Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt began her work in this community ten years ago as the executive director of Children’s Media Project. Since then, she rebranded the organization to Spark Media Project and implemented a number of impactful programs, including a service program for area libraries, an apprentice production house for community businesses, and an International Youth Film Festival. In January 2017, Nicole became executive director of both Mill Street Loft and Spark Media Project, and has worked with her team to create an even stronger, more focused arts education organization that deepens the quality of impact on local youth and advances a shared mission. Although she has roots in the Hudson Valley, Nicole’s humanities work began after gaining her degree in Professional and Technical Communication from Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1997, Nicole was a project manager for Long Island Progressive Coalition, where she organized campaigns for affordable housing, increased health care access, and campaign finance reform. In those years, she also co-founded a nonprofit organization (Phoenix Action Network) that published creative and community-oriented publications including national magazines such as The Movement, X-Press magazine; and Kids’ Beat magazine—a Hudson Valley magazine written by and for kids. By 2004, Nicole moved full-time to the Hudson Valley again and served the local community as the Director of Communication and Individual Donor Relations at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, until moving her focus to youth in Poughkeepsie. Nicole has presented at numerous conferences, including Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (Mount St. Mary’s College, 2014), and was the Keynote Speaker for the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library & Information Studies (2015). She serves as a National Advisory Council Member for Advancement of Media Smart Libraries (November 2014-present) and on the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum Advisory Board. Nicole is a recipient of an Athena Award (2017); Dutchess Chamber Headliner Award for “Outside the Box Innovator” (2015); Forty Under 40 award for young “movers and shakers” (2012); Vassar Brothers Medical Center Spirit Award (2011); Richard K. Wager Workplace Inclusiveness Award (2010); and Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Awards, Arts Organization (2008). She has dedicated her career to strengthening our community through the arts.
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, MA, MPS,
Director of Education
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos has over fifteen years’ worth of experience educating a vast range of humanity, from prisoners to preschoolers, from homeless teens to blue-chip executives. In her current role as Director of Education for The Art Effect, she oversees successful design, implementation, and evaluation of sequential arts curricula across all organizational programs, alongside teaching her own courses in media/digital literacies and multimedia production, with a focus on social justice and student empowerment. She holds a BA in English from Vassar College, in addition to an MA in English and an MPS in Humanistic/Multicultural Education (both from SUNY New Paltz). She earned the Outstanding Graduate Award for the MPS degree. In addition, Mary Ellen is an award-winning scholar of media, literature, and pop culture. She regularly presents at academic conferences, and has won “Best Paper” awards from the northeast Modern Language Association as well as the Whedon Studies Association. She conducts peer review for numerous academic journals and is co-editor of the volume Joss Whedon and Race: Critical Essays available from McFarland Publishers. She is a three-time winner of the Mr. Pointy award for best work in Whedon Studies, and most recently, she was named one of the 2019 Top 40 Under 40 Movers and Shakers in Dutchess County.
Director of Artistic Advancement
Jordan Sanford is The Art Effect’s new Director of Artistic Advancement. He comes to us from a nearly decade long tenure at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) where he was Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission & Coordinator of Baltimore City Diversity Initiatives. Through coordinating pan-institutional collaborations, thought-leadership, and cultivating strategic relationships with local student-serving organizations he helped lay the groundwork for the success of MICA’s regionally focused diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives. He has advised, guided, and supported countless young people and their families through the art college admission process across twelve states including the state of New York. As such he has forged a strong relationship with The Art Effect, the former Director of Visual Arts, many current students, and a host of alumni over the last 6 years. Creatively, Jordan is a writer, maker, and performer. He has acted in theatrical productions in Baltimore, worked as a comedic writer and performer with a troupe based in Kentucky, and has collaborated on performance art works at Baltimore’s Area 405 Gallery and New York City’s Living Theatre. He is wholeheartedly dedicated to The Art Effect’s mission of youth empowerment through artistic development and facilitating positive social change.
Director of Development
Anna has over twelve years of experience supporting creativity and social change locally and around the world, from teaching photography and literacy in Senegal to leading fundraising campaigns to support meditation for inner-city youth in New York City. Before joining The Art Effect in 2017, Anna led strategic partnerships and fundraising initiatives in museums, government institutions, and nonprofits with the core tenets of education, creativity, and social justice, including the David Lynch Foundation, The Contemporary Austin, Creative Action Institute, and the British Council. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and art history from Vassar College and a Master’s of Public Administration degree in nonprofit management from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Equally happy wandering through an art museum or hiking mountain trails, Anna tries to maintain her creativity (and sanity!) through yoga, photography, baked goods, and weekend adventures in New York City and the Hudson Valley with her husband, baby boy, and energetic pup.
