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Speakers & Presenters


Carrie Ayvar – Storyteller, Chautauqua Scholar, and Kennedy Center- and Wolf Trap-trained teaching artist – has been connecting curriculum, people, languages, and cultures in both English and Spanish for over 30 years. She has received numerous national and regional awards for service, leadership, and her storytelling recordings, including the Sun Award for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through the Arts, and Broward County’s Teaching Artist ArtsEd Forever Award. A recipient of YA’s National Residency Teaching Artist Credential, she is also an Endorsed Master Teaching Artist for the South Florida Cultural Consortium, an alliance of local arts agencies from five South Florida counties.

Workshop Session: C2. YA-Credentialed Teaching Artists (Panel Discussion), Thursday, March 26 – 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm


Timothy Bellavia, MFA, is an award-winning children’s author, illustrator, and educator, best known for his education research through his We Are All The Same Inside® children’s book series and accompanying Sage doll. A graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College and Pratt Institute, he has collaborated with Sesame Workshop, earned a Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Fellowship Grant, and received a Lambda Award nomination for Outstanding Biography. Timothy is an Assistant Professor of the Graduate School of Education at New York City’s Touro College and University System. He was awarded Outstanding Educator of the Year at the Harvard Club of New York, a Smithsonian Affiliate Artist Space Grant, as well as part of the US Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s prestigious Innovative Educator Research Grant.

Timothy will be joined by Touro colleagues Roslyn Haber, an Assistant Professor, and Susan Courey, Program Chair of Early Childhood General and Special Education.

Workshop Session: B1. Connecting STEAM Thinking and The Arts in Kindergarten Classrooms, Thursday, March 26 – 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm


Over the past 15 years, New Orleans-based teaching artist and curriculum specialist Ja’nese Brooks-Galathe has developed a unique and effective teaching style, while performing dances of the African Diaspora nationally and globally. A Louisiana native, she creates safe learning environments that foster pro-social development, model positive behavior, support social emotional learning, and honor participant accomplishments. Her teaching artistry goes beyond technique, and she shares with her students her deep understanding of music, movement, and culture. Through dance, Ja’nese encourages dialogue among cultural communities, working with grade-school students, dancers, and non-dancers. She is also the co-founder of a fashion and costume company.

Ja’nese will be joined by her colleague Will Bowling, Young Audiences of Louisiana’s Arts Integration Coordinator.  

Workshop Session: B1. Connecting STEAM Thinking and The Arts in Kindergarten Classrooms, Thursday, March 26 – 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm


Deb Hansen recently retired as Education Associate for Visual & Performing Arts and Gifted Programs at the Delaware Department of Education. A graduate of the University of Delaware with a BFA in printmaking, Deb taught visual arts for 12 years before moving into administration in 2000. In 2008 Deb became president of the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education, and she also serves on the leadership team of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. In 1996 Deb was named Delaware’s Art Educator of the Year and twenty years later was named national supervisor-administrator by the National Art Education Association.

Workshop Session: A1. Prints to Prose: Using Creating, Presenting, Responding, & Connecting to Enhance Reading, Writing, Speaking, & Listening, Thursday, March 26 – 10:15 am – 11:30 am


After graduating from Tulane University, Jenny James has been Young Audiences of Louisiana’s Director of Education and Programs since 2008, overseeing arts in education programs serving children and families from birth through high school. Jenny is the Project Director for three US Department of Education grants, providing intensive professional development in arts integration for Jefferson Paris Public Schools. She is also a founding member of the Young Audiences National Residency Teaching Artist Credential working group. Jenny’s passion for her work stems from her dedication to providing equity in access to arts and education. She has presented at several national and local conferences.

Jenny will be joined by Young Audiences of Louisiana colleague Chris Sheard, Cathy Christ (Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts), Erika Villarreal Bunce (Living Arts Detroit), Sicily McRaven (Living Arts Detroit), and teaching artist Karilu Alarcon Forshee. She will also be presenting alongside ICF’s Dr. Yvette Clinton.

Workshop Session: B4. Equitable Access: Community-Based Arts for Early Learners, Thursday, March 26 – 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Workshop Session: C3. Using Evaluation for Early Childhood Program Improvement, Thursday, March 26 – 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm


Molly Johnson is a mother, teaching artist, YA National Residency Teaching Artist Credential recipient, college professor, and printmaker (which requires planning, patience, and small steps to achieve end goals). This, along with her work for a Teachers College, Columbia University certificate in creative flow, informs her work with all ages. She is a proud member of the Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania family, where her arts-integration residencies blend discovery in hands-on making with reading, social studies, and math. Molly participated in a 2019 public art project which brought 11 artists from across the country to the Columbia River Gorge, was honored by Young Audience peers as 2019 Teaching Artist of the Year, received a New Jersey Governor’s Award, and was awarded a Dodge grant to develop public art in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. She holds an MFA from the Ohio State University, a BFA in printmaking from James Madison University, and a BA in art history.

