In 2000, when my brother Stephen asked me to join him and a friend to run a 2-week camp where kids wrote and produced a play, it seemed like a fun way to spend part of my summer break between Junior and Senior Years of college. Little did I know that creating the musical "00-Chicken, 00-Duck, Secret Agent Spies" that summer would lead me on an 18-year journey exploring peace education, the excitement of youth development, and the challenge of founding and running a nonprofit organization in NYC. I'm grateful to everyone who has taken time to mentor, guide and coach me and the organization through this fulfilling time. I am who I am because of the esteemed people with whom I have had the honor to work.
I'm writing to share some important and exciting news from Kids Creative. After 17+ years, I have decided to step down as Executive Director to move on to new endeavors in peace education. I have been considering this change for a number of years, and the Board, staff and I are taking steps to make it happen this year in a way that does not disrupt our programming or operations. I'm both sad and excited to leave--sad because this has been such a rewarding journey, but excited since Kids Creative has a phenomenal team and I see a great future for the organization.
The Board of Directors and staff have selected Dr. Nanci Coppola, an experienced leader with many years in youth development (and a trained physician!) as Interim Executive Director, to help our team of staff, Board of Directors and youth prepare for the next phase of Kids Creative, including a search for the next long-term Executive Director.
We have experienced great growth, including being recognized with two new 5-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grants through 2022. In addition, thanks to supporters, partners and families like you, a dedicated Board of Directors, and multi-year funding from The Pinkerton Foundation, The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The West Side Children's Fund and many others, Kids Creative has reached a level of potential that I never dreamed possible.
We are embarking on a new phase of life as an organization. Anyone who has attended a training or program with me knows that I love analogies and my analogy for this transition is that it feels like sending a child off to college (I imagine since my son is only 3 years old :). I feel like we have raised the organization for 18 years, nurturing, guiding, stumbling, creating, breaking, fixing, learning and encouraging. Now, it's time to let it go, watch it spread its wings and soar (I did say I love analogies).
I'm proud of what we have learned through the collaborative creative process. Peace making begins by building one's own self-confidence, and the arts provide the perfect vehicle for learning the skills to be proactive peace makers in the world. The key lesson that I'm taking away is that creativity and "Yes, and...," key components of our curricula, are essential for conflict resolution.
I will support this transition part time through June 30th (and beyond as needed), and will continue to contribute to the nonprofit sector, peace education and the arts. I will stay involved in Kids Creative throughout the transition, and as a final step, I plan to join the Board of Directors in the future.
With our current team and the addition of Dr. Coppola, I know that what my brother Stephen and I started in 2000, creating hundreds of original plays and helping thousands of youth learn to peacefully resolve conflicts, will continue to grow and strengthen.
I have worked with some amazing individuals throughout my tenure, and am in awe of the strong staff poised to lead us into the future. Kids Creative alum are making impressive impacts in the world, both as artists/performers/musicians and as changemakers. My biggest source of pride is that I see kids who are kind, self-aware, and dedicated to building community in their schools, colleges, homes and neighborhoods.
In the words of author Robert Fulghum (or John Lennon, depending where you look on the internet), "Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Therefore, even though I'm leaving my current post, the work continues for all of us and I'm grateful to all of you for your continued support of youth, creativity, peace and the arts.
In peace, love and gratitude,
Co-Founder and Outgoing Executive Director