The Team on top of Tunari Mountain

Gina Valenziano. Originally from New Jersey, I went to Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where I studied sociology for my undergraduate degree. During college I started volunteering with the street outreach program at a local men's shelter. I was lucky enough to lead that group for two years. After I graduated college, I got a job at a local shelter for homeless and at risk youth where I was part of the outreach team. For the past three years, I have been a part of the outreach program at Covenant House, where we travel around the different neighborhoods of Philadelphia and speak to the youth, and also the in-shelter staff where we provide case management and life skills to the youth that are residing at Covenant House. I have been blessed to work in the field that I am very passionate about and that I am constantly learning about. I am currently working on my Masters in Urban Studies and Community Arts at Eastern University where I am able to incorporate the healing and empowering aspects of the arts into my youths daily lives.

Callie Dean is a musician and youth minister who lives in Louisiana with her husband, Jordan. She has a bachelor's degree in religious studies from UNC-Chapel Hill and is working on a master's degree in urban studies (Community Arts concentration) from Eastern University. At her church, she develops and teaches a variety of outreach and educational programs for teenagers. She also has played the violin since she was five years old and is a member of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. J. Nathan Corbitt is the co-founder and President of BuildaBridge International. This community service organization was born out of a vision to bring hope and healing to vulnerable children in the contexts of poverty and cirsis as well as to train and engage artists and community workers in the power of the arts to transform lives. In 2000, BuildaBridge was incorporated as an arts education and intervention organization, receiving 501(c)3 designation in 2001. Since its inception, BuildaBridge has provided various arts experiences and programs to over 10,000 children and family members in 25 countries including Philadelphia, Salish and Kootenai Native Americans, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Thailand, and Egypt. Through the Institute, BuildaBridge has also trained over 700 artists, community workers, social workers, and educators.

Dr. J. Nathan Corbitt is also Professor of Cross-Cultural Studies and Coordinator of the Community Arts Concentration in the M.A. in Urban Studies Program of the Campolo College of Graduate Professional Studies at Eastern University in Philadelphia. With an interdisciplinary approach to life-long education, he has broad global experience in teaching, consulting and training in the areas of cultural competence and the arts for education and community development. Dr. Corbitt has served as a professor at Eastern since 1992 as well as in administrative roles such as the undergraduate department chair and graduate associate dean. His notable contributions at Eastern include re-instituting the university’s wind ensemble in 1992, contributing to growth of the undergraduate department of communications, developing a graduate research program, providing leadership in the development of the M.A. in Urban Studies, Community Arts Concentration in partnership with BuildaBridge, serving as the first chair of the Institutional Review Board, and serving as the principal investigator for the Teagle Collaboration Grant that assisted in the founding of Nueva Esperanza College.

Dr. Corbitt lived in Africa from 1982-1992, which had a significant influence on his life, research, service, and teaching. During his time in Africa, Corbitt researched the origins and cultural contexts of African Spiritual Music which included the collection, archiving, and transcription of several hundreds of spiritual songs from the 1980’s in Kenya, along with numerous interviews, participant observations, and training of local musicians. His general findings were published, in part, in The Sound of the Harvest: Music's Mission in Church and Culture (Baker, 1998), upon his return to the United States. He is also co-author, with Dr. Vivian Nix-Early, of Taking it to the Streets: Using the Arts to Transform Your Community (Baker 2003) among many articles and compositions. He has numerous published musical compositions.

He is an avid photographer and has worked tirelessly for over 10 years restoring the Caroline Karsner Mansion where BuildaBridge offices are located and where he also resides with his wife of 43 years.

Celeste Wade grew up in Williamsport, PA and traveled to Philadelphia to attain her degree in Art History and Psychology from La Salle University. Through her love of psychology and the arts, as well as her experience in working at the La Salle University Art Museum, as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art education department, Celeste followed her passion in utilizing the arts as a healing power to creatively engage children and adults, and went on to attain her Masters in Art Therapy at Drexel University.

As an art therapist, Celeste interned at the Bryn Mawr Hospital Psychiatric Unit running art therapy groups with an adult population, at Pennsylvania Clinical schools running individual art therapy sessions as well as art therapy groups with adolescent male offenders, and finally at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia running individual and group art therapy sessions. Currently, Celeste is a Therapist in the Philadelphia area for a Transition and Stabilization program working with youth and families involved in adoption and foster care, and continues to serve as a Family Program Workshop facilitator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Celeste was introduced to BuildaBridge through a close friend and colleague, and immediately fell in love with their slogan “...engaging creative people and the transformative power of the arts to bring hope and healing to children, families, and communities in the tough places of the world.” Celeste began her work for BuildaBridge in 2010 as a volunteer teaching artist for a children’s Poetry In Motion class at Woman Organized Against Abuse (WOAR). Celeste continued her work with BAB volunteering as an assistant to a preschool Music Therapy group also held at BAB. In addition, Celeste was integral in piloting BuildaBridge Art Therapy children’s groups with the Philadelphia Mental Health Collaborative; she served as Assistant Clinician for the Bhutanese refugee Art Therapy group funded by the Collaborative, then transitioned into the Lead Clinician role, and currently serves as a volunteer for the group.

