The Right Brain Initiative


Regional Arts & Culture Council Staff

SarahDealSarah 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.

Sara Farrokhzadian, Associate Development Officer

As the Associate Development Officer for The Right Brain Initiative, Sara assists in the planning and implementation of all fundraising activities, campaigns, and special events. She also supports the program’s cultivation and stewardship activities. Sara has a background in anthropology and law. She loves gardening, family, photography, and film.


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  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.

MarnaStalcup_Intisar2016_600Marna 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.

Young Audiences Staff

Deann DuFreneDeann 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.

Kyle Lange, Arts Integration Coach

Kyle has always been interested in developing student voice through the arts and finding ways to help students become experts that their communities can learn from.

He has a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis and Clark and taught theatre arts and multi-disciplinary humanities classes for seven years in K-12 schools.  His pedagogical and andragogical heroes are Nancie Atwell, Paolo Freire, Linda Christiansen, Viola Spolin, and Alfie Kohn. He is proud to have directed thirty-five student performance collaborations where experienced students of all ages trained first-timers in scene analysis, performance, collaborative scripting, improvisation, design, set construction, board operations, stage management, and direction.  His students also produced narrative non-fiction blogs and/or podcasts about their lives, neighborhoods, experiences, and visions for the future.

Before teaching, Kyle spent a decade touring with his band as well as performing in various multi-disciplinary theatre installations.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa where he also studied creative writing and poetry. He is a proud volunteer at his neighborhood public school, where his son chooses to learn all sorts of amazing things.

 maiaMaia 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.

Ashley Renfrew,
Arts Integration Coach

Ashley is a firm advocate for arts integration and believes it is a tool for students to enjoy learning. Her goal is to create an environment of collaboration to help learners make connections to the world around them while getting their hands a little dirty.  She works with schools from the districts of Parkrose, Corbett, Reynolds, Gresham-Barlow, and Portland Public. With a background in both art and science she brings knowledge of project based learning, studio habits of mind, design thinking, and classroom documentation. Before her role as an arts integration coach, Ashley was a middle school science teacher.

She developed arts integrative and project based curriculum aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. She received a BS in Art Education from Penn State University and is currently studying Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University. Ashley looks forward to recycling her undergrad PSU shirts at all PSU graduate events. Other than trying to decide which PSU has a more flattering color palette you can find her eating snacks, knitting blankets, or climbing rocks.


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.