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About Us

We transform the lives of young people through the arts.

Student sings on stage with his arm joyously outstretched

Our Story

Founded to help young people develop agency, build critical life skills, and experience the joy of creative expression

In 2006, a group of motivated Juilliard students joined forces with Broadway musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell to found Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), created with the belief that every young person has a story and a voice that deserves to be heard.

In 2021, after 15 years of delivering arts programming in the United States and around the world as ASTEP, the organization stepped into its next stage of growth as Arts Ignite. The name is new, but the passion is the same: to help young people find their voice through the joy and potency of making art.

Team

Mary-Mitchell Campbell

Mary-Mitchell Campbell

President & Founder

(she/her/hers)

Mary-Mitchell has had an extensive career as a musician and humanitarian. In 2005 she founded Arts Ignite with some of her Juilliard students, and she recently transitioned as the Executive Director to the position of President. She has traveled the world using arts education as a way to inspire young people to pursue higher education. She has been the Music Supervisor/Music Director for eleven Broadway shows and conducts orchestras in concerts around the country. She is passionate about the power of arts education to transform the lives of young people. 

Carl Sylvestre

Carl Sylvestre

Executive Director

(he/him/his)

Carl Sylvestre is an accomplished arts executive with 20+ years of experience creating impact in organizations through advocacy, strategic management, program and policy development, and fundraising. He is a strong believer that arts and culture change lives.  From 2014 to 2021 he served as the Director of Development at Theatre Forward, providing funding and program support to many of the U.S. leading regional theatres.  As a management consultant, he has advised and supported a variety of New York non-profits in the arts and social services sectors including New York City Mission Society, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Friends of The High Line among others.  Carl has served as the Director of External Affairs at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Director of Planning and Development at New York Theatre Workshop, and other fundraising and management positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Opera. He served as Board President of the Robert Giard Foundation (2010-2018).  Carl has an M.B.A from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, an M.A. in Theatre from Hunter College and a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Culture from Columbia University.  A proud recipient of a New York City Council Citation for philanthropic and community service.  

Lindsay Roberts Greene

Lindsay Roberts Greene

Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Operations

(she/her/hers)

With the motto “artistry onstage and off!,” Lindsay Roberts Greene is deeply rooted in the arts and arts education. For over ten years, Lindsay partnered with Arts Ignite in a varied capacity, supporting fundraising goals, strategic visioning, and working in the classroom as a teaching artist. She now proudly serves as the Deputy Executive Director with oversight over all programs, partnerships, teaching artist services, and curriculum and evaluation. Lindsay is a Certified Diversity Professional through the National Diversity Council and specializes in culturally responsive arts education and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the arts sector. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Maryland in Opera/Vocal Performance with a concentration in Music Education and a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University and holds graduate certificates from both Cornell University and Umass Amherst. Her performance credits include multiple television appearances, recordings, and onstage productions and was recently seen in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. 

Jared Cavazos

Program Manager

(he/him/his)

Jared Cavazos is a musician with over eight years of arts education and administration experience. After graduating from Stanford University in 2015 with a B.A. in Music with concentrations in Composition and Conducting, he worked as a music director and pit musician for various theatre companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2022, he earned a Master’s degree in Music Theory and Composition at New York University, where he led Latiné diversity and equity initiatives in the arts. He is excited to continue this work in New York City and abroad as a Program Manager at Arts Ignite.

Marie Klepacz

Program Manager

(she/her/hers)

Marie Klepacz is Arts Ignite’s Program Manager and a former special educator. Originally from Danbury, Connecticut, Marie served two years as an Americorps volunteer and a Teach for America Corps Member. Marie’s experience working with students who have learning exceptionalities in an underrepresented community propelled her to better understand the deep-rooted issues of inequity in education. This motivation led to her earning her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Teaching from Boston University. Marie’s professional philosophy is that building positive relationships based on trust and compassion is at the core of progress in education and nonprofit work. Marie’s passion for the arts and helping youth build agency and confidence through their self-expression is what makes her so excited to be a part of the Arts Ignite Team.

Justin Beck headshot

Justin Beck

Business and Operations Associate

he/him

Justin is thrilled to join the incredible team at Arts Ignite as the Business and Operations Associate.  He has spent the past six years working in operations first for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and more recently in New York City schools both for Avenues: The World School and the Washington Heights and Inwood Music Community Charter School.  An Austin native, he studied opera performance at the University of Texas in Austin before moving to Manhattan in 2005 to pursue his career as a concert soloist and opera singer.  He is currently a choral ringer and soloist with the West Village Chorale and choral scholar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  He has also been the bass soloist with the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s summer classical music festival since 2014.  He lives in Washington Heights with his wife and daughter.

