Heather Martin, Founding Director

Dawn Espy, Program Manager

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.

Dawn Espy, Program Manager

Originally from Detroit, Dawn now lives in Ypsilanti with their partner, two children and pets. Dawn comes from a family of educators and attended Vanderbilt University where they received a degree in psychology. Post graduation, Dawn worked in research, examining the experiences of adolescents and people of color as they navigated interactions with others, and the world. Dawn earned a Master’s in Psychology from the University of Michigan as they continued to explore racial identity development for black and multiracial individuals. Dawn has spent most of their adult life supporting youth and engaging in social justice and equity work.

Previously the manager of the Education Project for Homeless Youth, Dawn worked directly with young people through Ozone House in partnership with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. In this work they advocated for, supported, and facilitated supportive spaces for youth, especially for young people in the LGBTQIA+ community and those experiencing housing instability. Dawn’s passion for Social Justice is not only their work but a life-long practice. Dawn looks forward to continuing to cultivate supportive and healing spaces for youth through artistic expression and exploration.