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Program in Arts Administration
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Program in Arts Administration

In the Department of Arts & Humanities

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Current Students > Student Mentors

Student Mentors

ARAD Student mentors serve as a student group, to help incoming and current students build a sense of community while making valuable contacts for a future in the arts administration profession. As part of this mission, the student mentors work to make new students feel as comfortable and confident as possible from the moment they arrive.

Lina Alfonso

Lina is interested in visual arts, in particular contemporary art. She has an educational background in visual arts, which led to an interest in art organizations with innovative programming targeted at supporting young and emerging artists. Currently, she is interning at the non-profit Art in General in Development and the Executive Office. Lina is originally from Colombia.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

I was attracted to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College because it has one of the strongest academic programs in the field. It is within a prominent university and offers a high quality education as well as access to other programs in Columbia's network.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

My studies are giving me the foundation to understand what work in the arts administration field entails. The classes I have taken so far have helped me to see the different areas of practice for an arts administrator, and these have helped me to project what I want to do and be as a professional.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

Being part of the ARAD community allows me to be in touch with a diverse student community. Not only are we a very internationally diverse cohort, but our experiences and backgrounds are very different. The knowledge I have been absorbing this past year is partially from the excellent and accomplished people with whom I have been studying.

Donald Borror

Donald is interested in executive leadership positions in dance companies and multi-disciplinary performing arts organizations. He graduated from Juilliard with a BFA in Dance and performed with NYC-based Ballet Hispanico for three seasons. Currently, Donald is a choreographer and producer for Lincoln Center Education’s Meet the Artists series, Board Chair of non-profit dance advocacy org BEMOVING, and interning at arts management consulting firm, Dunch Arts.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? The community. I was excited to be a part of a cohort that is as invested in what their work as I am. When I was looking at the program, I asked one of the current students what she thought that the energy of the program was like, if people seemed like they were super dedicated. She confidently replied that everyone in her program was genuinely interested in changing the world, and I was immediately sold.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? There are so many layers to producing artistic content. At each level in the process of making art happen there is an entire world of knowledge. From development to programming to marketing, each element has so much depth. Being able to study these facets in greater detail, decide which interests me enough to take a deeper dive, and then apply that knowledge to my professional career is simply invaluable. It’s like being at a buffet, tasting everything, deciding what you want seconds of, then going home and making those dishes.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community. There is always a lot going on and you really are responsible for being as involved as you want to be. It is a very supportive group. We laugh a lot. When you are in such a specific field at such an immersed level, there become fewer and fewer people that you can truly have a qualitative conversation about your work. We understand each other. Developing a connection through shared professional goals and understanding how to express your ideas is an especially helpful experience for when you eventually meet industry experts that have an even more developed view of your field. All of a sudden you're the one that has to catch up. But one day, our cohort will be those experts for other new entrants to the field, and we will have the strong network of like-minded people that we cultivated at Columbia.

Hannah Fenlon

Hannah graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in Drama. Before entering the Arts Administration program, she worked as a freelance producer and casting director in Chicago (founded Two Birds Casting, a casting facilitation service for theatre and commercial productions) as well as an Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago. Hannah has worked with Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, A Red Orchid Theatre and, most recently, Theatre Communications Group, with whom she planned the 2014 National Theatre Conference in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. She is interested in creative producing for the performing arts, as well as arts entrepreneurship and community engagement in theatre.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

I've been a theatre person for a very, very long time. I recognized, however, that the ARAD program would allow me the opportunity to both enhance the theatre administration skills I had been developing (in my college program and subsequent variety of positions within the Chicago theatre community) and broaden them to include a very wide-angled perspective of the entire arts world. A healthy administrative and artistic response to the collective arts field requires administrators to be well-versed in trends and best practices across the board, not just within their chosen discipline. I was eager to jump start such a worldview, and see what it could do for my career.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

My work in the program thus far has advanced my career goals both practically and personally. Practically, I'm improving my general knowledge of the non-profit sector and the various essential engines that drive it. Personally, I'm much closer to determining my individual mission as an arts administrator. In fact, I think that has been my biggest takeaway from my first year. The program has been expansive enough and thoughtful enough to help me find my way towards determining my ideal part of an administrative whole.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

In a word: Curious. My classmates are eager to share their experiences and hear those of others. We are close not only academically, but socially and professionally as well. Being a part of this cohort certainly eased my transition to New York last fall, and continues to be something I look forward to each class.

Veronica Fischmann

Veronica earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University in English and Italian literature with a concentration in creative writing. While the written word is incredibly important to her, she also discovered concert production in college and has been interested in the intersection between community and the arts ever since. Veronica's ultimate goal is to head a multidisciplinary performing arts center. She has previous experience in development at a large, New York-based non-profit. She has also worked in multiple capacities at different festivals including Central Park SummerStage and the Belleayre Music Festival. Veronica is currently interning in the Department of Public Programming at Lincoln Center, where she is working on Midsummer Night Swing and Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

Of the arts administration degrees I considered, the program at Teachers College was the most academically rigorous. I like that there is a thesis requirement, giving us the framework to delve into a specific area of interest in the field. I also think it is important that the program integrates the performing and visual arts, as it has been my observation that the arts are trending toward a more interdisciplinary model. I am primarily interested in the performing arts, but have been able to gain insight into other areas by interacting with an academically diverse cohort.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

While practical experience is important in the field (which is why the internship requirement is so critical), I enrolled in this degree to gain an understanding of theory and best practices in arts administration. This foundation will help me impact the direction of the field in a positive way. I also wanted to strengthen my grasp on some of the more solidly "practical" skills, such as the principles of accounting.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

Student life as a member of the ARAD community is busy, but busy is not a bad thing. I have been living in New York City since completing my undergraduate degree, and thought that I had a pretty good understanding of the arts-related things that are happening here. By being a member of a cohort of similar-minded people, I not only have a group of contemporaries with whom I can discuss the latest arts news, but I also have a network of people who constantly share different things to see and do in this city.