Workshop Session: C2. YA-Credentialed Teaching Artists (Panel Discussion), Thursday, March 26 – 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm


Quynn Johnson is an award-winning performer, teaching artist, and author. She has toured as the tap soloist in the Tony Award-winning production of After Midnight (NCL) and performed both nationally and internationally. In addition to her being a recipient of YA’s National Residency Teaching Artist Credential, Quynn is also a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist. Her programs have reached over 9,500 youth from Pre-K through grade 12. Quynn’s arts-integrated residencies bridge tap dance with literacy, math, and social emotional learning. She has created original productions for youth and has led professional development workshops for teachers and fellow teaching artists.

Workshop Session: C2. YA-Credentialed Teaching Artists (Panel Discussion), Thursday, March 26 – 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm


Akua F. Kouyate-Tate, Vice President, Education at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, oversees Wolf Trap Foundation education programs including the nationally recognized Wolf Trap Institute and Internship and Apprenticeship programs. Prior to joining Wolf Trap in 2001, she worked for more than 25 years as a professional artist, educator, and administrator in public schools and universities, and with arts and disability organizations and government agencies.  Ms. Kouyate-Tate holds an MA in Arts Management and a BA in Performing Arts-Dance from American University, and is a recipient of a Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Award and a 2015 BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference K -12 Promotion of Education Award.

Panel Discussion: Practice, Policy, & Advocacy as it Informs Early Childhood Teaching & Learning, Thursday, March 26 – 11:45 am – 1:45 pm


Cynthia Pepper has been active in the dance world for over 30 years. She began performing early with Virginia Tanner, Bella Lewitzky for the 1984 Olympics, Lorretta Livingston and Dancers, and DonaldByrdDance. After graduating from California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) and San Francisco State University, she created dance outreach programs for local communities. Cynthia’s award-winning choreography has been commissioned by HBO, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, Sundance Channel, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has shared her love of dance to over 40,000 students of all ages and abilities worldwide, through San Francisco Ballet, Young Audiences, Youth in Arts, and several California arts organizations.

Workshop Session: C4. Dance Hacks for Busy Classroom Teachers, Thursday, March 26 – 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm


Todd Shaffer earned his BFA The Atlanta College of Art and, for 10 years, was the director of Atlanta’s Modern Primitive Art Gallery, one of nation’s leading galleries for outsider art. Todd has worked with Young Audiences of Louisiana (YALA) since 1995 as a teaching artist, program administrator, and curriculum specialist. He also taught at Young Audiences Charter School. Todd provides professional development for teaching artists, classroom teachers, and families through YALA’s US Department of Education grant funded programs, as well as through Wolf Trap. He also teaches arts integration courses for aspiring teachers at Tulane University.

He will be presenting alongside YALA teaching artist and Arts Integration Coordinator Renee Benson.

Workshop Session: B3. Using Arts Integration for Centers in Early Childhood Classrooms, Thursday, March 26 – 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm


Dr. Denese Shervington, Founder/CEO, Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies
(Bio coming soon)

Panel Discussion: Practice, Policy, & Advocacy as it Informs Early Childhood Teaching & Learning, Thursday, March 26 – 11:45 am – 1:45 pm


Lynn Tuttle, Director of Public Policy, Research, & Professional Development
(Bio coming soon)

Panel Discussion: Practice, Policy, & Advocacy as it Informs Early Childhood Teaching & Learning, Thursday, March 26 – 11:45 am – 1:45 pm


Sheila Womble is a passionate leader with 20 years of experience in arts administration. Her vibrant approach to tasks and thoughtful analysis of opportunities drove significant growth of Arts for Learning Miami’s (A4L Miami) expanding its programs throughout Miami to serve children from infancy through high school. Sheila led A4L Miami’s pilot preschool initiatives in conjunction with VSA Arts, personally training 250 preschool teachers on arts integration strategies. She secured funding for major early learning research initiatives, and joined forces with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning in the Arts to have A4L Miami become South Florida Wolf Trap.

Sheila will be presenting alongside A4L Miami’s Dia Carter Webb, Senior Program Director, and teaching artist Jennifer Puig.

Workshop Session: A3. More than a Feeling: Music, Art, and Social Emotional Learning, Thursday, March 26 – 10:15 am – 11:30 am


Over the past 30 years, Gail Zarren has served on many initiatives to cultivate utilization of arts for learning childhood education in Massachusetts. She is currently Program Director of Expanded Arts Access and Healing Arts for Kids at Young Audiences of Massachusetts. Gail is a licensed social worker, bringing this expertise to her work in creating and providing arts programs for underserved children. In 2013 she received Horizons for Homeless Children’s Sue Heilman Award for Excellence for her work designing and implementing Expanding Horizons Through Music, a program to strengthen literacy and social / emotional development among children attending Horizon’s preschool programs.

Gail will be presenting alongside her Young Audiences of Massachusetts colleague Liz Buchanan, MFA / M. Ed, a teaching artist and children’s music & literacy specialist.

Workshop Session: C1. Expanding Horizons Through Music, Thursday, March 26 – 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm