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Having spent the last ten years restlessly roving the planet, Melissa Schilling, a published writer and photographer, has spent time volunteering at an orphanage on the Mayan Riviera, riding bicycles through Patagonia, cooking Basque food in the Pais Vasco and deep-sea fishing off the coast of Cuba. Melissa speaks in sparkles. Her ideas are known to cause tremors of activity, and her movements cause ripples in those around her. Underneath her skin lies the spirit of Beryl Markham and the tongue of an auctioneer. She learned everything she knows from her mother and she’s proud to admit it.
After earning a B.A. in Communications and an M.S. in Soil Science, she launched her cheese and wine consulting entity, Praise Cheeses. She has been providing delight and education for Microsoft, Ebay, Yahoo, Hewlett Packard and Google, as well as teaching cooking classes to special needs children at a small art studio. She also regularly contributes food articles to Edible East Bay Magazine and the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper. When she’s not teaching, roller skating or knee deep in her garden, you can find Melissa Schilling capturing the fluidity of life through her photography site, MelissaSchilling.com
Jenni Ward is a sculptor, art instructor and owner of Earth Art Studio. In 2005, she opened Earth Art Studio; a sculpture studio offering clay and mixed media sculpture classes and workshops for children, teens and adults. Throughout her teaching career she has worked extensively with many youth and senior art programs. In addition to teaching she has been creating, showing and selling her own sculptures since graduating from University of Hartford-Hartford Art School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1998. She has exhibited her sculptures locally, nationally and participates in the Santa Cruz County Open Studios.
Jenni, a co-founder, is our Arts Education Director and the lead on our Visiting Artist Program and projects.
Contact Jenni Ward: email@example.com www.jenniward.com
THE ART TEACHER
Kathy came to teaching art by way of volunteering at her son’s kindergarten class in Sherman Oaks, CA. His public school had long since cut out art classes, so only students with parent volunteers were lucky enough to have any art at all. Many hardworking PTA parents came to the rescue, raised enough to pay for a teacher, and Kathy jumped at the chance. Her B.F.A. from the Minneapolis College of Arts & Design and 20 years in graphic design helped her bring a new twist to art projects for both her students, and then later her blog followers at www.artprojectsforkids.org. She now teaches weekly twenty K-5 classes and also conducts an after-school Art Enrichment program.
THE SOCIAL WORKER
Elizabeth Ancker has spent the last 5 years working with homeless families as a social worker in San Francisco and has been very active in the homeless community advocating for safe, clean shelters. She also has worked at the Thailand/Burma border doing disaster relief following the 2008 cyclone in Burma, and through her legal background has experience appealing and defending death penalty cases in the deep south. All of her human rights work has stemmed from a love of people and love of the world, so she has also made it a point to be dedicated to laughing, playing, and traveling as much as possible and has been very successful! She also loves all things sparkly, glittery and shiny.
Liz manages our federal and state grant applications and maintains our non-profit status.
Contact Liz Ancker: firstname.lastname@example.org
A fearless dreamer since birth, life continuously leads Aimee Gaines here and there in search of truth; and she never fails in finding beauty and wisdom in every step along the way. Equipped with degrees in environmental science, natural resource management and peace studies, she began her solo journey working with farmers as a Peace Corps volunteer in Haiti in 2001. Since then, Aimee has grown in many directions through her experiences working as an activist, community organizer and kindergarten teacher. Aimee gets her biggest kicks out of nature and is enthusiastic in finding ways to harmonize with it. On an ordinary day in Haiti, you may spot her cycling through shanty towns, doing yoga on rooftops, haggling in the marketplace and laughing with the locals. She’s most fulfilled by getting her hands dirty, helping things grow and by living and working in functional, cohesive community with others. Her strengths are in observing, understanding and leading by example. Aimee finds great inspiration in the sustainability movement and aims to apply and build upon her current knowledge of permaculture in all that she does. Despite being thrifty as hell, Aimee considers herself one of the richest people alive.
Contact Aimee Gaines: email@example.com
Ali manages our Annual Donor Dinner in San Francisco and keeps everyone on task and organized when it comes to creating new technology in the Arts and Sciences division.
