Celestina Billington is an artist and activist living in Manhattan. She has previously partnered with organizations that include Amnesty International and AmeriCorps VISTA. Currently, her direct action work is with vulnerable groups on COVID outreach with the nonprofit Good Old Lower East Side. Her artistic work is multidisciplinary and grounded in writing, experimental performance and social practice. She has been in productions at Museo de Arte Moderno, La Mama Theater and DiverseWorks. She is a founding member of the international collective “OURNA,” which produces original films, albums, podcasts and zines. In her free time Celestina enjoys traveling and caring for a pet turtle.
Joanna Calhoun graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a minor in Business Management. At Tulane University, she was a classical violinist in the Tulane Symphony Orchestra throughout all her semesters. During her undergraduate studies, she gained work experience through several internships with arts organizations such as the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Make Music NOLA, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Joanna’s professional interests center around marketing, communications, event programming, and arts education. Her ultimate goal is to bring the arts to underserved communities and to transform the arts to become more equitable and inclusive.
Hannah Cleveland graduated from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2020 where she studied Music Education and Violin. Throughout her undergraduate education, she enjoyed participating in a Mariachi Band and a Steel Pan Ensemble. Hannah is looking forward to promoting diversity on all stages and making the arts accessible to all.
Emily Ditkovski holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she focused on social justice theatre, and an M.A. in Educational Theatre from NYU’s Steinhardt School where she studied community-based theatre abroad at Trinity College, Dublin and Theatre of the Oppressed with Augusto Boal in Rio de Janeiro. She has taught theatre in communities across New York City, from the South Bronx to Sunset Park, with The Children’s Aid Society and Girls Leadership Institute. Most recently she was the Director of the Williston Theatre at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts, an independent boarding and day school for grades 7-12, where she led all aspects of the theatre program including budget oversight, curriculum development, and program advocacy. She is a founding board member of the Scarlet Sock Foundation, a grant-giving non-profit organization focused on expanding access to all facets of theatre arts for historically underrepresented populations. Emily is a fervent believer in the power of theatre to transform lives and the necessity of equitable access to the arts. At ARAD she is particularly interested in studying the efficacy of the Community Youth Development model and how to increase access points to leadership positions in arts organizations.
Noni Ford graduated from St. Mary's College of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Film & Media Studies and minors in Studio Art and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. Upon graduating, she has pursued multiple roles in Arts Administration, interning at Young Audiences of Maryland, serving as Chorus Manager at Children's Chorus of Washington and in her most recent role of Production Coordinator for Joe’s Movement Emporium. With her background in costume design, she has worked with Ally Theatre Company and Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Maryland. and interned at Lyric Repertory Company in Utah. She is very excited to start her journey at Teachers College and explore new possibilities in the ARAD program.
Sheng Gao graduated with a B.A. degree in music in piano concentration with a minor in computer science from George Washington University in 2021 as a music scholarship recipient of George Steiner. Before GW, he studied general engineering at Beihang University where he became interested in art exhibition and performance works. During his undergraduate career at GW, he is recognized as piano soloist, collaborator, concert program director and art history researcher. Sheng has performed in solo and chamber recitals and cameratas at Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. His repertoire covers major music works in the Western Tonal Era. He has participated in the virtual concert series during the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking to unite people together and share music with his audiences under social distancing protocols. He has worked with librarians and scholars in National Gallery of Art and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. exploring the artworks in Renaissance and Shakespeare’s Age. In his senior solo piano recital, he acts as both performer and administrator and pairs the program with piano literature research concentrating on keyboard étude in the Romantic Period. By pursuing study at TC ARAD, he hopes to explore the collision of fashion, performing arts and visual arts in different dimensions. In the future, he aims to direct museum fashion shows, presenting fashion and arts beyond boundaries and cultures.
Kristen Garrett graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California in 2017, where she earned her BA in Theatre. While there, she held a Trustee Scholarship, joined Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated as salutatorian of the School of Dramatic Arts. Since graduating, she has been an active actor and comedian in Los Angeles. In 2018, she became the box office attendant and administrative assistant at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club, where she fell in love with working in the arts in a managerial capacity. She is excited to further this passion at Teachers College, and plans to integrate her experience as an artist and an administrator to expand public access to live performance and make the performing arts a more equitable experience for both the artists and the audience.
Leora Goldfeder graduated magna cum laude from CUNY, Brooklyn College in 2020 where she earned a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Art History. During her studies, Leora held internships at The Jewish Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in a New York art gallery where she still currently works. Leora is interested in exploring the role of art in creating culture in a social, economic, and political context, and looks forward to taking advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of the ARAD program.
Bianca Horn is originally from Port-au-Prince Haiti and a graduate of Southern Methodist University where she earned a BFA in Acting. As a performer, some of her favorite credits include: Off Broadway: The Play That Goes Wrong, National Tour: The Play That Goes Wrong, Color Purple (Revival), and Hairspray. Her interest are in community outreach, equality and inclusion for working artist, and teaching artistry. Through the ARAD program at TC she hopes to intertwine her passion for the performing arts and continue to developing her skills as an arts leader. She is also a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.
Arnell Nur Karina graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York University with a BS in Media, Culture, and Communication and a minor in Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology. At NYU, she was the co-creator and co-host of the Webby Award nominated podcast, “So, What Do You Do?”, which interviews professionals with unconventional careers. With a strong interest in casting and talent management, she has interned at The Singapore Repertory Theatre, Telsey + Company, Nicolosi & Co, Sweet 180 Management & Production, and The Broadway League. With a passion for the performing arts, she has been singing for most of her life and has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and The Esplanade Hall in Singapore. Arnell looks forward to joining the Arts Administration program to explore the possibilities of diverse representation within the entertainment sectors of Film, Television, and Theatre.
Michelle Kwhak graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in the History of Art. She is interested in examining global modern and contemporary art within its sociopolitical context, especially the ways in which art has been used as a form of protest under repressive conditions. During her undergraduate career, she has held internships at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and other art galleries in the Bay Area. Ultimately, Michelle hopes to work with both nonprofit and for-profit organizations to support and give platforms to BIPOC artists. She not only looks forward to learning from the ARAD program but also through collaboration with her fellow peers!
Lucy Bu Liu is from Vancouver, Canada, and recently graduated from Yale University with a B.A in Art History and Anthropology. Her academic interests are in Chinese contemporary art and the art market, specifically the ways through which underrepresented actors navigate an often exclusive, opaque, and relationship-based industry. Her career interests are primarily in non-profit development, as she loves communication and working with people. She has had very positive and rewarding experiences interning at the Yale Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lucy hopes to continue developing industry-essential tools and skills at TC ARAD and look forward to meeting like-minded classmates who are passionate about the arts!
Nicolás Medina Gutiérrez is a classically-trained violinist with over 19 years of experience playing in symphony orchestras. A native of Venezuela, Nicolás has performed internationally in over 15 countries in Europe and Asia as a member of the Youth Orchestra of Caracas, one of the most successful results of the widely replicated “El Sistema” program. Medina received his Bachelor of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with American violinist Brian Lewis. He has performed numerous times as a soloist and was a winner of the 2018 “Texas Rising Stars” String Concerto Competition. Nicolás is an advocate of accessibility in the arts and is an incoming graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University. During his undergraduate degree, Nicolás produced “In with the New: Music from Living Composers” that proposes a contextualized approach to contemporary music through the connection of the audience to the composers. This project had the collaboration of multi-Grammy winner Joan Tower, as well as other prominent figures in the field of composition.
Lauren Mullen graduated from NYU Tisch's Film and Television program in 2014. Since then she has been working in New York City as a producer and writer. She's worked on everything from commercials, short films, TV, and podcasts. She loves to work within the diverse artist community in the city and bring creative visions to life. Lauren is also a leading member of WF Writing, a writers group with an emphasis on openness and inclusivity. She is excited to join the ARAD program to develop her leadership skills to promote socio-economic equality within the writing and performing arts community.
Jessica Pomeroy graduated with honors from The New School of Drama in 2019 with her BFA in Dramatic Arts. While there, she completed internships with the PROTOTYPE Musical Theatre and Opera Festival, The Miranda Theatre Company, and Wingspan Arts. After graduating, Jessica was the Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founder of HERE WE GO: A Site-Specific Production Company from 2019-2020, presenting the work of emerging artists in unique locations, and led by an all-female identifying team. In April of 2021, she produced an online multidisciplinary arts festival challenging artists to reflect on their experience of artmaking in 2020, and how they have had to reinvent their process. When she is not working independently as a producer, Jessica is the Development Assistant at the nonprofit theatre company HERE Arts Center. All of Jessica's work centers around her three major values of accessibility, representation, and connection. She looks forward to earning her degree in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University, and gaining the necessary tools and perspective to develop and produce innovative, inclusive musical theatre work on a larger scale.
Alise Katrina Pundure graduated Summa Cum Laude, Honors with Distinction from Drexel University with a B.S. in Entertainment and Arts Management in 2021. She grew up in Latvia, a country deeply identified with its cultural heritage. Alise’s interests in the arts sector range from museums to festivals and technology in the arts. She has volunteered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, and interned at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga, Latvia. She is currently working for a Latvian SME Vividly, which supports arts organizations with immersive technology solutions. Alise strives to bridge gaps between countries to encourage international collaborations that increase the understanding of diverse cultures while elevating artists and arts organizations. Her long-term goal is to help emerging Baltic (Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian) artists by giving them platforms to showcase their talent around the world. As part of the ARAD program, Alise hopes to experience an interdisciplinary and research-focused environment, make valuable connections for future collaborations, and gain knowledge and skills that will assist her in making art accessible to all.
Allaistar Regan is a graduate from Skidmore College with a Bachelor of Science in Dance Performance and Choreography and a double minor in Management & Business and Arts Administration. Having a passion for dance and arts education, she interned at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and American Ballet Theater. She created young audience guides, composed lesson plans for in-school residencies, and administered dance education programs, such as the Kennedy Center Dance Lab. She is excited to start her journey at ARAD in Teachers College, Columbia University, and she looks forward to developing her skills as an arts leader.
