Maryland Arts Summit Keynote Speakers

Busy Graham/Denise M. Jones

Busy Graham, Founder-Director, Carpe Diem Arts

I have loved the arts for as long as I can remember and have been fortunate to find ways to make them an integral part of my life. My great grandfather gave me piano lessons at an early age. As a teen, I had my first experience living abroad when my Dad was the Peace Corps country director in Tunisia. My Mom worked in US-Soviet relations at a critical time for peacebuilding through cultural exchanges and introduced our family to the remarkable LPC international camps where I acquired a treasure trove of international songs and dances. My Aunt Sue, married to Charles Mingus, introduced me to the world of Jazz.

I taught music, dance and French in Vermont and North Carolina before embarking on a career in arts administration. For ten years I had the pleasure of representing folk, jazz and world music artists in the national market, and produced concerts and special events in the Baltimore/DC area. In 1995, I founded Class Acts Arts (now Artivate), bringing international folk and traditional arts into DC area schools and under-resourced communities. In 2006, I launched Carpe Diem Arts, presenting multi-generational and multicultural community events and outreach programs in the national capital region and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Through creative partnerships with low-income housing communities, social service agencies, schools, community centers and other nonprofits, Carpe Diem has expanded its reach and deepened its impact while also supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of visual, literary and performing artists representing diverse cultures and traditions.

Denise M. Jones, Director of Community Engagement for Carpe Diem Arts, is a cultural teaching artist, youth development practitioner, certified teen life coach, and instructional designer and facilitator of programs for youth, teens, adults, and parents. Her work with Carpe Diem Arts is to further the reach of art enrichment in the lives of housing community residents of all ages, cultures, and incomes. As an active community engagement professional, Denise has been an ardent supporter for student well-being, equitable access and achievement, as well as parent advocacy, especially in support of BIPOC students and parents of color encouraging family support for the K12 school journey and beyond. Her support for youth and families is rooted in an arts-forward practice and her collaborative arts administration is grounded in opportunity for those too often consigned to marginalized lives. Jones firmly believes that the arts heal, serve as a bridge for disparate communities, and that creative solutions and self-identity are lifted through shared artistic endeavors. Formerly serving on the Montgomery County Public Schools Minority Achievement Advisory Council and the NAACP Parents’ Council, Jones is a member of the Montgomery County Youth Development Community of Practice, Maryland Out of School Time Network, Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic, Partners for Youth Empowerment, and the Takoma Park Providers Network. As President of Brass Ring Company, Jones serves youth, teens, adults and parents to increase personal agency in their reach for better community and life engagement, through capacity-building arts-based programs.

Dance Exchange

Judith Bauer
After a lifetime of watching dance, Judith Bauer is happy to be participating in making dance happen. Judith began dancing fifteen years ago at age 70 as a way of dealing with health issues. While she has studied other forms, she is mainly interested in improvisational dance for its ability to keep one mentally sharp and focused on responding to others. She is enjoying the challenge of facilitating classes within virtual spaces. In addition to being part of the supportive community that is Dance Exchange, Judith is a member of Quicksilver, the senior dance company of Arts for the Aging. Quicksilver dancers—all over the age of 60— use improvisational forms to engage with frail seniors in day programs and residential facilities.
Elizabeth Johnson
Elizabeth Johnson Levine (EJ, she/her/hers) is a choreographer, dancer, and educator with a focus in socially engaged dance practices. Johnson connects communities through choreography, creating dance that promotes civic dialogue, and designing participatory experiences that apply artistic practices in multiple contexts. She has a particular interest in working with youth and elders, developing embodied structures for science learning, and promoting leadership development through the arts.

Johnson holds a B.A. in Dance with a minor in Theater from Connecticut College and a M.F.A. from Arizona State University. She has studied at London Contemporary Dance School, taught and performed internationally, and was the Associate Artistic Director of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Metro D.C. for over a decade. For five years she was at Arizona State University as the Coordinator of Socially Engaged Practice, working with an interdisciplinary team to create new curricula focused on training artists to work in, and engage with, diverse communities. She then spent two years immersed in arts integration while living in Chicago, working with Hubbard Street Dance’s Community Programs and with the Arts Integration Mentorship project at Columbia College Chicago. Elizabeth recently worked with Liz Lerman at Arizona State University as the Co-Director (with Nik Zaleski) of CounterAct a multiyear campus wide Arts Based Initiative for Sexual Violence prevention.

EJ has been connected to Dance Exchange (full or part time) since 1998 and is currently Associate Artistic Director and Director of Partnerships.

Dana Parson

Dana is a highly experienced performer, director, and arts educator. Her career in the arts began as a member of the Resident Acting Company for Clear Space Theatre in 2004. For the past 13 years, she has taught and/or established performing arts classes and programs to students and adults of all ages and levels, specializing in honesty, connectivity, and excellence of craft. She has performed in and/or directed over 100 performance pieces (theatre, vocal, movement) on the east coast as well as abroad, including Puerto Rico, Italy, and England. Dana also teaches professional development as a Roster Teaching Artist for the Maryland State Department of Education’s Fine Arts Office.

Single Carrot Theatre, Emily Corey

Emily is thrilled to begin working with Single Carrot Theatre as their Executive Director! For the last five years, she has worked with the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of Fine Arts in the role of Project Manager. There she helped create and execute programs, professional development, resources, and events that furthered MSDE’s and her own mission for elevated, equitable, and accessible arts education. While with MSDE, Emily has worked as a theatre teaching artist and theatre director for multiple Maryland schools and theatre companies, continuing to foster her passion for the theatre and its transformative powers.

Prior to moving to Baltimore in 2015, Emily worked with Anne Arundel County Public School’s PVA program as a project manager, teaching artist, and study abroad coordinator. She has continued the latter two into 2020!

While working in education, Emily has served several arts committees who share her dedication to the arts, including the Emerging Arts Advocates, BWI Static Arts Committee, and The Maryland Theatre for Performing Arts. Additionally, she has devoted her time and energy to supporting the Maryland and DC theatre communities as a performer, director, teacher, and patron for almost two decades!

She is inspired by the work and mission of Single Carrot Theatre and can’t wait to continue the revolution!

“After 5 years with the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of Fine Arts, I am thrilled to be moving back to my theatre roots with Single Carrot Theatre! I have a passion for the theatre and for Baltimore City, and I couldn’t be more honored to serve those communities in this new role. I am inspired by the work and mission of Single Carrot Theatre and can’t wait to continue the revolution!”