Meet New Staff: Katherine Robles-Ayala

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Please meet Katherine Robles-Ayala, the Workshop’s new administrative assistant! We are thrilled to have Katherine on the team, greeting visitors with her natural warmth, bringing her keen eyes and attention to detail to all tasks, navigating all things Salesforce, and assisting in numerous programmatic and development-related tasks. Katherine does A LOT, and she does it with the utmost grace, humor, and optimism. She’s a music enthusiast with a passion for food (could fellow staff ask for more?), and she’d love to chat with you in German (if you can).  In this month’s newsletter, Katherine discusses her passion for the Workshop and what brought her back to the Bay Area from Massachusetts!

What brought you to the Workshop?

Word of mouth. A few months ago, I moved back to the Bay Area (from the East Coast), determined to find a job that was both related to my background in music and my desire to make the arts accessible to lower income people of color. With that determination, I contacted anyone and everyone I knew. I announced to the world that I was in search of a job in the arts non-profit sector, and before I knew it, a friend of a friend connected me to Performing Arts Workshop. After an hour-long informational interview, I fell in love with the Workshop’s mission and applied for my position. I’ve now been working here since August, and I love every minute of it.

What was most memorable to you about any of the site visits you’ve been on?

Witnessing one of our teaching artists being totally embraced by his students. After a rigorous dance practice, many of the students ran up to him and hugged him before being escorted out of class. The next class was already behind the closed doors, eagerly looking through the windows and waiting to start.

How has working at the Workshop affected you?

Working at the Workshop is a blessing. To be surrounded by artists and people who care so deeply and share in my mission to make the arts accessible to lower income people of color is a dream come true. Working at the Workshop has fortified my passion for the arts and why they’re important. It has given me a sense of place and reignited in me a sense of purpose.

Sitecation: A Week to Observe, Reflect, and Discuss

By: Katherine Robles-Ayala, Administrative Assistant

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Workshop staff posing outside of Visitacion Valley Elementary School, after a successful site observation.

This year, Workshop staff participated in our first ever Sitecation—a week dedicated to having staff visit partner sites. Our aim was to develop a deeper understanding of successes and areas for growth in Workshop classrooms in order to be better advocates in our respective areas of focus.  

We visited six different partner sites. At each site, we encountered talented and passionate teaching artists educating their students in their respective art forms. From Salê’s Capoeira instruction to Dazaun’s Hip Hop dance, Workshop students were seen energetically collaborating with their peers and teaching artists.  

Students, ages 3 to 11, joyously engaged in dance, music, and martial arts, where they explored topics, such as history, creativity, inclusion, original composition, and community building. But the students weren’t the only ones able to engage in such topics through the arts! At the beginning of the week, Workshop staff participated in a Chinese dance class led by Artist Mentor, Chinchin Hsu. In the class, Chinchin challenged everyone to think about the power of our emotions and cultural inclusion (or divide) through our body movements. Participating in such a class and witnessing younger students’ participation in similar classes proved to be a positively impactful experience in our Sitecation week.

Thank you to our program staff, partner sites, teaching artists, students, and everyone who made our first annual Sitecation week possible!