Dr. Vivian Nix-Early is a licensed clinical psychologist and a board-certified music therapist with more than 30 years of experience counseling individuals, groups, families and teams. She has successfully provided consulting and coaching services to higher education, corporate, nonprofit and faith sectors in the areas of professional development, management and leadership, conflict resolution, organizational change (including organizational culture change), team-building, inclusion & diversity, women’s leadership issues, and career change for executives.

She currently provides technical assistance and coaching for small nonprofit organizations in West Philadelphia, and supervises a team of others doing this work. She is the managing consultant for a federal Health & Human Services Strengthening Communities Fund grant awarded to the Mayor’s Executive Office.

Dr. Nix-Early is the owner of a private clinical practice and consulting service, and is co-founder with Dr. J. Nathan Corbitt, of BuildaBridge, a nonprofit arts education organization based in Philadelphia that engages the arts as an intervention to bring hope and healing to vulnerable youth and to teach life skills to adults in poverty in Philadelphia and internationally. Guiding BuildaBridge’s community program development, teacher training and curriculum, Dr. Nix-Early coaches artists and educators who seek to enhance their effectiveness in the classroom and their work with vulnerable students – improving pedagogy, handling conflict, integrating arts, responding to diversity. She has also authored at comprehensive Arts4Peace: Artmaking to peacemaking curriculum for training middle and high school youth in conflict resolution and mediation, and has led camps and workshops utilizing the curriculum. Dr. Nix-Early is a licensed Music Together center director & Music Together Preschool program provider and specialist, providing at-risk mothers and their pre-school aged children access to music education, mommy-baby wellness through music, and music therapy.

Dr. Nix-Early has over 30 years of experience in higher education administration and senior academic leadership that has capitalized on her strengths in the creation and development of major strategic institutional initiatives. She served as the founding Dean of the Campolo College School for Social Change at Eastern University in Philadelphia, from 1999 to 2009, and led the development of its Graduate School mission, values and programs. Before coming to Eastern University in 1995, Dr. Nix-Early served as psychologist, faculty, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Interim Associate Provost at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Nix-Early is currently an adjunct faculty at Eastern University, teaching graduate courses in Arts in Education, Arts in Healing, and Arts, Creativity & Human Development. She is co-author with Dr. J. Nathan Corbitt of a book entitled, Taking it to the Streets: Using the Arts to Transform Your Community. She trains and consults internationally with nonprofit community and faith based organizations on transforming individuals, families and communities through art making. She also trains lay workers and professionals in various parts of the world desiring to engage the arts therapeutically to work with children and women suffering from trauma due to war, abuse, catastrophe and disaster.

Dr. Nix-Early holds membership in the American Psychological Association, the American Music Therapy Association, the Society for Arts in Health Care, and the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.Dr. Nix-Early received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from New York University in 1979, and her post-doctoral Certificate in Creative Arts Therapy from Drexel University in 2009. She attended the Executive Coaching, Institute for Executive & Professional Coaching, Cape Cod, MA; and the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA.

Suet Ferng Tan (Not Attending, but participating virtually) 
Suet Ferng currently serves as a program and youth director in a church in Singapore. Prior to this, she had 7 years of experience working in governmental agencies; she was a town planner at the Housing Development Board, and taught at a secondary school.

Suet Ferng did her undergraduate studies in Geography and Economics at the National University of Singapore. Upon graduation, she pursued a post-graduate diploma in Education. Currently, she is working on a Master’s degree in Urban Studies at Eastern University with a concentration in Community Arts. Though her academic pursuits and training seem diverse and unrelated, she could see how the dots are connected and she is excited to see how things unfold in the future. Suet Ferng is a self-taught artist with an interest in film, drama, doodling, and any form of arts that she may use to communicate joy and hope to the viewers. She is married to Choo Chye; they enjoy travelling and heading out to nature. 

Greta Tom, Trainer and Translator
After Greta Tom received her BA International Studies from West Virginia University, she spent a year volunteering in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her experiences there led her to spend three years in Nicaragua where she accompanied various projects in a community based cultural center. She returned to the U.S. and began the MA Urban Studies program at Eastern University in order to learn about methods for effective community arts practices. Greta plays the piano and oboe, loves to sing and is (slowly) learning guitar.  Greta is Trainer for BuildaBridge, fluent in Spanish, and served with BuildaBridge in Colombia 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment