Meet Program Manager Adam Levy!

adam

As Performing Arts Workshop’s new Program Manager, Adam Levy manages our school and community site partnerships with the most supreme diligence, which makes sense considering his background. Adam’s a writer and translator, who, together with his wife, just launched a small press, Transit Books. We staff members are grateful for Adam’s commitment to the Workshop’s original book club revival project: the Place of Business Book Club. (Although a few of us have said more than once we plan on attending the staff book club meetings and then don’t, Adam remains patient and dedicated to the project. Maybe it’s the teacher in him.) Read on to learn more about what brought Adam to the Workshop and what keeps him committed to the work.  

What brought you to the Workshop?

After spending a handful of years in the classroom—first as a high school teacher in Budapest and later as a teaching artist and undergraduate instructor in New York—I came to the Workshop eager to support youth and arts programming in a new capacity, in communities that need it most.

What is one of the most memorable things you encountered while at a site visit?

We throw a release party each year for the poetry anthology put together by the students at Marin Juvenile Hall. In one of my first weeks with the Workshop, I was fortunate enough to hear the students read from their work. The power of their stories just blew me away.

What do you like most about being the Workshop’s Program Manager?

I love getting back in the classroom, either to meet with teachers or observe classes, although I don’t mind not having to grade papers!

In spite of our best efforts, we as an office have failed you, because we have failed the book club you started up again (a book club that we get so excited about but sort of fail to attend). Despite our failure, what makes you continue coming to work?

I keep coming to work because I’m surrounded by some pretty sharp, arts-minded colleagues, who care deeply about what we do. What they lack in book club attendance, they make up for in wit and culinary skill.

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Meet Program Coordinator Priscilla Lopez!

priscilla

Priscilla Lopez is the Workshop’s new Program Coordinator, and she’s pretty fearless. She schedules our artistic residencies at school or community sites, manages our internal database, and regularly creates reports from our residency data. But what makes Priscilla even more amazing? She began this role just two weeks prior to our HUGE 50th Anniversary celebration, and she proved she was game for it all. The office has been enriched by Priscilla’s sense of adventure. She even fire dances! (In spite of our best efforts, she WILL NOT fire dance for us at the office.)

In this post, Priscilla discusses how she came to the Workshop, why she’s invested in its mission, and how a certain student in his Adidas track suit taught her the true meaning of swag.

What brought you to the Workshop?

Can I say destiny? (laughing). I think it was a profound desire to find not just a day-to-day job, but to connect my passion with my work. I love the Workshop’s passion and commitment to the students we serve. And as someone who understands the challenges inherent in the San Francisco communities we serve, as well as the power of art, I knew this was the right place for me.

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

I had one memorable visit at Mission Bay [Head Start, one of our Preschool for All sites] to see Melissa Wynn’s creative movement class. There were 12 kids in the classroom, all excited, all wide-eyed. They were so eager to do the next move in the sequence, to get more and more. It made me think of how much energy you have when you’re between the ages of three and five. When you get older, you’re always thinking about how you appear to others, what you look like. But when you’re a kid, you’re not afraid to mess up, and you are so excited to show and tell. What I love about the Workshop is that it’s giving these kids a new way of allowing their energy to express itself.

How has working at the Workshop affected you?

I feel truly honored in serving the kids we’re serving, and I have a newfound respect for them because I’m even more aware of the challenges at their school sites.

I look at my nieces and nephews who can go to gymnastics classes or take part in a number of other extracurricular activities. Because of their socio-economic status, those classes come more easily. But what we’re doing at the Workshop is serving the students who don’t have access to those activities, or whose access does not come as readily or easily. I feel really lucky to be doing that work.

What was most memorable to you about the 50th Anniversary, especially considering how closely you worked with the student performers?

I think I was just mesmerized by how hyper and nervous and shaky the kids were. I made everyone take three deep breaths to calm down. It was funny, though, because as soon as they got on the stage, they were immediately performers. They just snapped into it! It was pretty amazing. And the parents of the kids looked so proud and excited, too. They took so many pictures!

Priscilla had recently told us that one of the 50th Anniversary student performers was wearing a sharp Adidas track suit. Priscilla said, “Hey, that’s a cool outfit,” to which the student replied, “Thanks, I know,” with a smirk.

What about the student in the track suit? Do you think he got his confidence and sass from the Workshop or was he just born with it?

(Laughing) You know, I think the confidence and sass were just him; he’s pretty indicative of the amazing students we serve. I think the Workshop was just the arena for him to show off that confidence.

