Staff

Heather Martin

Heather Martin, Founding Director

Christiana Castillo, Education Director

Jasdeep Kler

Jasdeep Kler, Evaluation Director

Lucy Cahill, Creative Director

Sarah Unrath, Art Coordinator

Heather Martin, Founding Director

Heather Martin holds a Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. Heather has extensive experience in the coordination and management of innovative, creative arts programming. She has facilitated hundreds of creative arts workshops for youth and adults involved and impacted by the criminal justice system. Additionally, she leads training on best-practices for creative arts interventions/collaborations to activate personal transformation and collaboration for community change. Heather founded Youth Arts Alliance in an effort to establish opportunities for creative expression in the juvenile justice system.

Christiana Castillo, Education Director

Christiana Castillo is a Mexican-Brasilian-American educator, poet, and gardener born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil and based out of the greater Detroit area living on Anishinaabe land. She holds a Master of Arts in secondary education from the The University of Michigan with a focus on English and English as Second Language. Her chapbook, Crushed Marigold, was published in 2020 with Flower Press. Castillo is committed to learning with and from youth, and amplifying their voices. 

Jasdeep Kler, Evaluation Director

Jasdeep holds a Master’s of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan. As a student, he had the opportunity to work with the Center for Healthy Minds, where he developed a passion for mindfulness. He is now bringing his knowledge and skills working with youth to incorporate trauma-informed mindfulness into his workshops. He is also using his public health background to assist in program development, evaluation, and reporting.

Lucy Cahill, Creative Director

Lucy Cahill is a lifelong visual artist and craft maker, specializing in illustration and concert poster design. Her work has spanned themes such as the feminine body, mass consumerism, and the visual motifs of mid century print media, and reflects an introspective yet interrogative artistic inner voice. Her past work in curation and arts administration has informed her role as YAA’s Creative Director, where she commits to centering youth experiences and youth creative visions by amplifying their ideas to reach broader audiences. 

Sarah Unrath, Art Coordinator

Sarah is a community artist and creative facilitator in Dexter, Mi. She holds a Master’s of Arts in Art Education degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art & Design from the University of Michigan. Sarah has dedicated her life to advocating for creative opportunities and space for people who have been socially excluded or relegated by society. She believes that art is a powerful catalyst for their voices & stories to be heard.  Sarah has facilitated creative arts workshops and arts integration trainings all over the country. She now has the privilege to join YAA as they lift up the voices of young artists across MI.

Teaching Artists

Seth Bernard

Gail Christofferson

Gail Christofferson

Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

Estar Cohen

Emily Griswold

Emily Griswold

Jordan Hamilton

Lavinia Hanachiuc

Stephanie Howells

Stephanie Howells

Akili Jackson

Akili Jackson

Kana Kubota

Kana Kubota

Imani Lateef

Yusuf Abdul Lateef

Yusuf Abdul Lateef

John Leyland

John Leyland

Josh McDaniel

Sicily McRaven

Jen Munford

Madelyn Porter

Madelyn Porter

Jennifer Quartararo

Jennifer Quartararo

Jenna Spinei

Jenna Spinei

Shazia Siddiqi

Shazia Siddiqi

Isaac Wingfield

Emily Zheutlin

Emily Zheutlin

Seth Bernard

Seth Bernard’s journey—from potent young Interlochen Center for the Arts idealist to iconic troubadour of the Great Lakes region—has been rooted in the woods and water, soil and soul of Michigan. Born on Earthwork Farm in Lake City on April Fools Day 1980, Bernard has been playing the trickster-bard ever since. 

Seth came to an understanding early that music, poetry and art, along with activism, farming and earth science, all intertwine into one great work. Probably because of the crowded farm dinner table, where books of poetry, tapes of jazz, blues, rock n’ roll and traditional music, guests of all kinds, and even the occasional raptor being rehabbed all shared space. Some folks call this “folklife,” and in Seth’s music it’s as likely to show up through a Casio SK-1 or a Gretsch electric as much as a fiddle or high harmony. 

Like a true old-school folkie, he writes and plays the songs because they mean something, and that something they mean drives a life beyond just playing songs.

