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Emerging Arts Advocates
The Emerging Arts Advocates (EAA) program was created to promote the growth of our membership in the under-40 age range or people new to the field, to educate the next generation of Maryland Arts Advocates, and to provide advocacy training, professional development, and leadership opportunities to young advocates in the arts field across all disciplines and regions of the state. From Executive Directors to Artists to Volunteers, they represent a broad range of the ways in which emerging leaders are involved in the artistic community.
The Emerging Arts Advocates (EAAs) strive to build and sustain the arts sector in the state of Maryland by developing and promoting programs which create growth, development, and vitality for the entire sector. The EAAs role with Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) is to act as an advisory group to help with the development and implementation in MCA programming, as well as state and local advocacy initiatives.
Working with MCA, the EAAs will become leaders in the arts advocacy field for the under 40 arts community through:
- Leadership Development
- Advocacy Training
- Networking Events
To learn more about the Emerging Arts Advocates, please email our staff or call our office at 410-467-6700.
Kerry Holahan, Chair
Kerry Holahan is a singer based in Baltimore who performs with Western Classical and Traditional Chinese choirs and ensembles throughout the Greater DC area. She is a vocal advocate for individual artists and has been active in arts advocacy work at the state and national level since she first enrolled as a masters student at Peabody Conservatory. Kerry joined the Maryland Citizens for the Arts Emerging Arts Advocates Committee in 2013 and has helped facilitate numerous MCA-hosted events such as Maryland Arts Day and Maryland ArtsLAB, is a frequent attendee at Arts Advocacy Day and was invited to join the selection committee for the Sue Hess Arts Advocate of the Year in 2016. In addition to arts advocacy work, she has maintained her cross-cultural work in China, after having lived in Beijing for nine years prior to coming to Baltimore. She regularly performs, tours and conducts performing masterclasses in China, as well as coordinating Sino-US cultural exchange events through the Baltimore-Xiamen Sister City Committee and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Kristen McCurdy, Communications Officer
Maryland Federation of Art
A Washington, D.C. native, Kristen McCurdy moved to Charm City for college and was indeed charmed into making Baltimore her home. While at Towson University, Kristen studied both Communications and English, with a focus in writing. Passionate about the power of connection via communication, Kristen finds purpose in working in a mission-driven environment. She has worked for the American Visionary Art Museum, the Portrait Society of America, and now serves as the Communications Manager for the Maryland Federation of Art. Of course, like any self-respecting millennial, Kristen also has a side-hustle as the co-founder and Sales and Marketing Director for a custom jewelry brand, Arabesque Jewelry. When not working, Kristen enjoys volunteering, spending time with her husband and two dogs, and figuring out how to rule the world via her smartphone (which admittedly does sometimes veer into work territory.)
Jessica Abel is Director of Development for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA), where she oversees a team of eight, tasked with securing financial support for the organization’s comprehensive arts and cultural programming. BOPA serves more than 1 million Baltimore residents and visitors annually through its three major festivals – Light City, Artscape, and the Baltimore Book Festival; civic events including Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor; and city-wide cultural programs, which encompass public art, youth arts education, and grant programs for local artists and communities.
Prior to joining BOPA, Jessica served as the Director of Institutional Giving with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Jessica also previously worked in fundraising in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Jessica believes in the power of arts and culture to positively impact the social and economic outcomes of a community, as well as to enhance the lives of its residents and visitors. In addition to her arts administration and advocacy work, Jessica is proud member of Baltimore’s artistic community where she has performed with a variety of area music groups and venues. She earned her Bachelor of Music from the Florida State University and her Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.
Brittany Andrew is a recent graduate of the Goucher College Masters of Arts in Art Administration program. She is a Salisbury University Alumni, where she graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Bachelors in Fine Art and a minor in Business Administration. She is an Eastern Shore native, born and raised in Cambridge, MD. As an artist and resident she takes inspiration from the vibrancy of the peninsula and its inhabitants. She believes the arts have the power to bring people together. Brittany is currently the Education and Program Coordinator at the Dorchester Center for the Arts, a local community art center and arts agency in Cambridge, MD. She also works at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, MD as their Development Specialist.
Precious Blake is an arts organizer and illustrator living and working in Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. Precious received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration with a concentration in Printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Ms. Blake is the author of Creatives of Color, a collection of illustrated interviews from numerous artists in Baltimore City. She served as the Communications and Development Coordinator at Arts Every Day, a non-profit that supports arts integrated learning in Baltimore City Public Schools, and currently works as the National Partnerships Program Coordinator in the Kennedy Center’s Education Department. She has led numerous educational workshops in career advising, identity-based portraiture, and student engagement through the arts. Ms. Blake has received several awards including: the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Award, Maryland Artists Equity Foundation Scholarship, and Sidney Lake Award. Ms. Blake is dedicated to serving underrepresented artists in Baltimore through community programming, event organizing, and advocating for equitable access to art resources and education. www.preciousblake.com
Teaching Artist in Visual Arts and Crafts Krystiana Bonheur currently works as an arts advocate to provide visual arts programming to youth and adults in transitional housing. Krystiana graduated from the University of Maryland in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Special Education, and from Walden University in 2011 with a Masters of Science in Special Education. Bringing eleven years of experience in education, Krystiana currently works in Prince George’s County with students who have emotional and academic disabilities.