 

Meet Board Member Kendra Wong!

Kendra doing "batik" (traditional silk dying/painting) while living in Thailand last year.

Kendra doing “batik” (traditional silk dying/painting) while living in Thailand last year.

Every member of Performing Arts Workshop’s board of directors is simply amazing. Kendra Wong is no exception. She paints, dances, and has traveled all over the world for work. While balancing her jet-set job and board commitments, she’s planning her wedding and a two-month multi-destination honeymoon! (We weren’t kidding about our amazing members…)

Here are ten things you must know about Kendra:

1. Where did you grow up?
Hong Kong until age 6, then Hercules (East Bay Area).

2. What is your favorite art form?
Painting, Dance

3. What college did you attend and what did you study?
UC Berkeley, double major in Business Administration and Economics

4. Do you have a favorite quotation?
“Gam zeh ya’avor” (This too shall pass).

5. Any career highlights you’d like to share? What are you currently doing?
Tried my hand at tax accounting during college and discovered quickly that I need human interaction to thrive; so I joined consulting with Accenture upon graduation and have been here ever since (7 years)! So far, I have consulted for every major industry and in 8 states and 4 countries. Currently, I am staffed in sunny Irvine — my best commute to date!

6. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be?
A bit of a cheat, but a 2 month long around-the-world trip! I’m currently planning it for my honeymoon next May 🙂

7. What inspired you to join the Workshop’s Board of Directors?
Growing up as an immigrant in the Bay Area, I did not get the exposure and engagement with the arts that I craved as a naturally creative and inquisitive individual. Had I had this exposure, I feel I would’ve been able to develop the self-confidence I now have, but much earlier on. I joined the Workshop to help ensure that future generations of Bay Area youth can have this exposure and reap the benefits.

8. What are your hobbies?
Acrylic painting, travel, DIY projects and crafts, trying & reviewing restaurants.

9. What do you like to do on the weekend/in your time off?
I like to take weekend trips when I can, but if at home, I enjoy running around San Francisco with my fiancé and taking advantage of all the festivals and events that this great city always has going on.

10. Do you have a favorite book?
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

10 Things About Jenna!

 

 

Meet Jenna Fiore, our New Sector Alliance Fellow for Summer 2014!

Jenna Fiore_photo (1)

 

Role: Organizational Capacity Building Fellow
Project: Jenna is working to analyze our current volunteer engagement strategy and develop a process to streamline support and more effectively use volunteers. She is also working to document the impact and reach of our programming through a visual representation of historic program sites. Finally, Jenna is assisting to transcribe student performance and interview videos for use in case studies, reports, and proposals.

1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Kalamazoo, MI. Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo!

2. What is your favorite art form?
Definitely musical theater and dance. Growing up, my life was basically a musical with my mother, younger sisters, and I bursting into song whenever it fit the situation. I have also always loved dance, though I only started dancing when I got to college and joined the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Team.

3. Where do you go to school, and what are you studying?
I am in the Organizational Studies major at the University of Michigan and going into my senior year! My pathway is focused on leadership and creating positive change in the social sector.

4. How did you hear about the Workshop?
From New Sector Alliance, who couldn’t say enough good things about how Performing Arts Workshop is such a great organization and host site for New Sector fellows.

5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I really just love all ice-cream (and milkshakes)! My favorite flavors have cycled through Mint Chocolate-Chip, Mocha, Moose Tracks, Cherry Chocolate, and Chocolate-Peanut Butter.

6. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be?
Somewhere warm with nothing to do but read, relax, and breathe (…and maybe ride horses along the beach). That would be my ideal vacation.

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have absolutely no clue; there are so many different paths my life could take at this point that I can’t possibly imagine where I will be in 10 years.

8. What are your hobbies?
Reading, ballroom dancing, going to the movies (and getting popcorn), and just hanging out with family and friends.

9. What is the last book you read?
I am currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. If you haven’t read it, you absolutely need to.

10. What is your favorite thing to do over the summer?
Going on our yearly camping trip with my family and our dogs. It is so therapeutic to sleep so close to nature and just spend time unwinding and talking with the people you love.

Meet our Student Showcase Intern, Joseph Tomsovic!

