Adetola Abatan is a chemical engineer who recently rediscovered her artistic side as a collage artist. She primarily works with paper and fabric to explore ideas of being, becoming and belonging. Most recently her work was featured in the ‘Dance in Collage’ virtual exhibit for the 2020 Jazz Dance Open in the Czech Republic. She is also a West African and Afro-Brazilian percussionist, and has performed with the University of Pittsburgh West African Dance and Drum ensemble, as well as Batala Houston. In her arts leadership experience, she developed the Tales from the Homeland Children’s animated series and co-lead Houston AfriFEST for three years, providing a platform for African artists, creatives and performers. In the future, she plans to continue telling cultural stories that highlight the past and present beauty of African traditions, particularly in the Arts.
After four years at Oklahoma State University, Samantha decided to completely change her career path to reflect her passion and desire to advocate for the arts. She grew up as a singer, performer, and lover of theatre. While in undergrad, she spent her time outside of academia directing and performing in student-led philanthropic productions for local nonprofit organizations in Oklahoma, including "United Way" and "Hearts for Hearing." Following graduation, she decided to uproot her life and move to Dublin, Ireland to immerse herself in a new culture. While in Dublin, she volunteered for a number of theatre festivals, meeting fellow arts lovers from all around the world while experiencing the ins and outs of festival production. A love for teaching, creating, and inspiring her peers to use performance as a community builder led her to the MFA program at Seattle University. Currently, she works at a nonprofit organization in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a volunteer coordinator and desires to use her experience in the MFA program to work towards establishing arts programming and events in communities lacking the vibrancy of arts in everyday life. Eventually, she plans to receive her certification in Drama Therapy and use her background in performance and psychology to assist individuals with healing and self-expression.
Maddy Berkman is a Seattle based analog photographer and mixed media artist who is passionate about creating work that destigmatizes the silence surrounding mental health issues. Maddy completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Art History at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington, where she had a Solo Exhibition titled Project Happiness, featuring large format double exposures, a video installation and an interactive sharing space. Two images from her black and white series, Held Back, won first place at the Beyond Borders International College Art Competition. Maddy is passionate about exploring vulnerability, unconscious emotion and the strength that can be shared by embracing the transformative power of sadness.
Jackson Cooper is a community centered arts professional and writer. He has served in a variety of capacities across arts mediums since beginning as an intern for North Carolina Theatre at 14. Currently he serves as the Major Gifts Officer for Pacific Northwest Ballet. Previous leadership capacities have included serving as Founder/Lead Consultant for Artful Living Consulting, Coordinator of Performing Arts and Film for the NC Museum of Art, Executive Director of Chamber Music Raleigh, and Assistant to the Artistic Director at PlayMakers Repertory Company. The scope of his writing and research has focused on arts criticism, career development, fundraising, and film studies. Current research interests lie in the intersection of decolonizing fundraising principles and organizational management. Outside of working in the arts, Jackson has served as a guest conductor for the Durham Symphony, Greensboro Opera, and the Durham Savoyards. He's directed theatre productions in North Carolina, New York and Pittsburgh and regularly presents on the history of musicals and musical film. Favorite things include a good movie, a good glass of wine, his two cats, a leisurely walk on a beautiful day, ballet, musical theatre, and the sound of an audience chattering before a performance.
Stefanie Fatooh has dual bachelors degrees from the University of San Francisco, where she earned her BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice, with an emphasis in Dance; and African History. She is a lifelong dancer, and has been a student and performer of dance forms from the SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa)/MENAT (Middle East, North African and Turkey) region for over a decade. This has involved both performing professionally and passionately pursuing educational opportunities to support her work as a guest in a cultural art form. Stefanie is currently on the Executive Board of the Qabila Foundation, an Arabic folk dance company with chapters in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and a fledgling chapter in Seattle, which is under her direction. She is excited to continue her journey in the arts with the MFA in Arts Leadership program and is looking forward to putting her education into practice as an advocate for greater visibility for folk and traditional performing arts forms.
Liz Houlton is a Seattle based dance performer, director, and producer. She has directed the dance for BenDeLaCreme's Beware the Terror at Gaylord Manor (2016-2019), produced an evening length performance alongside Alyssa Casey called home home (2018), and performed with Beth Terwilleger, Daniel Costa, Anna Connor, and ilvs strauss. Liz graduated from California Institute of the Arts in 2015 with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography, and was commissioned by Minnesota Dance Theatre to set her work, Close Quarters in a Large World shortly after. A long time member of Velocity Dance Center's community, Liz recently joined their Board of Directors and is currently a candidate for an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University. Her dog, Maple Syrup, is a cute Black Cur Mouth Great Dane mix and is present in all zoom meetings/classes.