Siyu Duan

Program Fellow

(she/her/hers)

Siyu started at Arts Ignite this fall as Program Fellow while completing her master’s degree in social work at Columbia University. As an international student from China, Siyu has a strong passion for nonprofit operations and program planning, specifically focusing on children and teenagers. From her previous experiences, she has extensively worked with children, delivering social-emotional learning and providing mental health support. By joining Arts Ignite, she envisions supporting children in building positive well-being through art. She is eager to learn, explore, and create more positive impacts to the lives of young people at Arts Ignite.

Board of Directors

Sheri Sarkisian

Chair

(she/her/hers)

Sheri Sarkisian is a Vice President and Senior Compliance Officer at Goldman Sachs. She is also a member of the Goldman Sachs Disability Network Steering Committee. Sheri is the current Board Chair and has been on the board of directors of Arts Ignite since 2015, and previously served as the Board Treasurer. Sheri participates on the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Fundraising Committee, and Governance and Nominating Committee. Sheri has a B.S. in business administration from Northeastern University. She is passionate about the arts and serving children.

Laura Chittick

Laura Chittick

Vice Chair

(she/her/hers)

Laura Chittick is a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Chase.  She provides healthcare companies with corporate banking solutions, from financing to treasury services.  Her prior experience includes structured finance and equity derivatives.  Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.  She lives in NYC with her husband and two teenagers.    

Mark Canavera

Mark Canavera

Secretary

Mark Canavera is the co-director of the Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Network, an entity at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health supporting the next generation of researchers and advocates for children and families worldwide. Mark joined the CPC Learning Network after many years working as a humanitarian aid and development worker in West Africa. He has worked in over 20 countries with a variety of agencies, including Save the Children, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Oxfam. His work has spanned efforts to support children formerly associated with armed groups in northern Uganda, gun control in Senegal, girls’ education promotion in Burkina Faso, and child welfare system reform in Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Benin, Senegal, and Cameroon. He holds Master’s degrees in Peace Studies from Notre Dame and Public Policy from Harvard and serves on the faculty at Columbia University.  He is a founding board member of Arts Ignite and also co-founded the Rustin Fund for Global Equality, a non-profit that mobilizes political and financial support for LGBTI grassroots groups around the world.

Rob Gursha

Co-Treasurer

Rob is a proven business leader with extensive experience in media, publishing companies and non-profits. He has led strategy, financial, consumer marketing, sales, and digital teams in building brands, launching products, driving new customer and audience growth through both in digital and traditional sales channels, and generating higher revenue through 3rd party partnership programs. Rob started his career with a Big 8 accounting firm and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a B.S. degree in Business Administration.

Jacob Hadad

Jacob Hadad

Co-Treasurer

(he/him/his)

Jacob is the owner and managing director of Wesfair, a financial advisory and independent insurance agency. Over the years Jacob has practiced as a CPA both publicly and privately at Ernst & Young and Apollo Global Management. These various roles within the financial industry provides Jacob with a unique professional experience as it relates to operations, financial analysis, and risk & control management/mitigation. Jacob joined Arts Ignite in August 2019 and is currently a member of the Finance Committee. His interest in arts and education stem from the success his spouse has had teaching performing arts to inner city youth in NYC charter schools. Providing children with access to the arts is a vital mission that Jacob is passionate about pursuing with Arts Ignite.

Simona Boroianu

Dr. Simona Boroianu completed her Ed.D. at the University of Northern Iowa, and she is currently serving in a leadership role as the Dual Language Immersion and Second Language Learner Program Coordinator in the Waterloo Community Schools District. As a culturally diverse individual with extensive teaching experience, Simona works with the teachers and administrators of culturally and linguistically diverse learners on improving the quality of education and promoting equitable access to educational opportunities for every student, within a systems approach. She has expertise in curriculum design and assessment, student-centered pedagogical practices, as well as strategic planning and programming skills that she applies to mentoring, coaching and advising.

In her current role, Simona support teachers to become effective and reflective practitioners in their diverse classrooms by developing and facilitating professional development that focuses on practices such as differentiation, interdisciplinary teaching, writing across the curriculum, co-teaching techniques, as well as building empathy for all learners.

