National Partnership

The National Guild for Community Arts Education, Massachusetts Cultural Council, The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and Americans for the Arts together have formed the Creative Youth Development National Partnership. These four organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their joint commitment to advancing creative youth development (CYD) as a field of practice nationwide.

Creative youth development is a recently coined term that organizes a longstanding community of practice that intentionally integrates the arts, sciences, and humanities with youth development principles, sparking young people’s creativity and building critical learning and life skills that carry into adulthood.

This new coalition is collaborating to organize and accelerate the CYD movement through a collective impact strategy with a common agenda, shared systems and activities, cross-sector engagement, and continuous communications. The Partnership aims to strengthen community-based organizations working in youth development and the arts, sciences, and humanities; develop and support adult practitioners in the field; and benefit youth by increasing access to CYD opportunities throughout the United States.

In 2014, representatives of the creative youth development field came together at the first National Summit for Creative Youth Development to form its first-ever national agenda. The Creative Youth Development National Partnership has embraced a collective impact strategy to implement this agenda.

Creative Youth Development National Advisory Committee
Additional Advisors



Logo_Print_ColorThe National Guild for Community Arts Education supports and advances access to lifelong learning opportunities in the arts. Among its national initiatives is Engaging Adolescents, which aims to increase youth participation in the arts by enhancing the effectiveness and scope of existing, high quality out-of-school time arts education programs and catalyzing the development of new programs. The Guild serves a broad constituency of more than 5,000 nonprofit, arts organizations, and government agencies in the United States that are providing open access to classes, lessons and workshops in multiple artistic disciplines. Many also are providing learning/development through the arts with a focus on youth development, community building, positive aging, and other areas. Of these providers, more than 450 are Guild members. They include community schools of the arts; arts centers; and arts education divisions of performing arts institutions, universities, museums, and other organizations. In concert with this dynamic network, the Guild researches and promotes best practices, provides opportunities for professional development and dialogue, advocates for broad access, and makes grants to the field. Collectively, Guild member institutions offer direct instruction to more than 2.5 million students each year, employ 20,000 teaching artists, and reach an additional eight million Americans each year through performances and exhibitions. In addition to providing classes and lessons within their own facilities, most members also collaborate with public schools, social service organizations, hospitals, and other agencies to increase communities’ access to arts education.

mcclogoThe Massachusetts Cultural Council promotes excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. MCC is a state agency committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities and pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, communities and artists.

Over the past 20 years, MCC has invested more than $10 million in creative youth development resulting in a vibrant community of programs. Massachusetts has had more than 40 Winners and Finalists of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards (formally Coming Up Taller) since 1998 and it’s flagship program in creative youth development, YouthReach, has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and replicated in states across the country. On December 1, 2014 the MCC launched its newest creative youth development initiative, SerHacer, which is the first public support system for El Sistema-inspired work in the United States. Together with more than 400 cultural organizations and hundreds of teaching artists, the MCC is working to deepen the creative potential of young people in every corner of the Commonwealth.

PCAHCreated in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the Administration and the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Historically, the First Lady serves as honorary chairman of the committee, which is composed of both private and public members.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the Nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. It is a signature initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to showcase cultural excellence and enhance the availability of out-of-school arts and humanities programs to children and young people.

Logo_AmericansForTheArts_COLOR_HighResolution_ForPrintMediaAmericans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With more than 50 years of service, it is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Americans for the Arts’ mission is to serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Connecting your best ideas and leaders from the arts, communities, and business, together we can work to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts.

Creative Youth Development National Advisory Committee

Nicole Amri, Program Director, SAY Sí, San Antonio, TX
Nicole AmriNicole Amri is a 2006 alumna of SAY Sí (a national-award-winning creative youth development program in San Antonio, TX) and a 2012 graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BFA in Painting and a BA in Communication: Public Relations. She is also a certified nonprofit professional through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Driven by learning and creating, Nicole’s great passions are education and the arts. Her artwork predominantly explores human rights issues with a focus on interpersonal relationships and societal conditions. In addition to her position as Program Director for SAY Sí, Nicole currently serves on local and national committees such as city-wide collective impact initiatives: SA2020 and Excel Beyond the Bell SA and national groups: the ALAANA Network and National Advisory Committee to the Creative Youth Development National Partnership. When she’s not working or creating, Nicole loves to dance, cook and listen to music (often at the same time).