Gail Christofferson

Gail is a full time artist coming from a commercial art form, design, and marketing background. Her current success with mosaic artwork has enabled her to move from the design field to pursue mosaic art full time; she calls herself an artrepreneur. Her community mosaic projects draw in participants to work collaboratively to create large-scale mosaic installations, resulting in the unique sense of ownership and pride that comes from seeing their individual contributions blossom into a finished piece of art. “The final reward to my work is seeing the effects of the mosaic process on participants. The shattered glass is like the broken parts of their lives and yet even with splintered pieces, they can create a new beautiful whole, and a new image of themselves and their lives.”

Ben Cohen

Benjamin Cohen is a composer, musician and educator. He has traveled the country with various music projects, composed music for film and television and has taught the art of music production and beat-making to people of all ages all over the United States. He a founder of the experimental electronic Jazz collective HEAVY COLOR and the Midwestern Nostalgic Folk Group The Antivillains. His music has been featured on AllMusic.com, Detroit Metro Times, Time Out New York and WNYC.

Estar Cohen

Estar Cohen is a musician and educator specializing in voice, improvisation, and composition. As a bandleader and vocalist, she has toured the United States with her original Jazz ensemble, gaining recognition for her compositions by the ASCAP Foundation, the International Society of Jazz Composers and Arrangers, and the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Series. Cohen’s core values in teaching center on mindful, creative practices that focus on the needs of each artist as an individual. In addition to her work as a musician, she is a comedic improviser, sketch actor, and teacher; the values of both art forms supporting each with a strong foundation for listening, collaboration, and presentness. Her work with young artists has been fostered by Earthwork Music, Young Artists at Work, the Faber Institute of Ann Arbor, and Youth Arts Alliance. 

Emily Griswold

Emily is a passionate farmer, mother, wife, yoga instructor and Farmers Market Coordinator in the Chelsea community. She is dedicated to creating environments where humans get to connect to their food shed, connect to their bodies, and connect with each other. Emily is very committed to helping youth find both internal and external empathy and create change for their own and others lives.

Jordan Hamilton

Cellist and vocalist Jordan Hamilton merges musical styles to tell stories of the human experience through a variety of musical genres. A member of Last Gasp Collective and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Jordan can be found performing primarily in the Midwest where he has opened for national acts such as Eric Roberson and Nappy Roots. His most recent release “Vibrations” is a compilation of feelings expressed in sound with no words.

Lavinia Hanachiuc

Lavinia Hanachiuc (1974) is a Romanian-born ceramic and mixed media artist.

Hanachiuc’s was first introduced to the arts through communist party “pioneer” clubs as a young student, where she fulfilled her participation requirements by submitting graphic designs for propagandistic graphic art competitions. The artist’s youth was typical of the era, primarily defined by the political and cultural forces of Marxist communism – with no access to European television, film or music, and only very limited access to western literature. Hanachiuc also experienced the social and economic constraints of the time, which forced individuals to strictly self-censor their ideas and opinions in public—and to endure extreme shortages of necessary items including food and fuel.

At age 14, the artist was identified for admission to a fine arts high school. She specialized in etching and printmaking and experimented with large scale ceramic sculpture. Her high school years coincided with the fall of Romania’s dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Hanachiuc was among the first generation of young artists to enter the highly competitive Bucharest University of Fine Arts during the post-communist era.

The artist’s focused changed to ceramic arts during her university years, where she was influenced by the study of primitive art from early cultures, medieval motifs, and Russian and Turkish folk lore. These themes continue to be found in her work. For the first time, the new political freedoms allowed for Hanachiuc to participate also in group happenings and installations that highlighted social concerns such as the plight of artists in the country and homelessness.

Hanachiuc has resided in the United States since 2011 and has continued to create fine art ceramics, production pottery, and fine art photography. She has exhibited locally and internationally. The artist recently returned from an extended residency in the Eastern Icelandic Fjords .

Lavinia Hanachiuc currently lives in  Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Stephanie Howells

Stephanie is visual artist, teacher and community arts curator based in Detroit. With a BA from WSU in Psychology and Art, Stephanie often incorporates art therapy approaches to facilitate positive coping skills and general self-development. She has 9 years of experience working with young people of all ages, in classrooms, after-school programs, hospital settings and in residential care facilities. Stephanie uses art as a tool to help youth explore themselves and understand the world around them. In her personal practice Stephanie is an installation artist and has curated community exhibitions that link art, healing and collective struggle as a way to preserve space to creatively process injustices and reflect the wisdom and resilience of one another.