Xiaobei Jia

Xiaobei is originally from Beijing, China. She is interested in visual art, particularly programming and development in art museums, and is also fascinated by art and finance. Currently Xiaobei is interning at Artnet, and is a volunteer at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

The ARAD program's interdisciplinary approach, combining arts, education, business and law, gives me confidence as an emerging professional arts administrator. Apart from the well-rounded required courses, the flexibility to build up a unique course track allows me to explore my areas of interest further. Drawing from the resources of Teachers College, Columbia University, and New York City, the ARAD program has much more to offer than its curriculum.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

The program guides me to understand, to think, and to question the management of arts organizations. During class time, we discuss issues ranging from the essence of art to what is currently happening in the art world. The international background of the student body contributes to a diverse perspective in our studies. We also have guest speakers from various organizations, who talk about their professional experience and share best practices with us.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

The academic life of the program gives me a theoretical foundation in arts administration, and the internship provides me opportunities to put theory into practice. With strong a alumni network, the efforts of the internship coordinator, and the reputation of the program, ARADers can fully exercise their professional interests. Last but not the least, ARAD is a warm family with talented cohorts, and supportive professors and administrative staff.

Nana Yu I Lee

Prior to joining the Arts Administration program, Nana Lee was an Account Executive with Compass Public Relations - an affiliate of Burson-Marsteller. Her experiences in corporate communications and public relations have developed into a wider interest in cross-sector collaboration in the visual arts – dedicated to education, programming, and engagement in art museums and other cultural institutions. Currently, she is exploring social entrepreneurship and social empowerment at Groundswell’s flagship Summer Institute Leadership-program (SLI) as communications intern.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

The Program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University distinguishes itself by combining dynamic interdisciplinary approaches to the academic study of this field, providing a novel, birds-eye perspective on the international art world.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

By applying an integrated focus on both performing and visual arts, the program corresponds to contemporary developments across several creative artistic sectors. Through my studies, I have gained an analytical and deeper understanding of the US non-profit art ecology.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

Student life in the ARAD program provides access to some sizable advantages, namely: engaging with a talented and academically resourceful cohort, which, while being professionally like-minded, are diverse in interests.

Katherine O'Connor

Katherine is interested in the visual arts with a focus on museum education and audience engagement strategies. Previously, she worked in the education department at the J. Paul Getty Museum where she managed programs for family audiences. She recently held an internship at the Whitney Museum of American Art, working on public programs for adult audiences.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

I was attracted to the program because I was impressed with the curriculum and excited to take advantage of the tremendous resources across Columbia University and in New York City. Another selling point was that the program encompasses both visual and performing arts. My background is in the visual arts and I wanted to broaden my perspective by learning about the world of performing arts as well.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

I was at a point in my career where I loved the path I was going on, but knew there were specific management and business skills that I needed in order to progress to the next level. With its blend of theory and practice, the ARAD program is helping me become a stronger critical thinker and providing me with the skillset I was looking for.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

I love life as a member of the ARAD community! Because of the cohort experience, ARADers are a close-knit group and develop strong personal and professional relationships. There are also opportunities to get involved with the program on deeper levels and take on leadership roles for special projects, like the management of social media platforms, developing panel sessions, and becoming a student mentor for the incoming class.

Maria del Pilar Riofrio

Pilar graduated with a B.A. in History and Cultural Management from the University of Piura. Prior to entering the Arts Administration program, Pilar was the Coordinator of Museums and Education Programs at the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima in Peru where she coordinated projects such as "The Museum at Night" in Lima. Currently she holds an internship at the UNESCO office in New York where she is exploring international cultural policies. Her interests range from visual arts, museum education and strategic planning in arts organizations, to cultural policy and the role of culture in development.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

Several aspects of the program were attractive to me. I liked the curriculum and the vision of the program, particularly the integration of both visual and performing arts. Additionally, I was drawn to the fact that we can enroll in courses at the Business and Law Schools. Another huge plus is the great quantity of electives that one can take, which allows me to shape my studies according to my interests. I was also excited by internship opportunities and exploring the arts scene in New York City, while expecting the highest academic experience at Columbia University.

 

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

Enormously. So far it’s been a year of intensive learning that has strengthened my previous skills, and developed new ways of approaching about the art world and the role of arts administrators. On one hand, the business courses opened a whole new way of thinking in administrative terms and gave me practical marketing and managing skills. On the other hand, arts related courses took me back to research, helping me to delve deeper into my topics of interest.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

The graduate life at the ARAD community goes beyond rigorous academics. There are always incentives to get to know each other outside the classrooms – whether it’s at happy hours, or more formal events like the Distinguished Speaker series that aim to connect us with what experts are doing in the field. There are also student groups and many things to get involved in on campus, and in the city; but the key is to make the most of it according to your interests. I also enjoy the life inside the classroom because listening to so many different perspectives from such a talented cohort is always an enlightening and inspiring experience.