Jennifer Cole, Executive Director, Metro Arts, Nashville, TN
Jennifer ColeJen leads the city’s efforts in art, culture and creative economy, a position she has held since 2010. She has over 20 years of experience in organizational leadership and change management and has worked extensively in the public and non-profit sectors in a variety of executive positions.

She has a degree in English from the University of Mary Washington and serves on many local boards and national arts efforts including The National Arts Executive Leadership Forum and the Executive Board of the U.S. Urban Arts Federation. She is a frequent national speaker about the role of arts in community transformation.


Sarah Cunningham, Executive Director of Research, School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Sarah CunninghamDr. Cunningham currently serves as Executive Director for Research at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and Founding Director of the Arts Research Institute at VCUarts.  Through projects within VCUarts, VCU and the national arts community, Dr. Cunningham works to translate the value of arts understanding to the development of new knowledge. At VCU, Cunningham works across the university on numerous arts/health collaborations, and directs the Lullaby Project, a partnership with Carnegie Hall. Nationally, Dr. Cunningham serves as the Senior Strategy Advisor to the Alliance for Arts at Research Universities, based at the University of Michigan. She also serves on the boards of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

From 2005-2011, Cunningham held the post of Director of Arts Education for the National Endowment for the Arts, founding the NEA Education Leaders Institute (ELI) to develop arts education policy and strategy in 29 states.  She launched the first national study of arts assessment, Improving the Assessment of Student Learning in the Arts, and provided leadership for NEA’s Poetry Out Loud, Shakespeare in American Communities, and Jazz in the Schools. Cunningham received a PhD and MA in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and her BA from Kenyon College.

Deb Habib, Executive Director, Seeds of Solidarity, Orange, MA
Deb HabibDeborah Leta Habib, Ed.D, is co-founder and Executive Director of Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, a non-profit organization in Orange, MA that ‘Awakens the power among youth, schools and families to Grow Food Everywhere to transform hunger to health, and create resilient lives and communities.’

Deb holds a Doctorate in cultural diversity and curriculum reform from the University of Massachusetts (1996), and a Masters of Science Teaching from Antioch New England (1989). The flagship program of Seeds of Solidarity is SOL (Seeds of Leadership) Garden for low-income youth, an out-of-school program that embodies the principles of creative youth development through food growing and food justice, community building, and the arts.  Artistically and personally, Deb enjoys writing, working with clay, photography, cooking, dance and yoga. She is married to Ricky Baruc, a farmer, artist, and co-founder of Seeds of Solidarity, and has one awesome son, Levi. Deb is also a founder of the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, organized by neighbors to ignite cultural and economic power in their rural community, plus serves on several non-profit boards and task forces.

Alex Johnson, Managing Director for Californians for Safety and Justice, Oakland, CA
Alex M. JohnsonAlex Johnson is the Managing Director for Californians for Safety and Justice. Previously, he served as Executive Director for the Children’s Defense Fund-California, the state office for the Children’s Defense Fund; a national organization founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edelman. As Executive Director, Alex led the organization’s statewide advocacy, policy, program and organizing efforts to ensure access to quality affordable health coverage and care for children and low income families, reforming the juvenile justice system, promoting educational equity, and ending child poverty.

Prior to assuming that position, Alex served as Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Prior to returning to Los Angeles County where he was born and raised, Alex worked with school instructional leaders in the New York City Department of Education where he provided counsel to school leaders and departmental executives as well as managed complex civil litigation, policy matters and special disciplinary proceedings as part of a teacher quality initiative. He taught high school students as a Fellow with the Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project and has served as an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College.

Alex is a graduate of Morehouse College and earned his Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law.

Cristy Johnston Limon, Executive Director, Destiny Arts Center, Oakland, CA
Cristy Johnston LimonCristy Johnston Limon is Executive Director at Destiny Arts Center, a creative youth development organization leveraging the arts as a catalyst for social change. Cristy recently completed the 1.7M acquisition and revitalization of an idle industrial warehouse into a modern, 8,000 square foot arts and cultural facility, stabilizing the nonprofit by securing a permanent home, creating dozens of jobs, and as incubator for emerging and established artists.

Cristy’ s background includes public policy, economic and community development, strategic planning, nonprofit startups, and small business development. She is an MBA candidate at the Berkeley-Haas School of Business with a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley. Mrs. Limon presents on the “nonprofit advantage” working at the intersection of business and philanthropy; creating arts spaces as part of community and economic development efforts; and how the arts in partnership with cities and the local business community rebuild and transform neighborhoods citing examples from her work in Oakland and in San Francisco with the “Invest in Neighborhoods” initiative where her nonprofit startup EAG emerged.