Caiwei Ren gained her BA in Online Journalism and New Media at Shanghai International Studies University, focusing on data analysis and marketing. Raised in Shanghai, China, Caiwei developed her interests in a variety of art forms, such as symphony, musical and photography. She interned in China Economic Information Service in 2020, which is affiliated to Xinhua News Agency, participating in marketing design for an evening event. She also interned at Nancy's Gallery, dedicated to developing more media channels and creating customized content for different target audiences to promote art. With a diverse background in marketing, data as well as art, she hopes to amplify the voices of artworks and promote diversity, inclusion, and tolerance among different cultures.
Hayley Rothman was born and raised in Brooklyn, and graduated from Vassar College in 2016 as a double major in Chinese and Japanese with dual departmental honors. After graduation, she worked at Japan Society in NYC as a Performing Arts Intern, then moved to Kanazawa, Japan where she spent three years as a Coordinator for International Relations. She is passionate about the application of international exchange and cross-cultural communication through the arts, and has a special enthusiasm for classical music and the performing arts. During her free time, Hayley can be found playing violin in various community orchestras around Kanazawa and NYC, or snowboarding in the Japanese Alps.
Ashima Tshering is from New Delhi, India and holds a Bachelors from the National Institute of Design with a specialisation in Exhibition Design. She has 3 years of experience as a Designer specialising in Museum Spaces. Ashima has worked for various organisations in the Arts such as the Kathmandu Triennale, Siddhartha Art Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art. Her practise is aimed at providing democratic access to cultural institutions and transforming their roles as stakeholders in society.
Ehren L. Valmé is a performer and project manager dedicated to developing equity, diversity, and open-mindedness in artistic communities. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the Juilliard School studying with John D. Rojak and Joseph Alessi and serves as the Trombone Department Faculty Assistant. Ehren is the Bass Trombonist of the Montclair Orchestra and Orchestra Manager of the Juilliard Pre-College Division. He is a co-founder of the National Arts Diversity Integration Association (NADIA) and his work as an audio engineer and producer has been featured by the Juilliard School, United Nations Chamber Music Society, Wycliffe Gordon, Opus Illuminate, and the Metropolis Ensemble. An ardent supporter of new music, Ehren has spearheaded several initiatives to commission, premiere, and conduct contemporary solo, chamber, and orchestral works.
John Velasco is a ballet dancer, musician and arts professional. He was born and raised in San Diego, California. John began dancing at the age of 10 years old studying ballet and Scottish Highland Dancing competing in national and international competitions. He graduated from UC Irvine in 2005 with a degree in Classics, with an emphasis in Latin. After undergraduate he worked in Human Resources where he developed an appreciation for operations management. Eventually, John decided to make the jump to professional ballet dancer, dancing with the California Ballet Company in San Diego. Additionally, John served as the Community Engagement Manager of the company, helping the California Ballet Company spearhead the first Autism/Sensory Friendly Nutcracker, a first for a professional company on the west coast at that time. With his passion for service and nonprofit, John did a two-year internship with The Arc of San Diego, the city’s largest provider of disability services where he worked to help further integrate arts programs. In 2018 John received his certificate in non-profit management from Harvard Extension School. He serves on the board of The Rosin Box Project, a modern ballet company in San Diego that highlights LGBTQIA, BIPOC musicians, dancers and choreographers. His passion is arts education, helping to create more diversity, access, and equity in the arts.
Helena Wang graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Fashion Design in 2019. She believes in the power of fashion to heal, protect, and change the way people feel about themselves, since it is the art form that most closely touches the human body. With 5 years of experience in the fashion industry, Helena has worked for designers such as Vera Wang, Jason Wu, Adeam, and Ulla Johnson; she also has experience at startups, such as healthwear company Care+Wear. Helena’s constant mission is to bridge fashion and healing experiences by designing functionally healing yet visually empowering garments. Interdisciplinary collaborations with medical practitioners and psychologists have been a crucial part of her design process. Through Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University, Helena is excited to fulfill her entrepreneurial spirit, gain tactical creative leadership skills, and explore how art and design systems can be truly healing for our world.
Di Wu was born in Jiangsu, China and recently graduated from Zhejiang University with a BA degree in environment design and a minor in public administration. During her undergraduate study, she interned in both non-profits and for-profits art institutions, including Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing, Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology and Xiling Yinshe Auction Company in Hangzhou. Her diverse learning in public policy and art design and colorful work experiences in arts administration determined her passion in art, especially in how to make arts accessible for all. Through the ARAD program, Di Wu looks forward to finding more convenient accesses for the public to gather information on art exhibitions, collections, and what they regard as good art. In the future, she wants to be an innovator who is dedicated to inspiring creative art activities in Chinese art market.
Aishan Zhang is a Chicago-based independent curator, and the Director of Media Strategy and Communications at Museum 2050 who has worked internationally at the intersections of curation and social media strategy for non-profit organizations and auction houses, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Long Museum and Sotheby’s. She is passionate about bridging art and technology to expand accessibility, foster learning, and bring people together.