Born and raised in California, Cay Lane, MFA '21 first moved to Seattle in 2006 to obtain their BA in Digital Design from Seattle University. Now through their MFA in Arts Leadership, they hope to develop their research on queer art safe spaces, intersectional pedagogies, and accessibility modeling with the goal to take those ideas into the professional arts community. They thrive on coffee, high word counts, and lots of gardening. Cay is currently working on their interview practicum, meeting and discussing queer art spaces with artists and facilitators up and down the West Coast.
Danielle McClune is a former arts critic with a background in creative writing. She currently leads communications at Microsoft on the web design team. Her experience in the Arts Leadership MFA has led her toward equitable land management and new arts economies, working with the Office of Arts & Culture to advocate for working artists in Seattle and exploring independent research in community land trusts, municipal bonds, and other creative solutions. She hails from Wisconsin, a misunderstood hamlet that informs much of her work.
Alex Mielcarek recently completed a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at the College of Charleston's Honors College. During my bachelor's education, I co-founded and directed Green Haus Art (an artist collective and DIY gallery space in Charleston, SC), developed my Bachelor’s Essay “Crear una frontera queer: Cómo las autoras pioneras de temas queer y Chicana cruzan las expectaciones del género”, and presented my research Documenting LGBTQ Oral Histories in SC’s Lowcountry at the 2019 American Public Health Association National Conference. Outside of the academic and professional setting, I have taken time to learn how to make craft coffee beverages, been a staff photographer for a student-run online publication (The Rival CofC), and continued to draw in my spare time. Some of my artwork has been shown at DIY and student galleries in Charleston, SC.
Tanya Sharp is a creative technology professional. Putting her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Western Washington University to intentional use, her 20+ year career includes graphic/web design, user experience design, commercial art design, and high-profile project management of design teams. She is furthering her learning as a current MFA candidate in Arts Leadership at Seattle University. Tanya leads through a framework of collaboration and centers her work with the mission of communicating stories for audiences to hear through their head and embrace with their heart. This approach has given her access to chair the Edmonds Arts Commission and sit on the board of Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA).
Kati Simek is a visual artist and traveler who is dedicated to stewardship of nature and facilitating access to the arts.
Arielle Simmons is a photographer and international artistic workshop developer, creating from a place of passion and a fostering of collaborative relationships driven by a commitment to equity. She graduated from a public residential arts high school in South Carolina where she received pre-professional training in drama. While she did not pursue a career in theatre, this education encouraged a deep love for an immersive arts environment. She then attended Emerson College, graduating Cum Lauded with a B.S. in Communications Studies. After traveling and working both in Boston and abroad, she returned to higher education at the New England School of Photography, focusing on documentary and fine art. Following graduation, she worked in the studio of renowned fine art photographer Joel Meyerowitz. After one year, she moved to Charleston, SC and committed full time to her photography business, Arielle Simmons Photography. In 2017 she established, conceived of and lead A French Adventure, a photography, painting and drawing retreat in rural France for Americans.
Leah St. Lawrence is an art critic, new media curator, NewHive advocate, and chair enthusiast. St. Lawrence writes about and curates contemporary new media, digital interaction, and online engagement—specifically related to political/social/LGBTQI issues. Most notably she has written arts criticism for The Stranger; working under Charles Mudede. Recently, she was the feature editor for issue 37.1 of ARCADE Dialogue on Design. Leah has also written for Mount Analogue, and The Monday Arts Journal at The Jacob Lawrence Gallery. Last September, she was a guest curator for SOIL Gallery and presented A Digital Nature, a new media experience focused on the intersection of digital identities, personal healing, and nature. A Digital Nature featured work by artists Liz Mputu, Coley Mixan, and Richie Brown. St. Lawrence has given two talks in recent years, one for Arcade Salon focusing on how design affects culture and vice versa and one through the Gage Academy of Art about the rise of Instagram as an alternative to traditional galleries. Currently, St. Lawrence is in Seattle Universities Master of Arts Leadership program where she continues her study of technology and innovation and how technology and identity intersect both creatively and culturally.