Exciting ASTEP announcement!


Dear Friend,

What a year it has been! 2021 marked not only a significant milestone for ASTEP as we celebrated our 15th anniversary, but also a year of significant growth for the organization fueled by critical reflection of our past and strategic planning for the future. ASTEP supporters are unique. You show up for young people. This past year has been an opportunity for growth that has led to a leap towards great change, and I am blown away by the resilience of the ASTEP community and the incredible young people we serve! I am especially grateful for your unwavering support of our work through these uncertain times.

ASTEP was a spark of an idea that came to life with a group of artists dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young people. For years, ASTEP volunteers were running in and out of my New York City apartment – our first ASTEP office – at all hours! We were eager, dedicated, and aching to support young people who sought a creative outlet. After 15 years, ASTEP is now a self-sustaining enterprise and the organization is ready for the next phase.

We at ASTEP believe the arts are a human right and have committed ourselves to accessibility, equity, and anti-oppression throughout our work. We also acknowledge that the best opportunities for growth and change arise when people in power are willing to make room for more to join the table. It has been a great honor to be a part of ASTEP’s growth from a grassroots nonprofit in 2006 into the international arts organization it is today. I am excited to announce that I will be stepping down as Executive Director to take on a new role within the organization as President. In early 2022, we will welcome a new Executive Director as a partner and leader in elevating this organization and the voices of young people all around the world.

I am filled with enthusiasm to know that our new Executive Director will be stepping into a community of wonderful people like you! Your generosity and commitment opens young people’s minds to new possibilities with the belief that if you can see it, you can be it. You are showing our young people that you believe in them, that their voices and stories are important, and that they can be heard. Thanks to your support, we are able to celebrate accomplishments like our commitment to compensate professional teaching artists and the expansion of our programs!

Please give today to ensure that we continue to deepen our current partnerships, pilot new programs, and empower more young people through the arts. Your donation matters to the organization and to the young people we serve. By investing in ASTEP today, you are paving the way for tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders. The future of ASTEP is bright thanks to you, and I cannot wait to step into our exciting new chapter together.

With optimism & gratitude,



Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Founder and Executive Director





Welcome to our newest Board Member, Dipti Verma!

Please join us in extending a very warm welcome to our newest Board Member, Dipti Verma!

Dipti Verma is Director of Market Data at S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI) based in New York. She is the Global lead for the Fixed Income Data management team that supports terms & conditions and pricing data, credit ratings, interest rates, ESG, credit default swaps, and debt capital structure. Her areas of focus are seamless delivery of content across all SPGMI products for IM/IB/Corporate clients, managing vendors, conflict resolution while dealing with multiple deliverables for product, content, technology & incorporating client feedback for continuous innovation. Her 20 years of global experience in financial services & banking positions her well at handling ambiguous projects, negotiating with challenging stakeholders & successfully delivering tangible products to the end-customer. Prior to joining S&P Global in 2010, she worked in various capacities at Merck, ABN Amro Bank & GMAC Mortgage.

She is an AWS Certified Solutions Architect and a Certified SAFe® 5 Product Owner/ Product Manager.

“The mission of ASTEP resonates with me & bridges two causes close to my heart – children and arts. In addition to indulging in random acts of kindness, I look forward to ASTEP providing a framework that enables me to give back to the community in a more meaningful manner. I strongly believe working towards furthering the well-being and development of the under-privileged communities especially younger people ensures we all have a better future.” -Dipti Verma

Welcome, Dipti!


New York City Christmas: RETURNS!


We are thrilled to share that our annual Christmas concert will return to Joe’s Pub this year on MONDAY, DECEMBER 13 at 7PM!

After much anticipation, we can finally celebrate the return of our in-person annual benefit concert, conceived, produced, and music directed by Drama Desk-nominated orchestrator Lynne Shankel (NBC’s Annie Live, Cry-Baby, Altar Boyz, Allegiance). Now in its 12th year, our concert will feature Broadway’s favorites singing fresh, original approaches of holiday songs off of the ‘New York City Christmas’ album, along with several original songs. Don’t miss out on this exciting evening, filled with music and holiday cheer.

This year’s performers include…
Kate Baldwin
Sierra Boggess
Montego Glover
Becca Gotlieb
Chester Gregory
David Josefsberg
Kennedy Kanagawa
Lauren Marcus
Kenita Miller
Eric William Morris
Ben Roseberry
Aurelia Williams
Kuhoo Verma
…and many more special guests!


Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please email Hannah Martin at hannah@asteponline.org for more info.

ALL proceeds from tickets to the show and album sales go to supporting ASTEP’s efforts to cultivate the creative capacity, community, and courage young people need to thrive through the arts.

To purchase your own copy of New York City Christmas: An Album to Benefit ASTEPclick here.

For additional singles, click HERE and HERE.



Hiring! New Executive Director

Artists Striving to End Poverty

Executive Director

New York, New York


ASTEP was conceived in 2006 by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. 

Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with young people who can benefit from arts education and offers leadership training for those seeking to change the world through art.  By awakening imaginations and fostering creativity, ASTEP supports young people to develop agency through the arts—to develop the ability to imagine new futures and possibilities and gain the skills and strength to achieve them.

ASTEP partners with schools and community organizations to create after-school and summer programming that use the arts as a vehicle to teach youth the social emotional skills they need to be the best versions of themselves, celebrates their strengths, and builds up their unique areas for growth. 

Programs in New York, Miami, India, and South Africa provide a bridge between artists and youth with limited or no access to the arts and serve youth affected by the justice system, incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, immigration status, systemic poverty, and HIV/AIDS, and generational poverty.

ASTEP’s Teaching Artists are highly successful Broadway performers, professional artists, or students and faculty from schools such as Juilliard, offering a variety of disciplines such as dance, visual art, music, and drama. Combining a passion for the arts and an ability to use artistic tools to teach life skills, they become trusted mentors to their students.

ASTEP is a growing organization with an engaged board and staff and a fun, informal, and forward-thinking internal culture. During the pandemic, leadership has undertaken a significant re-visioning effort. In furtherance of their mission, the organization has reinvested in becoming an ever more inclusive, responsive, and representative organization, and evolved their programs during this unprecedented time to meet the moment.  

Among other advances, ASTEP has expanded the organizational vision to reach more young people, is transitioning from recruiting volunteer Training Artists to a fully paid model and is taking steps to ensure that individuals with relevant experience to the communities they serve, in all levels of the organization, are compensated fairly for creating value for those communities.


ASTEP began its anti-racism journey long before the summer of 2020 and expects to continue it long after. We engage in both formal (training, consultancies) and informal practices (book clubs, shared leadership models) to continue to interrogate supremacist behavior in ourselves and our organization. We are committed to seeking staff members and Teaching Artists who are representative of the communities we serve; therefore, cultivating a sense of belonging across diverse populations is crucial to our success.

You can learn more about ASTEP online at: www.astep.org


Following a long and successful tenure of its founder as professional leader, ASTEP is seeking a strong manager of both people and systems as its next Executive Director to provide strategic vision and operationalize ASTEP’s goal to make a broader social impact through the arts. Building on extensive prior thinking and data, the Executive Director will create a multi-year strategic plan in collaboration with the board that outlines where ASTEP is headed and the path to get there.

Because ASTEP is intentionally re-envisioning itself, this is an exciting opportunity for a leader with big, mission-aligned ideas. The Executive Director will oversee the shift to a new organizational identity, both internally and externally, drive the national expansion of ASTEP’s programs and partnerships, and build out the internal infrastructure to support them.

ASTEP is in a solid financial position with a budget that has recently topped the $1M threshold for funders. The Executive Director will be responsible for capitalizing on that opportunity by managing the current budget, setting financial priorities, and raising the funds to fuel ASTEP’s growth.  Working closely with the board and founder, the Executive Director will lead efforts to grow the fundraising base, including grants and gifts from foundations, corporations, and major donors.


Strategic Vision and Leadership:

  • Provide strategic vision for ASTEP in service of its mission and lead the organization into its next phase of development, growth, and impact.
  • Lead the ASTEP staff and community through transformation, growth and beyond with transparency and positivity; ensure the team feels connected to ASTEP’s priorities and are kept abreast of decisions made at the senior leadership level. 
  • Ensure that ASTEP’s vision, values, brand, and strategic priorities are evident and consistent in every aspect of the organization, including its staff and programs.
  • Drive ongoing discussion and experimentation that encourages innovation and pushes boundaries in making a wider social impact through art. 
  • Provide inspirational leadership, direction, and supervision to a high-performance team, including five direct reports; foster a culture of accountability, collaboration, and experimentation that embraces change and ensures team members feel appreciated and have equal access to opportunity.
  • Attract, hire, retain and promote qualified professionals; empower staff through active communication, professional development, and delegation.

