializing in events for the San Diego Natural History Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art. Kait also volunteers for Rising Arts Leaders, Librivox, and PyroInnovations.