10 things about our Student Showcase Intern, Joseph Tomsovic!

joseph

 

  1. Describe yourself in three words:
    Witty, organized, and creative. 
  2. Where were your interests while growing up?
    My biggest hobby was doing art projects but I also kept myself busy by playing the flute and the piano. I tried all sorts of sports and stuck with tennis for a couple years but ended up quitting because I was not coordinated at all. 
  3. Where do you go to school, and what are you studying?
    I’m currently a senior at San Francisco State University, working towards getting my BS in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration with an emphasis in Event Planning and Tourism. 
  4. What is your favorite form or art?
    It’s a tie between mixed media artwork and music. 
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
    I would love to go back to England. I love the culture and the rich history it has to offer people. If I had to choose somewhere I’ve never been before I would definitely go to Japan. 
  6. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    Working fashion-related events in LA. 
  7. What is your favorite form of exercise?
    Taking my three dogs to Fort Funston! It gives me a chance to get some fresh air at the beach and it gives my dogs a chance to run around. 
  8. What do you think is your best personality trait and what is your worst?
    I’m very giving, in regards to time and effort. As for a negative trait, sometimes I don’t realize how curt I can be when I’m talking to people. 
  9. How did you hear about the Workshop?
    I heard about the internship here at the Performing Arts Workshop from a teacher whose event planning class I had taken last spring. When people send her emails looking for volunteers or interns, she forwards them to people she thinks would be interested and suitable for the position. 
  10. Finally, what are you most afraid of?
    Spiders and clowns!

Meet our New Sector AmeriCorps Resident, Maya Sussman!

9 things about our New Sector AmeriCorps Resident, Maya Sussman

Maya Sussman

1. What is your role at the Workshop?

As part of my 11-month AmeriCorps fellowship through New Sector Alliance, I’m working on a variety of capacity-building projects at the Workshop. In addition to developing a student advisory council to engage the Workshop’s alumni, I’m leading the planning of our two upcoming student performance events: Beats of the Bayview (March 20, 2014) and the Annual City-Wide Student Showcase (May 2014).

Want to know more about Beats of the Bayview?  Click HERE!

2. Where did you grow up?

San Francisco, CA! (Bernal Heights, to be precise)

 3. What college did you attend and what did you study?

I attended Tufts University, outside of Boston. I double-majored in International Literary and Visual Studies, and Italian Studies.

4. What is your favorite art form?

Visual art, specifically murals and other forms of public art. I’ve been spoiled by San Francisco’s colorful streets!

 5. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be?

I’ve always wanted to go to Antarctica to see penguins in the wild. I used to spend hours watching them waddle around at the zoo and daydreaming about standing next to an emperor penguin.

  6. What are your hobbies?

Backpacking, running, watercolor painting, and hosting tea parties.

 7. What is your favorite restaurant?

La Corneta on Mission Street. I always order the same thing – shrimp burrito with black beans, cheese and guacamole.

8. Do you have any pets?

I have a sassy but loving English Shepherd named Canela. Growing up I had a cat named Noodle, two rabbits, and a few hermit crabs.

9. Do you have a favorite quote?

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

A Love Letter to the Workshop

Dear Performing Arts Workshop,

I’m been meaning to tell you this for some time now, but let me just come right out and say it.

I love you.

You introduced me to the San Francisco Bay Area, made me cry with joy on a regular basis, and produced a pride in my own self-development that no one else could give me.

From when I first walked into your tiny two-room cell space in Fort Mason eight years ago as a fresh faced intern, to leaving your high ceiling industrial loft in Dogpatch as a fully fledged manager – you have been a constant in my life. You changed who I was and put me on course for who I am becoming.

Dear friend, are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Let me illustrate some of the myriad ways that you stole my heart.

Your People:

You are staffed by amazing do-gooders; people who care about and make your mission happen in real and tangible ways. Administrative staff, teaching artists, board members, and executive leadership: all are astounding individuals who have taught me so much and continue to surprise. These loving and funny people who know how to throw a party as well as the thrill of a student taking a risk in the classroom for the first time have wheedled you into my heart and I can’t let go.

Your Organization:

You’ve been a leader in arts education since 1965. For almost half a century you’ve changed people’s lives including my own. You took me through two and a half strategic plans and each new version of you has been stronger and increasingly focused. That freshness and forward thinking is, dare I say it, sexy.

Your Mission:

I believe in you. I believe in helping young people develop critical thinking, creative expression and essential learning skills through the arts. Is there a better way to learn how to be human? Is there a better way to discover the power we have to create and influence the world around us? I don’t think so.

Need I say more?

I know our time together is drawing to a close, just as all relationships do. Please know that you’ve made me a better person, as I hope I’ve helped you grow successfully.

I wish you only the best, dear Workshop, as I know you wish for me.

Love always,

Anne Trickey