Connie Colvin, Director of Development (2014-2016), is the principal at Very Serious Deadline Coaching, equal parts enthusiasm and absurdity mixed with strategic planning and project management. Focusing on the fun and surprise of life in conjunction with forward traction on your projects, Connie provides support and structure for those outside of traditional organizations.
Based on her training and experience as a project manager at American Red Cross and Columbia University in conjunction with her creative practices, Connie realized the need for project management and deadline coaching for other creative individuals working outside a traditional structure. Recognizing that a key component in creative project management is a budget, Connie has over time created a robust toolkit of development tools – from individual fundraising to grant writing to acquiring in-kind donations and event sponsorships. While working in a number of artistic collaborations, Connie was a freelance event planner and administrative consultant in New York City for five years prior to stepping into WNET (PBS affiliate) in the Membership department. (If you want to get into a really boring conversation that Connie will be incredibly excited about, ask her about Matching Gifts! Or how everything can be a project to be managed!)
Connie’s primary creative practice is media making. She was first drawn to documentary filmmaking as a way to connect in a meaningful way and share stories. Connie loves the collaborative and community aspects of film projects, ranging from small casual collectives to more polished large professional productions. When taking a break from filmmaking, Connie can be found creating and then deconstructing embroidered wax “palates.”
Connie holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Indiana University – Bloomington, focusing primarily on aesthetics and pragmatism. She continues to love to read philosophy texts about the nature of humor and jokes, but no humorous texts about philosophy.
Jasmine Clarke, Development Intern (2014-2015) Originally from Boston, MA recently graduated from Wheaton College, MA. Jasmine studied art history and education developing an interest in community and youth development through the arts as a result of her practical experiences and academic studies. Jasmine’s passion for the arts and community engagement began in high school through her participation in programs like City Year; City Heroes, Boston’s Mayors Mural Crew, and National Arts Honors Society which introduced her to the ways in which the arts and engaging with your community could foster change, growth, and development. It wasn’t until attending Wheaton College that she realized she could connect her passions and transform them into a career. Taking on her first internship at ParkARTS in Boston allowed her to work first-hand with the public with activities that included assisting local artists with watercolor workshops in the parks of Boston. Exploring the possibility of museum education as a way of engaging the public through the arts Jasmine decided to intern at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art where she learned critical skills, gaining knowledge of the museum world.
Jennifer Morrison, Development and Program Assistant(2014-2015) recently moved to Providence by way of Portsmouth, VA and her hometown of Warwick, RI. Jennifer has worn a variety of career hats, including those of administrative assistant, telemarketing campaign coordinator, nanny, and library assistant. She received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College, with a concentration in poetry. She writes creatively in English and in German, which she studied as an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island. Following her graduation from URI, Jennifer taught English in German public schools for two years. During the summer between academic years, she volunteered with Project Friendship Beyond Borders, working with youth along the former border between East and West Germany. While living overseas, she travelled as far across Europe as she could and refined her palate for quality chocolate.
Elia Gurna, Executive Director (2013-2014), is an artist, an activist, a youth worker and a mother. She was born in Queens, NY and is of mixed heritage – her mother immigrated from Austria and her father from Pakistan. Elia grew up in Queens, Vienna, and Karachi.
Elia’s work has been included in exhibitions annually since 2001, including galleries and other spaces in New York City, Beacon, NY and Philadelphia, as well as the Queens Museum of Art. She is part of the music and poetry performance collaboration einLab, which was featured on Columbia University’s WKCR’s Live Constructions radio program and has performed live in various gallery and museum settings.
As part of her mission to create youth led social change art projects, Elia participated in Theater of the Oppressed trainings and became a Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory facilitator in 2011. She has since facilitated this work for Occupy activists and others.
Elia has worked in youth programs for over 15 years in both the United States and Europe. In New York, she founded and directed Art Without Limits, a program of Development Without Limits (DWL), which provided out of school time art experiences for young people. As part of her work with DWL, Elia also facilitated dozens of professional development workshops on onsite coaching for youth workers and educators on a range of topics including positive discipline and child and youth development.
In addition to her work in art, activism, and youth work Elia has taught German language courses at the university level. Her favorite job yet was being a bike messenger in Vienna, Austria.
Elia holds a B.A. in German and Visual Arts from Columbia University and an MFA in Painting and Sculpture from Queens College, CUNY. She lives in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence with her husband Eric, their children Rosalie and Rafael, and two cats.
Rob Pecchia, Studio Organizer (2013-2014) first came to New Urban Arts as a volunteer during spring break 2011 where he learned silkscreen techniques and was treated to great conversation with students, as well as delicious waffles to fuel creativity. Since then, he has been involved with NUA through additional volunteer days and most recently helping to organize the NUA library.
Prior to joining NUA as Studio Organizer, Rob served as STEM Coordinator with the Providence After School Alliance, supporting AmeriCorps members in facilitating inquiry-based science lessons with middle school youth.
Rob is from Johnston, RI and now lives in Providence. He received a B.A. in Biology from Boston University. He plays trumpet in the What Cheer? Brigade and enjoys spending time working on embroidery, silkscreen and collage.
Dylan Block Harley, Studio Manager (2011) graduated from Earlham College with a BA in English, where he was an active member of the Improv Troupe and numerous bands responsible for inciting spontaneous combustion across campus. His creative practice as a musician, improvisational actor, and visual artist is inextricably tied to his work as an educator and steward of youth empowerment. Dylan first joined New Urban Arts as a music mentor in 2009.