Akili Jackson

Akili Jackson is a Consultant, Instructor and Community Activist- He is on the front-line in the movement towards innovative ways of enhancing the quality of education for children in Southeast Michigan. He has over 10 years experience as a Youth Development Worker specializing in programs that inspire positive character development in youth. As an advocate for community based programs, Akili has participated in and coordinated groundbreaking urban projects that served to motivate parents, and inspire youth to become forces for positive change in their communities. Akili has conducted workshops in Community Education using Hip Hop music as a tool for classrooms in Columbus OH, Atlanta GA, and Manhattan NYC. Akili has presented as a frequent guest speaker for the National African American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID) and a panelist/speaker at Antioch University, University of Pittsburg, and University of Windsor Law School. He has served as a guest lecturer at Washtenaw Community College for African Poetry and Literature and at Eastern Michigan University for “Building Effective Classroom Communities”. Currently Akili serves as a founding member and Chief Development and Learning Officer for Community Records L3C an organization dedicated to building community activism through music.

Kana Kubota

Kana is a poet and visual artist with a focus on altered art books and found poetry. She is a founding YAA teaching artist and deeply values her collaborations with youth in creative writing, altered art books, and other expressive arts practices. Kana believes art creates space for emotional healing and self-discovery, and is thrilled to be working with YAA!

Imani Lateef

Imani Lateef is an award-winning graphic designer and poet, specializing in newspaper/editorial design and logo design. He is the owner of PeepGameComix.com, an e-commerce website specializing in digital comic books by Black comic book creators and publishers. 

In 2016, he won second place in the University of Toledo’s Pitch and Pour business pitch competition for his e-commerce business. 

In 2017 he sponsored Toledo’s first Black Comic Book Festival in partnership with The Toledo Lucas County Public Library.

Currently Imani has created Joon Bug’s World, a series of comic book workshops and events that teach creative children how to bring their stories to life with the help of sequential art.

Yusuf Abdul Lateef

Yusuf Lateef is a visual artist that works collaboratively to create positive and vibrant murals for neighborhoods in the mid­west and abroad. He earned his BFA in the field of painting and drawing from the Columbus College of Art and Design. Since then, he has completed over 16 murals including projects for Toledo Public Schools, The Toledo Fair Housing Authority and Bowling Green State University. With his guidance, participants are able to share their thoughts and aspirations while learning about the fundamental elements of painting.

John Leyland

John is a native Pennsylvanian and grew up just outside the Pittsburgh area. A former bench jeweler and diamond setter for 15 years, he left the jewelry industry and pursued his BFA in ceramics starting at Penn State University and then completed his Bachelor’s Degree at Slippery Rock University in 1994. In 2001, John completed his MFA in Ceramics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 2003 John accepted a position as Ceramic Studio Coordinator for the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design. He held this position for 17 years and has recently retired this past year. He is on the board of Ceramic Water Filter Solutions and collaborates with groups from countries in Africa, Nepal, and Central America. These collaborations empower local peoples to develop small ceramic filter making centers in their communities, that will bring clean water and better health to many families from these regions.

Josh McDaniel

Josh is an improvisational actor and educator, performing with Go Comedy’s Dragon Army resident team and various other improv troupes in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area. He’s also a graduate of the Pointless School of Improv program and has written sketch comedy both independently and through the Planet Ant Theater. As an educator he’s worked as a tutor, a teacher in both school and home settings, and as a summer camp program director for over ten years. Josh enjoys creating stories and jokes with others and is always ready for a game Dungeons and Dragons.

Sicily McRaven

Sicily Amaris McRaven is a fibers and drawing installation artist, community arts facilitator, and activist working to move the conversation forward in her own right, on radical sobriety, social-behavioral/communication-based health, and art as social practice. Sicily graduated in 2011 from Wayne State’s dual degree program Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in Education and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Fiber Arts and a minor in Social Sciences. Deeply inspired by growth found in the natural world in our bodies, flora, fauna, and the social structures we create for them, her work explores the systematic themes found within the condition of the earthly experience. 

Jen Munford

Jen Munford is a California-born tattooer and artist calling Michigan home since 2008. Jen loves to experiment across visual mediums, with primary interests in relief printmaking, creating zines, and drawing. Core inspirations for Jen’s work are mythology and symbolism, spiritual and emotional experience, and nature (especially bodies of water). Jen has been tattooing professionally since 2005 and opened their private Ann Arbor studio, Three Bird Tattoo in 2016.