In the same capacity, she collaborates with district leaders, administrators, program coordinators and content area coaches on the development and implementation of specific district and building improvement plans in order to support equitable access to education for all students in general and underrepresented groups in particular, provide culturally relevant instruction, accurately identify and address academic needs, improve student attendance, and increase graduation rate.

Karey Edwards Headshot

Karey Edwards

Karey is COO and Creative Director for INSIGHT, a groundbreaking framework rooted in self-inquiry and practice that amplifies and awakens emotional intelligence and generates higher perception and mental acuity.  She is a connector and harmonizer who has built and transformed organizational behavior and operations functions across digital product and technology disciplines at Condé Nast, The College Board, Ralph Lauren, WW, and more.  Karey received her BS from The University of Colorado in Information Systems.  She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, Oneil, and rescue dog, Goldie.  Karey is passionate about creative expression and creating spaces where everyone is awakened to their true, authentic selves and realize joy and love in their work.

Steven Farkas

Steven Farkas

(he/him/his)

Steve Farkas, CFA, is a Director within the Fundamental Active Equities Team at BlackRock, where he has worked for the past 13 years. He has served on the Arts Ignite board for over three years, has chaired the finance committee for the past year, and serves as the Board Treasurer. His passion for being involved in Arts Ignite stems from seeing firsthand the ability of the arts to transform the lives of others. He currently resides in Manhattan with his dog, Frankie. Steve graduated cum laude with a BS in Finance from Tulane University in 2008. Steven is a CFA Charterholder and is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA).

Sameer Garg

Sameer Garg

(he/him/his)

Sameer Garg is a Managing Director of Aerospace and Defense at Citi. Over his 15+ year career, Sameer has executed a number of transactions advising public and private companies, and financial sponsors on a variety of strategic initiatives including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and capital raising transactions. Prior to Citi, he was Managing Director in the Aerospace, Defense and Government Services Group at RBC Capital Markets and Vice President at Deutsche Bank focused on the Aerospace and Defense sector. Sameer began his career as a propulsion engineer for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where he focused on designing propulsion systems for low earth orbit missions. In that capacity, he also served as an evaluation board member of the Small Business Innovative Research organization. Sameer currently serves on the board of New York City-based non-profit, Arts Ignite. He earned his MBA from University of Virginia in Finance and Accounting and his B.S. from The University of Texas at Austin in Aerospace Engineering.

Floyd W. Green, III

Floyd is a philanthropist and founder of What a Concept LLC, a company focused on creating wow moments through strategic collaborations. In 2021, he retired as Vice President of Community Affairs from Aetna, a CVS Health company. He advocates the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math (STEAM) nationally and speaks on Strategic Philanthropy, Cultural Consciousness, and Marketing to Diverse Consumers. Floyd is the recipient of many professional and civic awards, including Black Doctors.org and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions’ 45 most influential Blacks in Healthcare, the CT Governor’s Patron of the Arts award, the National Council of Community and Justice’ Human Relations award, the Bushnell’s Yandow Award for Arts Education, and the OnCon Icon Top Marketer Award recognizing the top marketers in the world. He is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and the Executive Leadership Council and a lifetime member of the National Black MBA and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. Floyd graduated from Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, with a BS in History/Public Affairs. He received his MBA in Marketing/Strategy from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, Malibu, California. Currently a doctoral student at the University of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, focusing on Arts Education.

Jeffrey Korn

Jeffrey Korn

(he/him/his)

Jeffrey B. Korn is a partner in the Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the Antitrust & Competition Practice Group. His practice focuses on antitrust litigation and counseling, securities litigation, M&A litigation and other complex business law disputes. He has represented a wide range of clients including public and private companies, their officers and directors, mutual funds, private equity funds, hedge funds and securities underwriters in both state and federal courts and before the antitrust and securities enforcement agencies.