External Relations and Resource Development:

  • Act as the primary driver in grant and donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship, engaging the founder strategically in the process.
  • Build out a comprehensive development team to assist in developing new funding sources and deepening connections with current donors.
  • Serve as a key spokesperson of ASTEP’s vision, values, programs, challenges, and achievements. In addition to the founder, represent the organization and promote coalition building and collaboration with other community organizations, businesses, and partners.
  • Ensure ASTEP’s external communications efforts promote the public visibility of its expanded mission and enhance revenue from all sources.
  • Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board of Directors and promote engagement in strategic planning and resource development; support the board in the identification and recruitment of new board members with an emphasis on diversification; keep the board informed of all organizational matters.

Finance and Operations: 

  • Administer the day-to-day function of the organization including structure, policies, and procedures, and grant reporting and compliance.
  • Oversee the financial status of the organization; set financial priorities that support the needs of the program and staff; manage the budget and ensure that revenues and expenditures are consistent with the budget approved by the Board.
  • Direct the development, refinement, implementation, and articulation of organizational offerings that reflect the mission, create revenue opportunities, and change lives.
  • Create systems and processes that facilitate donor tracking, data collection, and promote consistency throughout the organization.


  • Nonprofit management experience, ideally at the executive level, and a demonstrated ability to develop and implement strategic plans, mange organizational finances, create earned revenue streams, and undertake successful fundraising. 
  • An appreciation for and understanding of the lived experiences of program participants; a commitment to communities historically impacted by inequity.
  • Demonstrated track record of growing an organization and building an internal infrastructure to support a mission; experience with change management. 
  • Financially savvy with the ability to set clear priorities, delegate, and guide investment in people and systems.
  • A collaborative leader who seeks synergy with the founder, board, and staff to work together toward a shared vision; comfortable both soliciting input from others and making decisions quickly, effectively, and confidently.
  • Excellent manager and developer of talent; ability to smooth ruffled feathers, work with strong personalities, and give people the freedom to run with ideas.
  • Bold, risk taker willing to challenge the status quo while respecting organizational learnings and history.
  • Dynamic relationship builder who displays a sincere interest in each staff and board member, donor, teaching artist and community member, and engages others in ASTEPS values and mission.
  • Equity mindset that welcomes and encourages a diversity of opinions and viewpoints while prioritizing voices and perspectives from the young people and communities whom ASTEP serves. 


  • Salary range of $110,000 – $125,000 commensurate with experience, plus benefits. 

This position description is based upon material provided by Artists Striving to End Poverty, an equal opportunity employer.  ASTEP especially welcomes applications from people of the global majority—including Black, Asian, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Debbie Katz

Search Specialist



To apply to this position please visit www.DRGsearch.com




Announcing the 2021 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship Recipients

Morgan McGhee
Morgan McGhee
Zahra Budhwani
Zahra Budhwani

For a fourth year, ASTEP is honored to select two stellar Teaching Artists as recipients of the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship for their work with ASTEP Arts at the Newcomer Youth Summer Academy 2021. We are thrilled to announce this year’s fellows – Morgan McGhee & Zahra Budhwani. 

ASTEP provides the arts component of The International Rescue Committee’s Newcomer Youth Summer Academy (NYSA), a five-week summer camp supporting the personal growth, cultural adjustment, and education for young people who have recently resettled in New York City (ages 4-22) and helps them successfully transition into the US school system. 

Due to the current global pandemic, NYSA will be held virtually for the second consecutive year. Our incredible team of Teaching Artists, including Morgan and Zahra, have created a digital space that empowers young people with a sense of community, courage, and creative capacity. Through the arts, our Teaching Artists focus their lessons on nurturing English language and coping skills, as well as school readiness. 

The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals who closely model Jennifer’s passion for utilizing the arts to celebrate a young person’s strengths and build up their unique areas for growth. With this fellowship, we honor Jennifer’s legacy by celebrating Morgan and Zahra’s outstanding contributions to the ASTEP classroom. 




Get to know Lindsay Roberts, our new Director of Programs!

We are thrilled to welcome Lindsay Roberts to the ASTEP staff as Director of Programs!

Where did you grow up?
I was born outside of Chicago but grew up outside of Philadelphia so it’s all about soft pretzels and Wawa coffee for me!