Emily currently works with The Maryland State Department of Education as the Fine Arts Project Manager as well as a theatre teaching artist and director. She is passionate about the arts, and most enjoys working on projects that have an impact on her community, either locally or globally. Her work aims to create opportunities for students and fellow artists. She studied acting at the National Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts in Washington, D.C. and worked as an actor in the D.C. and Baltimore area. During her work as a performer, she began working with Anne Arundel County Public Schools as a teaching artist and musical theatre director. Shortly after, she joined the Performance and Visual Magnet Program of Anne Arundel County as a teaching artist, project manager and study abroad coordinator. Through her work with Anne Arundel County and The Maryland State Department of Education, Emily has had the pleasure of organizing performances, trips abroad, exhibitions, fundraisers, festivals, and many other events, all supporting elevated and equitable arts education. She looks forward to serving along with the other Emerging Arts Advocates and Maryland Citizens for the Arts to help make the arts a top priority in the state of Maryland!
Zoe Fried is a performer, administrator, and arts advocate with an aim to inspire audiences in unconventional ways. A Native of Miami, Florida, she began her musical studies at the age of 12 and has been an active member in the music community both on the stage and behind the scenes ever since. Zoe is currently the Operations Manager with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Previously she has held administrative positions with cultural organizations such as the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and the New York Philharmonic. She is an active member on the Executive Committee of the Society of Peabody Alumni. She also performs with and serves on the Board of Mind on Fire, a musical arts cooperative, collaboratively presenting contemporary music in Baltimore. Zoe graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University with her Masters in Oboe Performance. She additionally holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance as well as a Teaching Certificate from the Peabody Conservatory. During her time at Peabody, she studied under Jane Marvine, English Horn of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Outside of music she enjoys hiking with her dog, yoga, and Cuban food.
Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance
Mary Dell’Erba is the Director of Programs and Administration at the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance where she is responsible for management of AEMS programming and events, including professional development, conferences, fundraisers, recognition events, and presentations on arts education. She also contributes to research, planning, and implementation of state and local advocacy strategies, and facilitates the work of committees on arts education in the state of Maryland. Mary joined AEMS from the Annie E. Casey Foundation where she worked in Talent and Leadership Development. She is a graduate of UMBC where she completed her Master’s in Public Policy in 2015 and her Bachelor of Arts in Arts Advocacy and Dance in 2014.
Baltimore Museum of Art
Alexa Milroy has been the Administrative Manager in the Director’s Office at The Baltimore Museum of Art since September 2016. She previously worked at Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance as the Director of Program and Administration from 2012 to 2016. In her position at AEMS, she was a staff member on the Governor’s P-20 Leadership Council Task Force on Arts Education in Maryland Schools. Previously, Alexa worked on Obama for America’s 2008 field team in Iowa. She also served as an intern at the Maryland State Arts Council. Alexa received a B.A. in Art & Art History and Political Science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She is a past Chair and current member of Emerging Arts Advocates, a subcommittee of Maryland Citizens for the Arts.
Ontavia Roulette grew up pursuing a passion for music performance and opera. She received her B.A. in Music Performance and Opera Theater at Kentucky State University under the guidance of Metropolitan Opera singers and teachers. During her time there, she began creating her own gowns so that her appearance reflected the Operatic selections, embodying passion, pain, and fantasy. Her fashion craft transformed and deepened as she made garments for performances, pageants, runways and recitals.
After school, Ontavia worked for a Fortune 500 company for several years. She was able to travel around the country, but her love for art and fashion were set aside. In 2015, she decided to take the many things she had learned and start her own business in her garage, still working her day job. Her clientele grew in the DMV and New York, leading to her decision to relocate in 2017 to Baltimore, MD. She retired from her job and began designing clothes full time.
In September of 2017, she showed her first Ready-to-wear Collection at New York Fashion Week, taking 19 aspiring DMV models with her. Ontavia started the Roulette Fashion scholarship program for young, aspiring fashion designers, with proceeds from the New York Fashion Week shows. Her garments have been in several fashion magazines, on television, and recently on the 2018 Grammy Red Carpet. She is currently networking with Baltimore artists to plan fashion opportunities, jobs and collaborations in the DMV area.
Raisa Lefé Henry-Rouse
Raisa Lefé has been an EAA since 2010. She holds a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, and is the recipient of the 2016 National Black Storytellers Cowtail Switch Scholarship. She has held positions as an Events Manager for Creative Alliance, Education Week, and the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center, and was a writer for Maryland Theatre Guide. Her interests include cultural sustainability, African American folklore, and arts-based community programs for underprivileged youth. She is the proud wife of a Baltimore City teacher and mom to (soon to be) 5 children. Raisa Lefé plans to pursue her MA in Arts Administration, Fall 2018.
Sarah Snyder has been an arts advocate for over 10 years as an arts administrator, storyteller, and performer. As the Communications Manager at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, she works closely with the media, including many of the nation’s leading arts critics and writers, to spread the word about the importance of the arts. She is also tasked with developing new and creative ways to utilize photography and video to tell The Clarice’s story. Sarah graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English from Washington College in Chestertown, MD. She also holds a master’s degree in English Literature with a specialization in 19th century British literature. She has studied drama, dance, and vocal performance and has performed in various venues throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania. Sarah is passionate about health and fitness and teaches Zumba and Pure Barre. She loves to support the arts in Maryland and the DC region by attending numerous performances, shows, and arts events each month.