Dick Scanlan

Dick Scanlan is a writer/director who’s worked on Broadway and around the world, including the book and lyrics to the Tony Award-winning musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Current projects include a commission from the Metropolitan Opera.  He has also written numerous essays and articles, and the novel, Does Freddy Dance.  He is the founder of artsINSIDEOUT, an arts outreach organization working with the mothers and children infected/affected by HIV/AIDS in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Henry Sham

Henry Sham

(he/him/his)

Henry Sham is a Managing Director and Head of CIBC’s US Investment Banking Financial Institutions Group, advising financial institutions and financial technology companies on M&A and capital raising efforts. Prior to joining CIBC, he was a Managing Director at Barclays and was previously with Lehman Brothers. Henry earned his MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business, with distinction, and graduated from Binghamton University. Henry serves on the board of Arts Ignite, with the strong belief that arts enrichment and education are critical for all youth to improve their lives and their communities.

Dipti Verma

Dipti Verma

(she/her/hers)

Dipti Verma is Director of Market Data at S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI) based in New York. She is the Global lead for the Fixed Income Data management team that supports terms & conditions and pricing data, credit ratings, interest rates, ESG, credit default swaps, and debt capital structure. Her areas of focus are seamless delivery of content across all SPGMI products for IM/IB/Corporate clients, managing vendors, conflict resolution while dealing with multiple deliverables for product, content, technology & incorporating client feedback for continuous innovation. Her 20 years of global experience in financial services & banking positions her well at handling ambiguous projects, negotiating with challenging stakeholders & successfully delivering tangible products to the end-customer. Prior to joining S&P Global in 2010, she worked in various capacities at Merck, ABN Amro Bank & GMAC Mortgage. The mission of Arts Ignite resonates with her & bridges two causes close to her heart – children and the arts. In addition to indulging in random acts of kindness, she looks forward to Arts Ignite providing a framework that enables her to give back to the community in a more meaningful manner. She strongly believes working towards furthering the well-being and development of the under-privileged communities, especially younger people, ensures we all have a better future.

Honorary Board

Richard Jay Alexander – Broadway Actor, Director, Producer
Laura Benanti – Tony/Drama Desk/Outer Critics Circle Award-winning Broadway Actress/TV Actress
Sierra Boggess – Broadway.com Audience Award-winning Theater Actress and Soprano Singer
Kristin Chenoweth – Tony/Drama Desk Award-winning Broadway Star/TV & Movie Actress
Gavin Creel – Tony-nominated Broadway Actor/Musician
John Doyle – Tony/Drama Desk Award-winning Broadway Director
Raul Esparza – Tony-nominated Broadway Actor/TV Actor
Cyndi Lauper – Tony/Grammy Award-winning Singer/Theater Actress
Stephen Oremus – Tony/Grammy/Drama Desk Award-winning musical director/orchestrator


Supporters, Partners & Affiliates

We’re grateful for the continued support of individuals, foundations, corporations, and organizations who believe in the transformative power of the arts!

 

  • Atlantic Philanthropies
  • American Express
  • BlackRock Gives
  • BLICK Art Materials
  • Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
  • Common Sense Fund
  • Community Foundation of Greenville
  • Dickinson Family Foundation
  • Diva Living Trust
  • J. C. Flowers Foundation
  • Genesee Mountain Foundation
  • Goldman Sachs
  • William and Mary Greve Foundation
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Juilliard School of Performing Arts
  • Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation
  • Mai Family Foundation
  • Monterey International Pop Festival
  • Music Man Foundation
  • Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
  • New York State Council of the Arts
  • Carol and Melvin Newman Family Foundation
  • RBC Foundation USA
  • RSM US Foundation
  • Select Equity Group Foundation
  • Seller-Lehrer Family Foundation
  • Schloss Family Foundation
  • Sills Family Foundation
  • TranslationServices.com
  • Laura B. Vogler Foundation
  • Wesfair Agency
  • Youth INC
  • Abraham House
  • Circles of Support
  • Church of the Heavenly Rest
  • EnFamilia
  • Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Lutheran Social Services
  • Nkosi’s Haven
  • NYC Arts in Education Roundtable
  • Passages Academy
  • Shanti Bhavan
  • Waterloo Community School District
  • Win
  • 123 Andrés
  • Asked By Kids
  • BKBX
  • Concerts for Compassion
  • MUSE
  • MAESTRA
  • Vasthy & Friends

Land Acknowledgment

Arts Ignite acknowledges that our offices occupy the unceded land of the Munsee Lenape people.


Arts Ignite led a Community Event with long time partner, Win, to celebrate the Creative Activity Kits initiative, promoting togetherness, team building, and fun! “We see growth in their social-emotional learning,” said Lindsay Roberts, Director of Programs at Arts Ignite. ‘And the way they build a sense of community with each other, With their bravery.”…

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