Priscilla Carrion, Studio Manager (2010-2011) was born and raised in Providence. She is an alumni student of New Urban Arts, where she graduated in 2003. Since then, she has been propelled into many textile related directions from quilting and wallpaper design to weaving bicycle tubes. She received a B.A. in Textiles from RISD in 2007. She likes textile craftsmanship and slow processes like quilting knitting, weaving, and stitching. She is a RISCA Educational Teaching Artist, and has been a lead organizer for multiple years in the Urban Pond Procession, a community arts initiative aimed at drawing attention to pollution in urban fresh water bodies in Providence. She also spent a summer working with hand weavers in Guatemala to learn traditional back strap weaving and to understand the positive affects art can have within a community. Despite location changes and the passage of time, Providence’s natural heritage and industrial past still inspires her. If you have any stories about RI’s history, she’ll definitely sit and listen to you. Priscilla has also managedthe Summer 2010 Open Studio, and was an artist mentor in 2011-2012.
Jason Yoon, Executive Director (2008-2012) joined New Urban Arts as its Executive Director in February 2008. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Finance and Operations at the DreamYard Project, a Bronx New York non-profit provider of arts education programs. He also founded and directed 7ARTS, a youth arts program for teenagers based in the Queens Museum of Art and worked as the Development Coordinator at the Explore Charter School, an award-winning public charter school. In his time as Executive Director of New Urban Arts, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recognized New Urban Arts as one of the nation’s 50 best youth arts programs and the United States Department of Education selected New Urban Arts as just one of 20 high school after-school programs to be included in a national study of best practices. In 2009, at a White House Ceremony, Jason accepted a Coming Up Taller Award on behalf of New Urban Arts from First Lady Michelle Obama. An initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Coming Up Taller award is the nation’s highest honor for the field of out-of-school time arts and humanities programs.
Jason has an MPA in public and nonprofit management from NYU Wagner’s Graduate School of Public Service where he was a Carl Long Dean’s Fellow and earned a BFA in painting and art history from the Rhode Island School of Design. While at the Rhode Island School of Design, Jason worked as an Artist Mentor in New Urban Arts’ after-school program.
Jesse Banks III, Youth Program Manager (2007-2013) is a freelance photographer who was raised in Liberia and currently resides in Providence. Jesse has had many roles at New Urban Arts, starting as a student in 2000. He spent many years as an Artist Mentor, a board member, and then joined the staff as the Studio Manager.
His photography has been published in many Rhode Island newspapers including Providence Monthly. Jesse studied photography as a student at New Urban Arts with Artist Mentors’ Erik Gould and Kat Ball.
Visit his photography website.
Sarah Meyer, Director of Programs (2005-2013) joined New Urban Arts as Program Director in October 2005. Since her first Lisa Frank diary, Sarah has identified as a writer, but her passion for the arts and her impulse for creative living extend beyond the written word. As New Urban Arts’ Program Director, Sarah developed many new initiatives, including the Summer Art Inquiry program, the annual Art Inquiry program resource guide series, the Arts Mentoring Fellowship, the Institute of Other Significant Pursuits, the All Night Art Lock-In, the annual year-end Art Party, the Untitlement Project, a summer writing program exploring gender and relationships, and the Studio Team Advisory Board, a youth leadership program. Under her direction, New Urban Arts achieved record youth and artist participation in its programs as well as record attendance at its public programs and exhibitions.
Prior to coming to New Urban Arts, Sarah worked for Young Chicago Authors, a nationally recognized community based arts organization for young writers in Chicago. She developed and supported many projects including a youth advisory council and managing volunteers for Louder Than A Bomb, a week-long poetry slam showcasing 500 youth poets currently featured in an award winning documentary film. As a recipient of the Arts in Youth and Community Development Fellowship, she completed coursework for her Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago in 2005. She holds a B.A. in English from Portland State University with a focus on grantwriting and gender studies.
Tyler Denmead, Founder, Executive Director (1997-2007) started New Urban Arts as an undergraduate at Brown University and led the organization in its first ten years. In 2011, he received his Ph.D. in Education and Social Research from the University of Cambridge. In 2012, Tyler became a post-doctoral fellow at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities at Brown University. His teaching and research examines how artists and young people partner to create the conditions that support open-ended inquiry. He is currently leading a collaborative ethnographic research project at New Urban Arts.
Tyler is the recipient of several fellowships, including the Echoing Green and the Antonio Cirino Memorial fellowships. He lives in Providence with his wife, Kate, and two children, Virginia and Elliott.
Aixa Almonte, AmeriCorps VISTA (2001-2003) as over 15 years of diverse experience in education and healthcare technology companies and startups. Her background spans technology, innovation, education, visual arts, healthcare consulting, product management, and client relationship management. Aixa holds a degree in Visual Arts and Ethnic Studies from Brown University, and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Marcus Civin, Program Director (1997-2000) writes, teaches, curates, draws, makes objects, and performs. He was interim director of Curatorial Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) from 2014-2015. He has also taught at George Washington University, Towson University, and University of California, Irvine. He has exhibited at Boston Center for the Arts, at Emerson Dorsch in Miami, and at Jancar Gallery and Francois Ghebaly in Los Angeles. He has performed at the Supernova Performance Art Festival in Rosslyn, Virginia, and at the Kitchen in New York. From 2009-2010, he was a co-organizer of Perform! Now!, a performance festival that took place in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. His has written for Art Papers, Afterimage, Artforum.com, Artslant, and Sculpture Magazine. He received an MFA in Studio Art from University of California, Irvine, and a BA in Theater from Brown University in Providence, RI.
Angel Award Winners (1998)