Director of Development
For the past 16 years, Nicole has turned her varied social and environmental interests into a meaningful career of fundraising. With expertise in grant writing and special events planning, her passion is in creatively connecting people to ways they can change the world. Prior to joining The Art Effect, she worked on local youth development and anti-violence programs with Family Services, strategic planning with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and food justice initiatives with the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. Before moving to Dutchess County, Nicole worked with various national and international non-profits, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, Phoenix House, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her volunteer efforts have included mentoring inner-city youth, teaching ESL, and campaigning for climate change awareness. A Hudson Valley native, Nicole enjoys local food and supporting local farmers, raising chickens and children with her husband, and hiking; she is an amateur printmaker and jewelry maker, and according to her son, an expert fingerpainter. She holds a BA from Colgate University in Religion with a minor in Art and Art History.
Director of Explore Programs
The new Director of Explore Programs, Lauren is an alumni of The Art Effect who has been working in our various programs for six years. She has taught in the Junior Art Institute, Discovering Visuals Arts, and for our Dutchess Arts Camps. This past summer, Lauren directed the first ever Ulster Arts Camp in New Paltz. She has lived in the Hudson Valley her whole life and obtained a Bachelors in Art Education from SUNY New Paltz. Lauren strives to have all programs focus on designing inclusive, positive, safe environments for all young artists where they can be exposed to a wide variety of mediums and technology. Her current mediums of choice for her personal work are ceramics and India Ink.
Spark Studios Program Coordinator & Equipment Manager
Paul Thompson is not only the director of the Spark Studios program at The Art Effect, but he is also an instructor in the program. He has actively worked in the film industry since graduating from The College of Saint Rose with a B.A. in broadcast media and film. Paul has produced web commercials, creative shorts, and short documentaries for Hudson Valley businesses and organizations, including the Westchester Library System. Paul also has experience as an employment specialist Ability Beyond, where he was responsible for providing individuals with disabilities the necessary skills to obtain and maintain employment. Paul has used his degree, as well as his experience in human services and video production, to help create a growing, creative and expressive environment through Spark. During Paul’s spare time, he enjoys going to food and film festivals, respectively.
Director of Forge Media
A graduate of the radio, television and film program at Northwestern University, Daniel has been working in the industry for over twenty years. As a broadcast and commercial editor and compositor, he has worked on a wide variety of projects with clients such as American Express, Canon, Comedy Central, Dutchess and Orange Counties, Fuse, Proctor and Gamble, HBO, NBC and MTV. Daniel has also edited several feature length documentaries and was senior editor on the Travel Channel series “This Job’s a Trip”. As a writer and director, Daniel’s short films have featured in festivals around the world. He is currently at work on a feature length documentary about the iconic composer Pauline Oliveros. In addition to film and video, Daniel’s other passion is music. Daniel’s studio, Hell’s Kitchen Recording, has been the home base for his musical exploits over the past 10 years, recording his own music and the music of clients including The Felice Brothers, Pauline Oliveros, Nels Cline and Lionel Loueke.
Media/Art/Design Lab (MADLab) and Community Relations Coordinator
is a Hudson Valley local and a big time art lover. He received his associates in Commercial Art from Dutchess Community College and received his Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase in Arts Management. As an undergrad, he caught the film making bug and decided to make a short. For his Senior thesis, he explored the relationship between film and fine art. He never dreamed about the opportunity to explore that question in his work. David has worked at both Dia:Beacon and Storm King Art center, two flagship art institutions of the Hudson Valley. In 2014 David curated the Dia Staff art show. Before being employed by The Art Effect, David interned for Spark Media Project, as well as music video and feature film directors. He continues to make short films and paintings, and he has a cat named Bam Bam.
grew up in Hyde Park and went on to have a varied and adventurous life. She started by studying music at Barnard College in NYC, and went on to obtain a MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts in Theater Management. She has worked on and off Broadway for such noted establishments as Manhattan Theatre Club, the Public Theater, and Harold Prince, whom she assisted with the productions of Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Musical and a revival of Showboat. But then her interests veered off into a completely different direction. Angela fell in love with birds. This led her to such exotic places as Alaska to work with Bald Eagles, and Hawaii to study the Maui Parrotbill, one of the rarest bird species in the world. In between, she completed a second masters program at Antioch University New England in Conservation Biology. Now she is back to her first love – the arts. (But she still goes birding.)
Sarah Timberlake Taylor
Communications and Data Management Assistant
Sarah has been teaching videography, animation and experimental film for over three years. She graduated from Bard College where she majored in Film Production. After college, Sarah has been as an assistant editor on several features and done projection and stage managing for a couple of touring one-woman plays. She often works with documentarian Kevin Schreck, assistant editing on his award-winning film Persistence of Vision along with TANGENT REALMS: The worlds of C.M. Kösemen, and his upcoming film ENONGO – The Sammus Documentary. Sarah continues to work on her own series Travel Loops, which are short looping films focused on the cyclical nature of recollections created by departures from our everyday life and routines. She loves to collaborate with other artists and enjoys lending a hand with any stage of production.