Class of 2016
Graciela Ruiz is a Texas native with a diverse background in the visual arts. She holds Undergraduate degrees in Fine Arts and Art History from The University of Houston. In May 2016, Ms. Ruiz will also receive her M.A. in Arts Leadership from The University of Houston.
She has worked in an administrative capacity with C2 Art Advisors, Rothko Chapel, and, most recently, the new Sugar Land Cultural Arts Department. In her work with the City of Sugar Land, Ms. Ruiz was vital to the implementation of a Cultural Arts Strategic Plan in the first year of its existence. Drawing on her wide array of administrative experience, she was able to support the burgeoning art community of Houston's fastest-growing and most diverse suburb.
In addition to her administrative work in the arts, Ms. Ruiz also continues to explore her interest for book arts, contemporary craft, and ceramics; and, in her free time, volunteers for animal welfare organizations across the city. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband, three dogs, and one bearded dragon.
"The Arts Leadership program has been an exceptional experience. Thanks to the program I was able to take advantage of many networking opportunities through class assignments, presentations, and site visits. I am more in tune with Houston's growing art community than ever."
Jon Lindsey is a founder of Self Actualization Gallery and Blue Agave Writers' Workshop, and also serves as a member of the MASS Gallery collective.
Jon holds an MFA in Critical Studies from CalArts and an MA in Arts Leadership from the University of Houston.
"The MA in Arts Leadership has given me a clear-sighted understanding of how arts organizations operate, survive and flourish, as well as the freedom to test these theories, and myself, in real world settings. The program makes perfect sense for experienced arts administrators looking to take the next step in their careers, and future arts leaders ready to get their feet wet by diving in head first."
Duke Hunter earned his BS in Liberal Studies at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. After moving to Houston with his wife in 2012, he began looking into graduate programs that could integrate a multi-passionate approach to building a career that encompasses experience in education, performance, and arts management. Duke works as an Associate Teacher with HISD, a freelance musician, a private music instructor at Vivaldi Music Academy, and as a House Manager at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center of Houston (MATCH).
“This program lays out a theoretical framework for the most crucial areas of nonprofit arts management—development, finance, marketing and public relations, and nonprofit management theory. I’m proud to be part of this program because I think it perfectly complements my undergraduate work in the humanities. Because of the comprehensive curriculum in this program I feel prepared to step into any managerial role with confidence and effectiveness.”
Alyson Landry is relatively new to Houston having moved from Florida two years ago to begin her graduate studies at UH. Since her arrival in the Lone Star State, Alyson has worked with Houston Grand Opera in the Office of the General Director as well as with the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs developing the City of Houston's Arts and Culture Plan.
Prior to going back into the classroom as a graduate student, Alyson was the Director of the Theatre Department at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts in Florida for six years. A passionate advocate for arts education, she helped to develop the school's Arts Integration program- presenting her findings in New York and Chicago for the Arts Schools Network annual conferences. Along with teaching, Alyson has worked professionally in regional theaters and trained in London. She holds a Bachelors of the Arts degree in Theatre from Florida State University.
"Being a brand-new Houstonian, the Arts Leadership program offered a phenomenal opportunity to learn about this vital, diverse, and thriving arts community from the "insider perspective" of proven leaders in the field. The professors imbue their courses with management savvy, professional connections, and years of experience from a variety of leadership positions in the Houston arts scene. I feel excited, confident, and eager to apply my knowledge in the arts community of my new hometown!"
Class of 2015
Zachary Gresham is an arts administrator and educator who currently serves as Education Programs Director at Art League Houston. In this capacity, he has increased access to high-quality visual arts programs in the Houston community by establishing two scholarship funds that cover tuition for both youth and adult programming, expanding the organization’s in-school artist residency program, ArtBound!, and adult art school, establishing an annual student and instructor exhibition, and creating a summer studio art intensive program for teens. Previously, he worked at Lawndale Art Center, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston Ballet. While completing his graduate coursework, he completed a 300-hour practicum focused on Houston’s 2015 Arts and Cultural Plan with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs at The City of Houston.
Zachary holds a BA from Lamar University, a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Rice University, participated in the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute (CAELI) through the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and in December 2015 completed his MA in Arts Leadership and M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction - Art Education from the University of Houston. Additionally, Zachary has played cello with the Symphony of Southeast Texas since 2009, is a freelance musician, and is a long-distance runner.
“Completing my MA in Arts Leadership at the University of Houston has been a wonderful, comprehensive experience that has provided me with a network of arts leaders, professionals, peers, and professors who are all working in the arts in Houston. I know that the connections I have made through the arts leadership program will continue to serve an vital role in my career as I continue my path in the arts sector.”
Jessica is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota whose background includes working both on and off the theatrical stage for over the past decade. She has a B.A. in both Theatre and Dance Performance from Gustavus Adolphus College, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Jessica completed her M.A. in Arts Leadership at the University of Houston in May 2015.
She has worked in the Houston area at Stages Repertory Theatre, Main Street Theater and Aurora Picture Show. Additionally, Jessica has worked with Jewett Consulting, Queensbury Theatre, and at Houston’s City Hall at the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Currently Jessica is the Marketing and Development Director at Aurora Picture Show.
In compliment to Jessica’s work in the arts, she is a Yoga Alliance certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor and has been teaching in Houston for the past 8 years. Jessica currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Expanded Environment – a non-profit organization devoted to demonstrating alternative ways of integrating biologic agents into design and architecture.
“I am proud to have been part of the first graduating class in the Master of Arts Leadership program and thankful for the hands-on experience the program provides. Leaving the program, I feel much more connected to Houston’s arts community and confident in my ability to lead in the city I love.”
Andrea Huang has made a habit of being ahead of her time. Whether it was graduating a semester early from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor in Arts for Theatre Arts or in her distinction as being a part of the first graduating class at University of Houston’s Master in Arts Leadership Program, Andrea Huang is comfortable in her role as part of the next generation of leaders in nonprofit because of her background that represents an enthusiasm for learning, a passion for performance, dedication to the business of arts sustainability and international exploration.
"I started the program as an aimless young artist and now graduating with all the tools I need to have a successful arts career. I have learned so much from the professors, professionals within the community, and the unique hands-on experience I wouldn't have had elsewhere.”
Dane Manuel is a native Houstonian. A huge supporter for music and education, he graduated with a Bachelor's of Music with a minor in education from the University of Houston in 2011. In 2013 Dane founded the Houston Wind Symphony with the help of some friends and other proponents of music and education. Wanting to fully embrace this new organization, he returned to U of H to take part in the inaugural year of the Arts Leadership program where he graduated in 2015 with his Master's degree. Dane Manuel is a teacher, a conductor, a music clinician, an arts administrator, and in his spare time composes and transcribes music.
"I was always a supporter of asking the right questions. But, as I created my own nonprofit organization, I didn't know what questions to ask. The Arts Leadership program taught me what questions to ask and how to show my self how to ask more. To draw from the fictional character Agent Starling I can once again take the high powered finger of perception and point back at myself. I can now look both outside and inside to improve myself and my organization."