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
Denise Grande works alongside local, state, and national colleagues to create systemic change through arts-based youth development. In directing the Arts Ed Collective, she helps lead a coalition that includes over 100 arts organizations and 74 school districts. Previously, Denise was Director of Programs and Strategic Partnerships for the Metropolitan Opera Guild at Lincoln Center. There, she oversaw arts education programs that impacted over 250 schools across seven states. During her 20 years at The Music Center, she played a leadership role in arts education program design, implementation, research, and evaluation. Denise received her B.A. from UCLA in dance and was a Coro Fellow through the California Arts Council’s Arts Leadership Fellow Program.
Irina Contreras, Program Manager
Irina Contreras 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/M.A. from California College of the Arts and their BFA from Otis College of Art and Design.
Gregg Johnson, Program Manager
Gregg Johnson guides the Arts Ed Collective’s youth development and juvenile justice efforts in camps, halls, juvenile day reporting centers, and continuation high schools. 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
Meia Johnson guides LA County’s initiative to provide young people with pathways into the region’s creative economy. She has extensive experience designing, implementing, and administrating workforce development programs for youth. Meia’s experience also includes community planning, nonprofit management, and organizational development. Previously, she served as a program director and consultant for Antelope Valley YouthBuild where she led the organization’s workforce development programs. Meia is a senior faculty member and subject-matter expert within the School of Business at the University of Phoenix. She has a bachelor’s in journalism, a bachelor’s in Pan-African Studies, and a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Northridge. She is also a first-year doctoral student at the American College of Education, pursuing a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership.
Megan Kirkpatrick, Senior Manager
Megan 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, Megan 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
Gillian McCarthy guides the Arts Education Innovation Lab, stakeholder convenings for the arts provider and school district networks, and school district enrollment in the Arts Ed Collective. In addition, she 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. Gillian also served as the national manager for WebPlay, a web-integrated theatre program, and developed a comprehensive theatre curriculum for 24th STreet Theatre.
Elisabeth Nails, Program Manager
Elisabeth Nails guides arts and healing program design/evaluation and arts-based social-emotional learning projects. She co-chairs the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Network's Youth Advisory Board and is a UCLA Arts & Healing–certified Social Emotional Arts Facilitator. She is co-founder of Typewriters Anonymous, a performance group that designs and leads workshops and poetry installations that have been featured at the Skirball Cultural Center, Library Foundation of Los Angeles, Play the LA River, and CicLAvia. Prior to her work at LA County, 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. Elisabeth earned her master's degree in Social Welfare from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts from U.C. Santa Cruz.
Keelia Postlethwaite Stinnett, Program Manager
Keelia Postlethwaite Stinnett guides the school district grants program for over 40 school districts each year. She also serves as a school district liaison, connecting educators to resources for achieving their strategic goals for arts education. Previously, Keelia 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
Rebecca 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, D.C.’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. Rebecca holds an M.A. from the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study (specializing in arts-based critical pedagogy), an M.S. in Library and Information Science from the Catholic University of America (specializing in public programs), and a B.A. from Oberlin College in African American Studies.
Abe Ahn, Development Manager
Abe Ahn supports fundraising efforts for the Arts Ed Collective and helps coordinate the Arts Ed Collective Funders Council. Previously, he worked as part of a national development team supporting AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs across California for early childhood education organization Jumpstart. Abe has also been a freelance arts reporter and was a regular contributor to online arts publication Hyperallergic. He is currently a volunteer at GYOPO, a collective of diasporic Korean cultural producers and arts professionals. He holds a B.A. in Literary Journalism from the University of California, Irvine.
Matt Agustin, Research Associate
Matt 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 degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Irvine.
Rachel Mendoza, Program Assistant
Rachel 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 department's many programs. Previously, Rachel was the receptionist and phlebotomist at Clínica Médica Alvarado.