Contact Ali Meechoovet: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stefanie Gesiorski lives to make others smile and laugh. Her first foray out of the US and into the world of service was a trip with Habitat for Humanity to dig ditches and distribute clean water to the squatters’ villages near Matamoros, Mexico, where she was promptly reprimanded by the trip leader for singing and clowning around with the locals to make them laugh. So of course Stefanie was thrilled to discover Project HOPE Art, where spreading joy and whimsy is not only tolerated, it’s the main goal of the project!
An accomplished seamstress and clothing/costume designer, Stefanie has produced and participated in multiple fashion performances in San Francisco as a driving force within the Cloud Factory Design Collective. Most of her time is currently spent writing, promoting and producing super fun events and fundraisers in the Bay Area, attempting to recreate delicious foods she has tasted in her travels, hatching and executing creative plans for whimsical adventure, and performing feats of strength in the great outdoors. Her most recent feat was successfully completing the 545-mile bicycle journey from SF to LA to raise awareness and funds for the fight against AIDS with AIDS/LifeCycle.
Stefanie manages the back end of most every project, perfecting outcomes and processes. She is also the instigator of impromptu dance parties that usually include tutus and the soundtrack to Xanadu.
Contact Stefanie Gesiorski: email@example.com
“Design like you give a damn” is a constant and fundamental philosophy shared by Elizabeth amongst a global community working on designing and building responses to humanitarian crises. Collaboration amongst multiple organizations and bringing varied resources together for such environments to thrive is at the core of how we make it work. Such collaboration spans the universe to converge such things as alternative construction, disco, composting toilets, social sculpture.
Elizabeth assembles ideas and transforms them into novel next steps in her assorted design projects. She has stretched into architectural, mechanical, industrial design and engineering realms as they pertain to environmentally and socially responsible fabrication and community building. Elizabeth collaborates with other artists, designers, scientists, engineers, and anyone else interested in the process, instilling the belief that our built environment is more effectively designed and implemented by interdisciplinary teams with the greater whole in mind.
She holds a B.Arch from Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles and strives to integrate safe shelter, clean water, sustainable food, and alternative energy systems into cohesive kits that work for places stricken by unexpected natural disaster, and to rebuild infrastructure in a modular way. Elizabeth currently is developing new ways for sustainable, modular construction to happen in Haiti and other countries where limited building materials is a challenge. Foldable desks where kids can draw and paint, vertical gardens that grow nourishing food along with providing a place to play, rainwater catchment system design, and alternative energy systems design with solar or gasifiers (energy from trash) are among some of the things she manages with HOPEArt.
E handles all of our technical drawings and gives a visual voice to most of the HOPE Art ideas and projects.
Contact Elizabeth Marley: firstname.lastname@example.org
If she were to be described in one word, it would be vibrant. Sarah Boll was born with a flare for the spectacular and the outrageous. In her early days she fell in love with the stage playing princesses in musicals. Nowadays she translates her creativity into fashion and performance at an array of striking events. Her portfolio includes costume design, catwalk displays and dramatic performances.
She earned her BA in Theater and Art and later studied Patternmaking and Design. Boll has worked in professional costume shops and designed for gift and accessory companies. She is one of the founding members of the San Francisco-based theater company the Primitive Screwheads, where she serves as a costume designer and performer. She is best known for her recurring role as the Sparkle Tossing Unicorn. She performs as a dancer with local bands and enjoys creating absurd spectacles with local variety shows. Dress up is her favorite activity and she believes people should wear costumes as much as possible.
Sarah coordinates Self-Expression and Empowerment Workshops through textile design for HOPE Art and can’t wait to make fabric party hats with all the girls at OJFA.
Contact Sarah Boll: email@example.com
Jesse’s passion for economics began to develop in high school under the tutelage of an Irish teacher famous for stating, “That’s life, and still we love it.” And whose favorite word is “Rubbish!” Jesse went on to attend Brigham Young University where he earned his BS in Economics with a Management minor.
After graduating, Jesse began working at the international economics consulting firm Charles River Associates. During his time in consulting he was able to gain experience working on projects in a wide variety of industries including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, real estate, finance, and technology. While consulting, Jesse earned an MS in Finance from the University of Utah.
Jesse currently works for CVS Caremark in Rhode Island where he develops and implements innovative healthcare solutions. In his spare time, he enjoys having adventures and learning about foreign cultures. His adventures have taken him throughout the Americas including Canada, the United States, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Ecuador, and the Caribbean.
Contact Jesse Rich: firstname.lastname@example.org