Madelyn Porter

Madelyn Porter is a member of Actor’s Equity Association (AEA), and has worked in professional theatre for over thirty years. She currently performs Storyliving for Detroit Historical Museum, The Henry Ford, and Troy Historical Society. Porter is lead instructor for Michigan Opera Theatre’s Create and Perform, House Manager for Detroit Public Theatre, and tours a series of One-Woman Shows on a regular basis. She believes that “Theatre is a powerful art form to reach one and teach one.”

Jennifer Quartararo

Jennifer is a Detroit-based writer where her focus is on creative nonfiction as well as hybrid work that combines both image + text. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Northern Michigan University, and also teaches with InsideOut Literary Arts where she helps to excite and instill elementary school students with a love of words. She understands what a pivotal role writing plays in youth finding their voices, and her teaching focuses on building empathy and a sense of self through the power of the written word.

Jenna Spinei

Jenna is a performer, educator, choreographer and movement therapist. She has worked and studied in Ireland, England and the United States, obtaining a Movement Science BS from the University of Michigan and Dance Movement Psychotherapy MA from Goldsmiths, University of London, England. Her mission is to empower, inform and inspire individuals and communities through movement and the arts.

Shazia Siddiqi

Shazia is a licensed professional counselor and board certified art therapist who graduated with an MA in counseling and art therapy from Wayne State University in 2011. She works with teens and young adults to help them recognize and utilize their strengths to heal and transform, as well as cope with obstacles along the way. She is involved with YAA because she believes so strongly in its mission to use creativity as a tool to alter potential.

Isaac Wingfield

Isaac Wingfield teaches photography in the Residential College at the University of Michigan. He completed his undergraduate studies at Appalachian State University and received an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to traditional college level photography courses his teaching has included building out a darkroom at a Title I elementary school, working at an alternative middle and high school, and teaching a photography-based workshop that brings together college students and incarcerated adults.

Emily Zheutlin

Emily, a Michigan native, has a Program in the Environment degree from the University of Michigan. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Environmental Health Sciences through the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her love and admiration for art came as a surprise during her sophomore year of college when she had to take a humanities course. The course happened to be partnered with Youth Arts Alliance. Having always loved working with children and listening to others, the course seemed perfect and eventually introduced her to the world of trauma-informed art healing. Her experience inspired her to continue working with YAA and a passion to continue this type of work in her future career.

Board

Jeanne Murabito, President

Jeanne Murabito, President

Gina Steffey, Vice President

Gina Steffey, Vice President

LaTonya Woods

LaTonya Woods, Secretary

Heidi Frankenhauser, Treasurer

Jasdeep Kler

Jasdeep Kler, Evaluation Director

Kyle Daniel-Bey, Board Member

Kyle Daniel-Bey, Board Member

Nichollette Hoard

Nichollette Hoard, Board Member

Zak Frieling, Board Member

Lucie Howell, Board Member

Jeanne Murabito, President

Jeanne Murabito is Executive Director for Student Affairs in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She received her B.A. in Humanistic Studies from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame; studied in Rome, Italy through Loyola University, received her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University, and completed all Ph.D. coursework in Higher Education Administration from St. Louis University. Ms. Murabito has 30 years of experience in Higher Education Administration and prior to joining the University of Michigan she served as Dean of Academic Services at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, MO. Ms. Murabito directs the units that comprise Student Affairs: the Engineering Advising Center, the Engineering Career Resource Center, Recruitment and Admissions, the Engineering Learning Center, the Scholarship Efforts in the College, Records and Assessment, Student Support, and all student organizations and activities within the college.  She founded the Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ), an outreach site in Detroit providing exposure for Detroit High School students to STEM fields. The centerpiece of the MEZ is the FIRST Robotics Program, engaging 350+ students a year in a collective build site in Detroit’s Midtown. In 2018, Jeanne collaborated with Qualcomm to develop a Thinkabit Lab at the MEZ, which provides a unique, hands-on STEM experience for middle school field trips during the school year as well as summer camps. Jeanne serves on the board for FIRST in Michigan, is a member of the Dean’s Cabinet, and serves as the point person in the College for issues involving students. She has received the Excellence in Staff Service Award and the Judith A. Pitney Career Award from the College of Engineering, and various recognitions for her service to students through Tau Beta Pi, Epeians, the Spirit of Detroit Award, and most recently, the Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award.

Gina Steffey, Vice President

Gina holds a limited license Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. She works in Community Mental Health for Washtenaw County, and has experience as a probation officer for the Washtenaw County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court. She recognizes the multitude of shortcomings within the juvenile justice system and is passionate about making changes.

