Sarah Deal, Administrative Assistant
Sarah is The Right Brain Initiative Administrative Assistant. She provides general daily administrative support; in addition to working closely with Right Brain committees, professional development workshops, and volunteers to optimize logistics and communication. She is thrilled to return to RACC three years after her time as an Outreach Apprentice. In the interim, she graduated from Portland State University (PSU) with a B.A. in English, worked at a boarding school in New Zealand, and guided trail rides in Argentina. When not in the office she serves as the Head Coach for PSU Crew and can usually be found navigating the Willamette.
Sinéad Kimbrell, Program Manager
Sinead oversees long-term partnerships with schools, teaching artists and educators. She uses her background of assessment and curriculum design, professional development and research to build strong relationships with stakeholders, as well as deepen program impact for students. Sinéad participated on the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards’ review committee for the new Core Arts Standards and has consulted as an arts assessor for Columbia College’s i3 grant from the Department of Education. She has also had articles published in the Teaching Artist Journal, the Journal of Dance Education, and the Schools: Studies in Education Journal out of the University of Chicago. She is a former teaching artist and arts administrator with multiple organizations, including the Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Obo Addy Legacy Project and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and she has even dabbled in the world of professional development for design and manufacturing engineers through Boundary Systems.
Development Assistant mbraverman@TheRightBrainInitiative.org 503.823.5428
As the Interim Development Assistant, Mia supports strategies, planning and implementation of all fundraising activities, campaigns and special events for the Right Brain Initiative. She is also a paper and visual/installation artist working from her home studio in North Portland. Her art practice varies from fine art to interactive public installations. She graduated from California College of the Arts in 2007 with a degree in Community Arts (art integrated education and community building). She has worked as both a teaching artist and administrator at the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, California.
Yessica Avila, Arts Education Coordinator
Yessica is the Arts Education Coordinator for the Regional Arts & Culture Council, responsible for the department’s public presence, including all communications and community engagement programming. She manages the arts education department’s media and branding, communications, volunteer engagement, equity initiatives, community partnerships, and public events. She has worked in with organizations that represent communities of color, including the LGBTQ Latinx Film Festival, Multicultural Communities for Mobility, and Galeria de La Raza. During her spare time you can find Yessica hanging out at a local coffee shop reading and listening to new beats from Pan Caliente. She’s a huge José José fan and loves cumbias/reggaeton.
Marna Stalcup, Director of Arts Education
Marna oversees all aspects of The Right Brain Initiative. She is responsible for engaging the community in the planning process, overseeing program design and taking the project to full implementation. Marna joined the Regional Arts & Culture Council staff in the fall of 2007, bringing to her position a 25-year career in arts education. At Portland’s Jefferson High School she served as Events Manager and Performing Arts Magnet Program Coordinator. In Vancouver, Washington she was a founding faculty member of the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and part of a small team of educators that established The Communications Academy. Most recently, Marna was Managing Director of Caldera, a local non-profit arts organization that provides programs for middle and high school students and professional artists. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Clothing and Art from the University of Washington and completed additional coursework at Portland State University in early childhood education.
Shannon McClure, Art Integration Specialist
Shannon McClure is enthusiastic about joining the RACC team, working with The Right Brain Initiative. They began their love for art integration as a K-12 art teacher, classroom teacher, and most recently assistant principal in Portland Public schools. Shannon has a background as a gallery curator and visual artist as well, most recently focusing on clay as a medium in their home studio. Youth advocacy is a passion, and she has worked with organizations in Portland supporting students of color and LGBTQ youth over the past 10 years. They are also a proud parent of a Jefferson High School student who has been raised with Right Brain experiences in North Portland. Adventures outdoors are a favorite hobby, and Shannon can be found on the trails rain or shine (…or more rain)! Shannon looks forward to getting to know the RACC team and working toward creating pathways to artistic experiences for youth, schools, and the greater community. Shannon uses both She and They pronouns.
“If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice and have recognition for differences without difference attached to privilege” – bell hooks
Mariam Higgins, Art Integration Specialist
Mariam Higgins comes to Right Brain after 12 years of teaching at Catlin Gabel. During her time there she taught 4th & 5th grade, as well as being the Inclusivity Coordinator. She is a member of the Teacher Advisory Board for the Portland Art Museum and an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark’s School of Education. Upon meeting Mariam, she described herself as being multi-racial (Pakistani, African-American, Scottish/Irish), and third generation Muslim-American. Her colleagues described her as an outdoor enthusiast who loves to hike and pick berries. Mariam studied Medical Illustration at the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and continues to practice art making.
Art Integration Specialist
Ashley Renfrew is a firm advocate for arts integration and believes it is a tool for students to enjoy learning. With a background in both art and science, she brings knowledge of project based learning, studio habits of mind, design thinking, and classroom documentation to this new position. Last year Ashley was on the Right Brain team at Young Audiences supporting residencies, and prior to that she was a middle school science teacher. Ashley received a BS in Art Education from Penn State University and is currently working on her Master in Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University. The last few summers Ashley has worked at OMSI, weaving science and art making together for youth. When not doing homework, you can find her eating snacks, knitting blankets, or climbing rocks.
Young Audiences Staff
Deann DuFrene, Arts Integration Coach
Deann is a teacher at heart. She has always believed that teaching is both an art and a science and those teachers that can skillfully combine the two, are the teachers that leave a lasting impression. Inspired by one such teacher, Deann entered the profession earning an Elementary Teaching Credential from California Polytechnic State University with an Art Minor. As a lifelong learner and artist, she continued her training at Oregon State with a Master of Education and Reading Endorsement.
Over the past 23 years, Deann has continued to challenge herself to blend the art and science of learning. She has taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade, volunteered as an Art Literacy Presentor, mentored AVID students and tutored adults working towards a GED. In each new experience, she encourages students to take ownership of their learning and find creative ways to express their understanding. As an arts integration coach with the Right Brain Initiative, she will help teachers and artist blur the lines between their crafts to achieve lasting student experiences.
Maia McCarthy, Teaching Artist Coordinator
Maia McCarthy, Teaching Artist Specialist for The Right Brian Initiative, has worked as an actress, writer, teaching artist and teacher trainer. Maia had an “aha” moment as an educator when she realized she tapped the same skills working on a theatrical production that she used when training teachers toward excellent, value-based, culturally relevant teaching practices. Maia believes that all quality arts and educational experiences are borne from challenging and collaborative relationships founded on shared values and playful inquiry. Maia has worked with organizations such as Seattle Children’s Theatre, The French American School of Puget Sound, and Profile Theatre in Portland. Most recently Maia spent 7 years with Growing Seeds Learning Community, the last four as the school’s Director. She received her degree BFA in Acting, with a minor in Literature from NYU.
Kim Strelchun, Coach Team Lead
503.225.5900 Ext. 229
Kim Strelchun, The Right Brain Initiative Coach Team Lead, has devoted the last 15 years to education and arts advocacy. Kim gains her inspiration from her children Ali and Lucas who opened her eyes to the power of arts integration. She has worked closely with parents and educators in her roles as Parent Director at Creative Children’s Center, Team Coordinator at Stand for Children, PTA President and Hillsboro School District Board Member. In her free time, she enjoys fusing glass, spending time with her family and watching live theatre. She received a BS in Social Sciences/Political Science from Portland State University. After volunteering with the Right Brain Initiative for six years as a Parent Advocate, Kim joined our coaching team in 2014.