Erik Peterson, Vice President, Policy, Afterschool Alliance, Washington, D.C.
Erik PetersonErik joined the Afterschool Alliance in July 2009 and coordinates and advances the Afterschool Alliance’s policy efforts at the federal level by helping develop policy goals and implementing strategies that advance access to quality afterschool programs for all. Erik works to build and strengthen relationships with policy makers and allied organizations to increase public support and funding for quality before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. Prior to coming to the Afterschool Alliance, Erik worked for the School Nutrition Association (SNA) in the Washington DC, area and as both an AmeriCorps VISTA and staff for the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas. He received his Master’s in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and also has a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Kwame Scruggs, Director of Programs and Training, Alchemy Inc., Akron, OH
Kwame ScruggsKwame Scruggs has over 20 years of experience using myth in the development of urban male youth. He holds a Ph.D. and MA in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Kwame also holds a MS degree in Technical Education with an emphasis in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Akron.

He has conducted numerous workshops on the use of mythological stories to engage urban youth, presenting at C.G. Jung sites of New York, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. In 1993, after being formally initiated into the Akan System of Life Cycle Development (African-based rites of passage), Kwame became a Certified Facilitator of this process.

Kwame is the founder and program/training director of Alchemy, a non-profit organization in Akron, Ohio.  Since Alchemy’s establishment in 2003, the organization has served nearly 2,000 urban adolescents from Akron and surrounding communities. In 2012, Alchemy received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, presented by Michelle Obama – the nation’s highest honor for youth serving programs. The incredible impact of Alchemy’s programs was highlighted in the national documentary Finding the Gold Within.

Lauren Stevenson, Director of Youth Initiatives, Head of Project 1324, Adobe Social Impact, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Lauren StevensonLauren Stevenson, Ph.D, is Director of Youth Initiatives at Adobe where she heads up Project 1324, a global initiative supporting emerging artists who use creativity as a force for social impact. Lauren has over 15 years’ experience as a leader and researcher in arts education and youth development. As principal at Junction Box Consulting, she conducted studies on arts education in school, community, and museum settings, and led the development of ArtsEdSearch, a national clearinghouse for arts education research and policy. She also spearheaded the California Alliance for Arts Education’s initiative to increase equity of access to arts education for students in Title I schools, and wrote the framework for the first national Summit on Creative Youth Development for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Prior to Junction Box, Lauren was the senior associate for research at the Arts Education Partnership where she directed a national research study examining the role of arts education in transforming K-12 schools.

Lauren holds a Doctorate in Education Policy and Master’s in Sociology from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s in History-Sociology from Columbia University. She is the co-author of two books on the arts and educational and community change.

Matt Wilson, Executive Director, MASSCreative, Boston, MA
Matt WilsonHired as MASSCreative’s first Executive Director in March of 2012, Matt directs the advocacy campaigns and organizational development for the organization. For 30 years, he has run campaigns and organized volunteers and communities for the public interest on a local, state, national level.

In 2011, Wilson directed environmentalist and social entrepreneur Bob Massie’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Previously he coordinated Health Care for All’s campaign to monitor the takeover of the nonprofit Caritas Hospitals by a for profit private equity firm.

As the National Director of the field staff for from 2005-2006, Matt helped develop and implement the strategy behind’s successful 2006 Call for Change, which recruited and trained more than 100,000 volunteers in 60 swing Congressional and Senate districts.

As the Founder and Director of Toxics Action Center from 1989 to 2005, Wilson assisted more than 300 neighborhood groups address toxic pollution issues in their communities. He grew the organization from one staffer working in Massachusetts to a New England-wide organization with 11 staff.

Wilson graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983 and also earned a Masters of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2008.

Jason Yoon, Executive Director, Atlas DIY, Brooklyn, NY
Jason YoonJason Yoon is the Director of Education at the Queens Museum (QM) in New York City where he oversees the museum’s visual arts education programs both at the museum and in community settings around the borough of Queens. Prior to joining QM, Jason served for five years as the executive director of New Urban Arts, a nationally recognized non-profit art studio and gallery for high school students and emerging artists in Providence RI. He was a teaching artist and museum educator at the Brooklyn Museum; founded and directed his own youth arts mentoring program 7ARTS which was featured on NY1 News; and worked as a grant writer and Development Associate for the DreamYard project. Jason is a proud graduate of Cooper Union’s free visual arts high school outreach programs, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with a concentration in art history from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Additional Advisors

National Guild for Community Arts Education Creative Youth Development Steering Committee

