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!
Ashleigh Starke is Director of Programs for ARTS, where she strategizes, designs and evaluates arts-based programs for youth facing adversity. Ashleigh has over 10 years of combined experience in photojournalism and youth development, using visual art as non-threatening vehicle to help youth gain agency, and create individual and social change. Prior to joining ARTS, Ashleigh served as the Program Director at The AjA Project, a photography-based non-profit for refugee youth, where she designed a Cultural Literacy Program using photography to engage non-refugee youth in a dialogue about culture and society. Ashleigh also partnered with Harvard School of Public Health to create a participatory photography program for Boston youth with special needs, and curated exhibits of their work at the Massachusetts State House and Harvard School of Public Health. Ashleigh holds a B.J. in Photojournalism and a M.A. in Intercultural Relations with an emphasis in visual media. Ashleigh is a published newspaper photojournalist whose work has included in-depth photo essays chronicling the experience of patients awaiting organ transplants.
KAMLOT WRIGHT - EMPOWER Manager
Kamlot comes to us as a formally trained artist and credentialed teacher with over twelve years of experience in public school education, administration, nonprofit organizations, programming, and curriculum development. She is an alumna of Teach For America (TFA), and has been nationally recognized for her commitment to community and youth through education.
After recognizing the need for the arts and cultural literacy within the school system, Kamlot sought to serve the arts community and its youth through the lens of inclusion. Her personal mission is to expand student awareness through the arts. In order to attain this goal she partnered with various institutions and organizations throughout the San Diego metropolitan area—some of these organizations include, but are not limited to, The Art Miles Mural Project, KPBS’ Not In Our School, Hostelling International-San Diego, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the San Diego Museum of Art.
Kamlot received her B.F.A from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
What are your artistic passions?
My passion for art spans a variety of disciplines. From the visual to preforming arts, I enjoy the process of creating work that engages and heightens the awareness of the viewer.
What do you like most about working at ARTS?
ARTS is mecca for all artists searching for an authentic and quality experience in the arts. The ARTS’ community has an incredibly nurturing culture that facilitates the creativity of emerging artists. I am in love with the idea of contributing to the development and success of youth.
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!
LAURA APARICIO - Therapeutic and Arts Education Program Manager
Laura Aparicio was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico and from a fairly young age she showed an interested in fine arts. Her passion for art only increased desire to explore this field. Drawing and painting became the medium to best express herself. Right after high school she attended California State University San Marcos, majored in Visual and Performing Arts with an emphasis in Arts Track and receiving her Bachelors in 2007. She later received her Master in Education with a concentration in Multicultural Community Counseling and Social Justice in 2014 from San Diego State University. She’s currently pursuing her Master of Counseling –Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). In preparation to become a licensed counselor in order to merge her two passions; art and therapeutic community work.
What are your artistic passions? I’m passionate painting, body art, sculpting, ceramics, re-purposing unwanted items and creating functional art. I enjoy learning about new art making techniques and mediums. I’m also working towards becoming a more active artist, my most resent art exhibit participation was for Matices de las Americas at Centro Cultural de la Raza in 2014.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? I love working in such creative space. ARTS makes me feel like I belong to a community, a community that works together to better serve the students. But most of all, I enjoy working the students and be part of their creative process and growth.
CAITLIN MURPHY - Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Caitlin began scribbling as soon as she could pick up a crayon. Crayons turned into pencils and pencils turned into paintbrushes. Art is her first love, but over time she seamlessly connected her passion for self-expression with her lifelong desire to help others. This led her to study at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy and Studio Art in 2012. During her time in Mobile, Caitlin worked for the Eastern Shore Art Center where she assisted in creating art projects with individuals of all ages from different programs and non-profit organizations in the community. Caitlin continued her studies by earning a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University. While at Loyola she worked as an Art Therapist and MFT intern at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, as well as the K-12 charter school, Kayne Eras Center. Using art as a tool for self-expression, Caitlin’s mission is to provide support for others while exploring the joy of creativity.
What are your artistic passions? My personal artistic passions are working with bright oil paints and large canvases: Depicting people and places that have had an impact on my life. My career artistic passions are to provide the opportunity for others express themselves through art and to support them throughout the process.
What do you like most about working at ARTS? I love working alongside such brilliant and passionate artists and staff at ARTS. They come together to create a wonderful environment that allows endless creative expression and fun!
ROB TOBIN - Lead Community Artist
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.
JONES VON JONESTEIN – Ceramics Department Lead
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.
NADIA NUNEZ – Community Liaison
Nadia was an architect in Mexico before she moved to San Diego, and is currently working on becoming a licensed architect here. Her son, Leonardo, started taking classes at ARTS a year ago and since then Nadia volunteered as a teaching assistant for the urban design class which was held last quarter.
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.
KAREN CHEN - Development & Marketing Coordinator
Our Development & Marketing Coordinator, Karen Chen, moved back to her hometown of San Diego after completing her studies at UC Berkeley as an Integrative Biology Major and Music Minor. While in college, Karen discovered her passion for working with nonprofits in the area of resource and event development, after holding multiple leadership/conference planning positions for the collegiate community service and 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. Karen hopes to continue on the path of public service after her commitment with AmeriCorps and will be pursuing a Master in Public Administration starting Fall of 2015.
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 and keyboard in multiple ensembles. While minoring in music at college, I focused on singing, as well as participating in a couple international music ensembles.
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.
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.