College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership

MFA Student Profiles

  • Taylor Apfelbaum (MFA '16)

    Taylor Apfelbaum (MFA ’16)

    After receiving her BFA in Art History from the University of Washington, Taylor worked as an assistant in a local commercial art gallery, and found a passion for working directly with artists. She realized she wanted to work at the grassroots level to empower artists and inspire creativity in the community. The MFA Arts Leadership program seemed like a great way to use her visual arts background to make an impact in artists’ lives. While interning at Pilchuck Glass School she gained exposure to alternative education for artists, and expanded her curating and event planning skills at the “Spring Tours Gallery Show.” She has been drawn to smaller arts organizations through her practicums, and is currently the Outreach & Development Intern at the Center of Contemporary Art. With the support of the network cultivated through her practicums, Taylor plans to combine the administrative and leadership skills gained from her MFA with her yoga teacher training to create programming based on using mindfulness to help artists access and flourish their creativity.

    Shawn Baker (MFA '17)

    Shawn Baker (MFA ’17)

    Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Shawn Baker received her BA in Theatre Arts with an Acting concentration from Western Washington University where she found a love for collaborative art. Following graduation, she founded Mirum Mirum Productions to pursue creation of devised theatre. Mirum Mirum has produced three full-length new works created by the company and mounted a one-act festival showcasing local playwrights, directors, and actors. Through founding a small arts business and working administratively for established local theatre companies, she grew a passion for arts accessibility and sustainability. Through her graduate practicums with the MFA program, Shawn plans to pursue opportunities to empower emerging artists and cultivate new audiences in order to grow a more thriving arts community for the future.

    Katy Hannigan (MFA '17)

    Katy Hannigan (MFA '17)

    Katy Hannigan comes to the Arts Leadership program with a passion for creating administrative systems that empower artists to succeed. A trained theatre artist, Katy realized early in her career that she feels more fulfilled by encouraging other artists to create and promote their work than she ever did as an artist herself. Her passion for advocacy and policy led to her work at MASSCreative, doing community organizing for artists across Massachusetts. In 2013, she moved to Seattle for the Arts Management Internship at Seattle Repertory Theatre, after which she worked at Shunpike as a member of a small team providing administrative support to approximately 180 groups across the independent arts sector in Washington. As of October 2015, Katy now works as the Artist Liaison at Artist Trust, a new position dedicated to providing bespoke support and professional development opportunities to a diverse range of artists across the state.

    Suryanka Kalra (MFA ’16)

    Suryanka Kalra (MFA '16)

    Since entering the MFA Arts Leadership program, Suryanka has had the opportunity to intern at the SEEDArts helping with outreach at their new studios in southeast Seattle. She has successfully planned and executed the first Sunday open studios for SEEDArts. At Suryanka’s current practicum at the Nature Consortium, she hopes to combine her background in business with knowledge gained from her courses to help the organization develop a revenue generation model as an alternative to a grant-funded revenue model. With a background in business and psychology, combined with the knowledge gained from the MFA degree, Suryanka aspires to be an artist coach and help artists reach their career goals.

    Darragh Kennan

    Darragh Kennan (MFA ’16)

    Darragh Kennan is the Artistic Director of New Century Theatre Company and has been an actor, teacher, and director in Seattle since 2000. He is the recipient of the 2012 Actor of the Year Award given by Seattle Magazine, and the 2011 Gregory Falls Award for Outstanding Performance for his portrayal of Hamlet with Seattle Shakespeare Company. Darragh teaches for Freehold Theatre Lab and Billings Middle School. The MFA Arts Leadership program at Seattle University has opened Darragh’s eyes to the nonprofit arts scene. It has taken him from the insular world of the small theatre company he works hard to keep afloat, and introduced him to a larger community all working towards building healthy organizations and learning together. From the guest speakers to the excellent faculty, Darragh finds it to be an important education for any serious arts leader.

    Andrea Lim (MFA '17)

    Andrea Lim (MFA '17)

    Andrea is a classical violinist currently pursuing an MFA in Arts Leadership at Seattle University. In 2014, she founded The Chamber Project, a Sydney-based arts organization with the mission to change the way classical music is presented in today’s society and to support emerging musicians, as well as to include a wider audience. That same year, Andrea was appointed Co-Artistic Director of Chronology Arts, a nonprofit contemporary classical new music company that commissions new Australian works by emerging composers. Andrea is passionate about music education, street and portrait photography, as well as having discussions about privilege, oppression, and race. After completing her degree, Andrea hopes to start an arts organization that produces performances and arranges education workshops for underserved communities.

    Hanako O’Leary

    Hanako O’ Leary (MFA ’16)

    Hanako O’Leary is here to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to make change with art. Always a sculptor, she earned her BFA in ceramics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After moving to Seattle in 2012, she began working with Seattle Mosaic Arts, where she gained experience in community murals. Working as artistic director for the first time, she most recently completed a mosaic mural with Green Lake Elementary. Through this project and other experiences volunteering with non-profits throughout Seattle, Hanako has realized that what she loves most about art is that it has the ability to empower people and inspire them to move forward in their lives. Her knowledge gained from the MFA Arts Leadership program will be used to facilitate more community art projects. Hanako is currently working with 4Culture as their public art intern. She is also working with Seattle Mosaic Arts, using knowledge gained from her marketing class to help them develop a marketing plan.

    Lawrence Pitre (MFA '17)

    Lawrence Pitre (MFA '17)

    Lawrence started the MFA program at Seattle University to accelerate his artistic career and to join the growing arts community. His current goals have allowed him the opportunity to further his artistic talents. Through his endeavors Lawrence is learning additional leadership skills which will aid him in starting the first multicultural artist gallery in Seattle. His intent is to expand the growth opportunities for minorities utilizing a one voice message. The best part of the MFA program is that it allows him the opportunity to utilize skills and training from a variety of professional sources. Lawrence’s current projects encompass core competencies, which will aid him in his summary project, and in creating a multicultural gallery upon graduation.

    Stephanie Reisfeld (MFA '16)

    Stephanie Reisfeld (MFA '16)

    Stephanie aspires to empower youth and teens through the arts, community building, leadership training, and experiential education, and to sustain the creation of art that offers transcendent experiences for audiences and participants. She returned to graduate school to build her network, and to explore best practices supporting engagement and participation in the field. Her most recent practicum positions have been at On the Boards and at TeenTix, where she coordinated the development of new community partnerships. Stephanie graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of Oregon with a BA in Dance and competed nationally as a gymnast. She has had the honor of teaching, choreographing, collaborating, and performing around the world, and most recently performed as an aerialist and acrobat with The Cabiri in Seattle. She eventually hopes to manage education, community engagement, or programming at a dance or theatre organization.

    David Rue (MFA '17)

    David Rue (MFA '17)

    Born in Liberia and raised in Minnesota, David graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies that combined Journalism, English, and Dance. After graduation, he danced for TU Dance, directed by Toni Pierce Sands and Uri Sands, as well as taught Dance Studies for the company. David is a freelance writer, currently serving as an arts and entertainment feature writer for The Line Media, an online publication that celebrates the Twin Cities Arts and Cultural Landscape. Since starting the MFA program at Seattle University, David has started working on fundraising and marketing campaigns for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. He will also spearhead the first position at the Seattle Art Museum designed for emerging leaders to gain an in-depth understanding of SAM's structure and operations while sharing their perspectives and insights. David plans to use his MFA degree to increase access and opportunity for other dance artists, and to contribute to the arts as a scholar, performing artist, and overall arts advocate.