Cynthia Campoy Brophy, Founder & Executive Director, artworxLA, Los Angeles, CA
Jon Hinojosa, Artistic & Executive Director, SAY Si, San Antonio, TX
Karen LaShelle, Executive Director, Creative Action, Austin, TX
Rick Sperling, President & Artistic Director, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Detroit, MI
Tim Lord, Co-Executive Director, DreamYard Project, Bronx, NY
Matt D’Arrigo, Founder & CEO, A Reason to Survive (ARTS), National City, CA
Kathe Swaback, Program Director, Raw Art Works, Lynn, MA
Lara Davis, Arts Education Manager, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Seattle, WA
Karin Orenstein, Wynnefield Branch Director, Settlement Music School, Philadelphia, PA

Massachusetts Cultural Council Creative Youth Development Advisory Committee

Kathe Swaback, Program Director, Raw Art Works, Lynn, MA
Madeleine Styczynski, Executive Director, Zumix, East Boston, MA
Eryn Johnson, Executive Director, Community Art Center, Cambridge, MA
Marquis Victor, Founder and Executive Director, Elevated Thought, Lawrence, MA
Priscilla Kane Hellwig, Executive Director, Enchanted Circle Theater, Holyoke, MA
Evelyn Francis, Director of Programs, The Theater Offensive, Boston MA
Dr. Lisa Donovan, Associate Professor, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA
Deb Habib, Executive Director, Seeds of Solidarity, Orange, MA
Zakiya Thomas, Harvard University, Cambridge MA

National Advisory Committee for the 2014 Summit on Creative Youth Development

Russell Baker, NDI New Mexico (Santa Fe & Albuquerque, NM)
Krystal Banfield, Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
Kelly Barsdate, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
Terry Blackhawk, InsideOut Literary Arts Project (Detroit, MI)
Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University
Cynthia Campoy Brophy, artworxLA (Los Angeles, CA)
Wilsonia Cherry, National Endowment for the Humanities
Ken Cole, National Guild for Community Arts Education
Tom DeCaigny, San Francisco Arts Commission
Kristen Engebretsen, Americans for the Arts
Robert Halpern, Erikson Institute (Chicago, IL)
Jonathan Herman, National Guild for Community Arts Education
Jon Hinojosa, SAY Si (San Antonio, TX)
Gwynn Hughes, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Melissa Hung, WritersCorps (San Francisco, CA)
Heather Ikemire, National Guild for Community Arts Education
Jean Tokuda Irwin, Utah Division of Arts & Museums
Sandra Jackson-Dumant, Seattle Art Museum
James Kass, Youth Speaks (San Francisco, CA)
Lark Keeler, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (FL)
Reed Larson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Terence Liu, National Endowment for the Arts
Katie Magrane, Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership
Maura Marx, Institute for Museum and Library Services
Jacqueline Melega, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe, NM)
Joan Mikula, Mass. Dept. of Mental Health
Francisco Nunez, Young People’s Chorus (New York, NY)
Sebastian Ruth, Community Music Works (Providence, RI)
Vanessa Sanchez, Natl. Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL)
Sheila Sears, Colorado Creative Industries
Traci Slater-Rigaud, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
H. Mark Smith, Mass. Cultural Council
Rick Sperling, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit
Ed Spitzberg, Afterschool Alliance
Kathe Swaback, Raw Art Works (Lynn, MA)
Paul Teruel, CCAP, Columbia College (Chicago, IL)
Anne Teschner, The Care Center (Holyoke, MA)
Kasandra VerBrugghen, Spy Hop Productions (Salt Lake City, UT)
Robyne Walker Murphy, DreamYard Project (Bronx, NY)

MCC Advisory Committee for the 2014 Summit on Creative Youth Development

Juliana Davis, Berklee City Music alum
Masiel Encarnación, RAW alum
Deb Habib, Seeds of Solidarity
Swanee Hunt, Hunt Alternatives Fund
Kit Jenkins, RAW
Kaamila Mohamed, Theater Offensive alum
Peter Nessen, Nessen Associates
Susan Rodgerson, Artists for Humanity
Abe Rybeck, Theater Offensive
Betsy Sanchez, RAW alum
Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Animating Democracy & MCC Board
Sam Slater, MCC Board (Steering Committee chair)
Jason Talbot, Artists for Humanity
Erin Williams, City of Worcester
San San Wong, Barr Foundation
Lisa Wong, MD, Longwood Symphony Orchestra & MCC Board
Amy Zahlaway, Artists for Humanity alum