LaTonya Woods, Secretary

LaTonya Woods has enjoyed a portfolio career. Holding a bachelor’s in business administration from Eastern Michigan University, she began her collegiate career at the University of Michigan in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance with a major in viola performance and education. She currently works for the University of Michigan as a senior business systems analyst in the Information and Technology Services department. As a violinist and violist, she has performed with Grammy award winning artists, spanning the genres of classical, R&B and gospel, including Stevie Wonder, Midori and Marvin Winans. She is featured on recordings with critically acclaimed gospel artists, Donnie McClurkin, Richard Smallwood and has performed with award winning, Detroit based world music ensemble, Musique Noire. She continues to perform throughout the metro Detroit area, has been a member of Dexter Community and Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestras. A passionate music educator and administrator, she has served as an instructor in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and on the faculty of the Sphinx (Organization) Preparatory Program and Michigan State University Community Music School of Detroit. In her administrative capacities, she has worked with the Sphinx Organization and Willis Patterson’s Our Own Thing – a nonprofit organization for which she volunteers as the administrative director. She currently serves on the boards of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance Alumni Association, and the University of Michigan Medical School Institutional Review Board (IRBMED). She is inspired and invigorated by YAA’s mission and active community engagement, and is eager to bring her experience and passion to the organization.

Heidi Frankenhauser, Treasurer

Heidi Frankenhauser currently serves as the Deputy Director for the Michigan Center for Youth Justice, a statewide, justice advocacy reform organization. She has a masters degree in clinical psychology and a B.A. in art and psychology. Heidi has a breadth of experience in the nonprofit and service sectors and has worked with many groups, including youth, incarcerated artists, homeless families, and veterans. Her passion for justice reform and healing art spaces began over a decade ago when she served as a facilitator for  a visual arts workshop for incarcerated women (with the Prison Creative Arts Project). Outside of her professional life, Heidi is an avid gardener, yogi, writer and visual artist, as well as a proud parent to a creative, spirited child.

Jasdeep Kler, Evaluation Director

Jasdeep holds a Master’s of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan. As a student, he had the opportunity to work with the Center for Healthy Minds, where he developed a passion for mindfulness. He is now bringing his knowledge and skills working with youth to incorporate trauma-informed mindfulness into his workshops. He is also using his public health background to assist in program development, evaluation, and reporting.

Kyle Daniel-Bey, Board Member

Kyle D Daniel-Bey is an artist, published author/poet and formerly incarcerated individual. His passion for art & advocacy for youth who have or may come into contact with the criminal justice system are equal. Having been incarcerated as a youth, he understands some of the pressures young people face & wants to help in whatever capacity available.

Nichollette Hoard, Board Member

Nichollette Hoard works in the Juvenile Delinquency Division at the Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender, where she has been for over ten years, and served as an attorney for four years. She sees Criminal Defense work through a different lens and fully understands that any reform to our justice system starts with juvenile work. Her work is centered on restoring and assisting young people from a holistic perspective; addressing their behavior and legal troubles but also mental health issues, self-esteem empowerment, family support, housing, and education/employment. She finds being the voice of young people as truly an honor. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Detroit Mercy, and a J.D. and LL.M. from Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Zak Frieling, Board Member

Zachary Frieling is an artist, musician and educator based in Detroit, MI, and graduate of the College for Creative Studies with a dual major in Illustration and Art Education. He has enjoyed teaching students of all ages throughout Southeast Michigan, facilitating and coordinating projects in all ranges of materials, with a primary focus on printmaking, photography, ceramics and collage. This includes working with students of all ages, a variety of human service agencies, and the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in his role as Studio Coordinator at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He considers it an honor to introduce new techniques, skills, and ways of thinking to artists looking for new forms of expression and connection.”

Lucie Howell, Board Member

Lucie Howell is the Chief Learning Officer at the Henry Ford.  An engineer by head and an educator by heart, Lucie is focused on driving the Henry Ford learning philosophy of learning by doing through innovation education.  After 20 years working as a K-12 teacher, educational outreach and career development professional in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEAM (add the Arts), Lucie believes that it is authentic, inter-disciplinary opportunities that empower learners by allowing them to demonstrate their strengths while growing and developing new skills and expertise.  Learning powered by perspective, applied in the real world and shared equitably by all.