The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture's Arts Education division staffs the regional efforts of the LA County Arts Education Collective.
Denise Grande, Director of Arts Education
Ms. Grande oversees the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective, spearheading regional efforts to advance arts education for LA County’s 1.5 million public school students. This involves promoting a common agenda, shepherding a 200+ partner coalition that engages over 100 arts organizations and 70 school districts, guiding communications efforts and spearheading research to inform strategy and track progress. Previously, Ms. Grande was Director of Programs and Strategic Partnerships for the Metropolitan Opera Guild at Lincoln Center in New York, annually serving 160 schools across 7 states. During her 20 years at The Music Center in Los Angeles, she played a leadership role in arts education program design, implementation, research and evaluation. Ms. Grande received her BA from UCLA in dance and was a Coro Fellow through the California Arts Council’s Arts Leadership Fellow Program.
Irina Contreras, Program Manager
Irina guides the Arts Ed Collective’s youth development and juvenile justice efforts in County parks and community-based settings. They are an interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator with over 15 years of experience working at the intersections of community organizing, arts and education. Previously, Irina was the School and Community Programs Manager at Museum of the African Diaspora, where they organized healing-informed professional development opportunities for educators and mental healthcare professionals. Irina is the founder of The Miracle Bookmobile and co-founder of Night Kitchen, a sliding-scale consulting service for queer and trans BIPOC/people of color and communities. They received their MFA/MA from California College of the Arts and their BFA from Otis College of Art and Design.
Gregg Johnson, Program Manager
Mr. Johnson guides the Arts Ed Collective’s participation in Juvenile Justice initiatives. He also serves as a school district liaison, connecting educators to resources for achieving their strategic goals for arts education. Previously, he served as artistic director for Big Thought in Dallas, Young Audiences Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, and was the managing producer for the Arts4Learning project of Young Audiences, Inc.
Meia Johnson, Program Manager
Ms. Johnson guides the Teen Arts Pathways initiative which aims to provide youth with pathways into LA County’s creative economy. Previously, she served as a program director and consultant for Antelope Valley YouthBuild where she led the organization’s workforce development programs. Ms. Johnson has also consulted for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre.
Megan Kirkpatrick, Senior Manager
Ms. Kirkpatrick guides the work of the program team and supports school district engagement, advocacy, and research initiatives. She also serves as a school district liaison, connecting educators to resources for achieving their strategic goals for arts education. Previously, Ms. Kirkpatrick was education director at Broadway’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she directed in-school arts education residency and partnership programs, launched a new school partnership model to open three New York City high schools, and created professional development for artists and teachers.
Gillian McCarthy, Program Manager
Ms. McCarthy guides the Arts Education Innovation Lab, stakeholder convenings for the arts provider and school district networks, as well school district enrollment in the Arts Ed Collective. She also serves as a school district liaison, connecting educators to resources for achieving their strategic goals for arts education. Previously, she was associate director of professional development at Inner-City Arts where she implemented creativity and arts programs for teachers, teaching artists, and graduate students. Ms. McCarthy served as the national manager for WebPlay, an internet-integrated theatre program, and wrote a comprehensive theatre curriculum for 24th Street Theatre.
Elisabeth Nails, Program Associate
Ms. Nails supports arts and healing program design and evaluation and arts-based social emotional learning projects. Previously, she served as assistant director at the UCLA Art & Global Health Center and co-produced arts-based public health interventions in Los Angeles and in global cities on four continents. She is a certified Social Emotional Arts facilitator, trained by UCLA Arts & Healing. She holds her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from UC Santa Cruz, and completed her master’s degree in Social Welfare at UCLA.
Keelia Postlethwaite Stinnett, Program Manager
Ms. Postlethwaite Stinnett guides the school district grants program, online directories of arts providers, and supports the Juvenile Justice initiatives. She also serves as a school district liaison, connecting educators to resources for achieving their strategic goals for arts education. Previously, Ms. Postlethwaite Stinnett worked in marketing and graphic design at JRB Art at the Elms, Oklahoma City and at the University of Oklahoma, Norman
Rebecca Renard-Wilson, Senior Manager
Ms. Renard-Wilson co-leads the Arts Ed Collective’s work in embedding the arts into youth and community development as well as LA County systems of care. Previously, she was executive director of CONTRA-TIEMPO, where she helped shape and strengthen the dance company’s community engagement and education work, and the lead strategist of Washington, DC’s Communities on the Rise (COR) initiative to bring together youth-serving government agencies, community-based organizations, and residents in developing and strengthening community infrastructure and leadership. Ms. Renard-Wilson holds a Master’s Degree from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study (specializing in arts-based critical pedagogy), a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the Catholic University of America (specializing in public programs), and a Bachelor’s Degree from Oberlin College in African American Studies.
Development and Communications
Abe Ahn, Development Coordinator
Mr. Ahn supports fundraising efforts for arts education by developing grant proposals/reports, maintaining grant management systems, and assisting funder meetings and events. Previously, he worked as part of the development, marketing, and communications teams for national early childhood education organization, Jumpstart.
Tom McKenzie, Development Manager
Mr. McKenzie is responsible for the management, research, and writing of grants. He serves as the liaison to the LA County Arts Education Funders Council and supports school districts’ fundraising efforts for arts education. Prior to joining the Arts Ed Collective, he cultivated foundation and community relationships for The Broad Stage and managed their Arts Insights Education and Outreach Program.
Research and Evaluation
Matt Agustin, Research Associate
Mr. Agustin supports the collection, analysis, and evaluation of arts education data. His research informs school districts, community arts partners, and other arts education stakeholders. Previously, Matt was a research analyst for Advancement Project California. He studied applied mathematics at the University of California, Riverside and holds a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine.
Rachel Mendoza, Program Assistant
Ms. Mendoza provides administrative support for the Arts Ed Collective. She has also worked as a receptionist for the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture where she supported the departments many programs. Previously, Rachel was the receptionist and phlebotomist at Clínica Médica Alvarado.