Executive Director, Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt
Director of Programs, Mary Ellen Iatropoulos
Director of Forge Media, Daniel Weintraub
Director of Explore Programs, Lauren Hollick
Communications and Marketing Manager, Pamela Perry
Media Workforce Programs Manager, Paul Thompson
Community Art and Design Programs Manager, David Wong
Media/IT Coordinator & Teaching Artist, Sarah Timberlake Taylor
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.
Director of Explore Programs
Lauren Hollick 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.
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos, MA, MPS,
Director of Programs
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.
Communications and Marketing Manager
Pamela has spent the last decade riding the waves between the marketing and arts world where she has worked with populations from children with life threatening illnesses, adults with developmental disabilities and the elderly. After receiving a duel Bachelors degree in Fine Art with a concentration in Art Therapy and Psychology from Endicott College just outside Boston, MA she returned to the Hudson Valley to raise her boys and refocus her career working with preschool and elementary school children, conducting creative arts workshops for teachers, and holding expressive arts classes for children and adults. Pamela was recognized with a featured article titled ‘I am a Hudson Valley Parent’ for her work in expressive arts. She fell in love with marketing and communications 7 years ago while working for a local Hudson Valley publishing company and achieved multiple marketing certifications from Dutchess Community College. Pamela continued to focus on learning and developing skills in graphic design, Adobe Creative Suite, social media, and photography where she moved into the non-profit world as director of marketing and communications creating campaigns, show posters and photographing concerts, shows, and events in the Hudson Valley. She has also successfully run multiple campaigns for local schools, national production agencies, and brand development for global companies, and is excited to finally merge her love of art with her skills and knowledge in today’s changing marketing landscape as the most recent member of The Art Effect staff.
Sarah Timberlake Taylor
Media/IT Coordinator & Teaching Artist
Sarah Taylor 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 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.
Media Workforce Programs 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 Weintraub 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.
Community Art and Design Programs Manager
David Wong 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.