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team?
Prior to coming to ASTEP, I served as the Arts Education Program Manager and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Co-Manager at Young Audiences Arts for Learning New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, developing and managing multi-disciplinary arts education programming that reached over 350,000 school children each year.

Do you have a background in the arts or teaching?
Definitely! I have been singing and a lover of the arts since I was five years old. Onstage, I am a musical theatre singer and actress. I began my professional career after graduating and soon after joined the Broadway First National tour of MEMPHIS, covering the starring role of Felicia Farrell. I also toured with the Broadway First National Tour of THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS and was featured as the “Creole Love Call” singer on the NCL International Tour of Broadway’s After Midnight. Some of my favorite New York and regional credits include portraying Cindy Lou in Classic Stage Company’s New York Revival of Carmen Jones, multiple engagements at New York City Center Encores, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Kristin Chenoweth’s National Tour (where I first met Mary-Mitchell!), the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, and Lincoln Center.

In my formal training, I earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Maryland in Opera/Vocal Performance with a concentration in Music Education and a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University. I have worked for many years as a teaching artist and arts administrator and I am also a Certified Diversity Professional through the National Diversity Council and specialize in culturally relevant arts education and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the arts sector.

What is the most challenging part of your work?
The balance. There are so many places where I believe the life-changing impact of rich arts education experiences are needed, but there is only so much capacity that one person or one organization has at any given moment. Determining where to focus resources can be a very challenging decision because your heart wants to be everywhere.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I love love love seeing the connection between great teaching artists and young people co-creating together. There is nothing better than being a part of the work in real-time.

What about working for ASTEP are you most looking forward to?
I love working with this team and I am so excited about the new direction for ASTEP. I look forward to new partnerships, greater impact, and bringing new and diverse voices into the learning spaces with young people.

What song best encapsulates your working personality?
I actually love working at night, in the quiet, when I can imagine project growth and expansion and think through the work without interruption. Because of that, and also because some of my earliest childhood music experiences come from hits of the 90s, I chose “Dreaming of You” by Selena.

Key lyrics that feel especially relevant when thinking about working from a passion-point are:

Late at night when all the world

Is sleeping

I stay up and think of you…

‘Cause I’m dreaming

Of you tonight


‘Till tomorrow

I’ll be holding you tight

And there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be

Than here in my room

Dreaming about you and me

I can’t stop dreaming of you

(No puedo dejar de pensar en ti)

I can’t stop dreaming

(Cómo te necesito)

I can’t stop dreaming of you


UPDATE! Expanded Changemakers Scholarship Eligibility

UPDATE: We have now expanded our scholarship eligibility to students living anywhere in the US!

The ASTEP Changemakers Scholarship will award six $1,000.00 scholarships, each supporting a Black student who has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to social justice. This scholarship will support the recipients’ educational journey.

Eligibility- Must be a graduating high school/alternative school senior in the US. This scholarship may be used at an accredited college, university, vocational, or technical training program. Of the six scholarships, at least one will be awarded specifically for a student attending an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Former ASTEP students are especially encouraged to apply.

Applicants must submit either a video or an essay to answer the question: How are you an agent of transformation toward social justice? Give specific examples from your life and personal beliefs.

Submission deadline: June 1, 2021
Winners will be contacted by June 14, 2021

If chosen, winners will be asked to share their story by submitting a photo and paragraph about how the funds were used to support their educational pursuits as their testimonies help promote the scholarship fund for future applicants.


Program Manager Tiffany Ramos Answers our Creative Activity Kit Questions

Tiffany Ramos holds up Creative Activity Kits

After hearing from our partners that the young people we serve were experiencing zoom fatigue from virtual learning, or had limited internet access, our Program Manger Tiffany Ramos crafted the Creative Activity Kits as a zero-technology solution. 

We asked Tiffany some questions about the Creative Activity Kits, and loved hearing their perspective on the initiative!

Why was it important to start the Creative Activity Kits initiative? 

It was important to start this initiative because at the very beginning of 2021 we were hearing from our partners how most children were experiencing zoom fatigue in virtual programming. Since school had shifted to virtual learning, some children had difficulties with access and navigation, and others were no longer feeling engaged through virtual workshops due to long hours spent in front of a device. As a result, we thought to take a zero technology approach to our programming and shift to something that engaged children more tangibly. Our Creative Activity Kits offered the magic and joy of an ASTEP classroom in lieu of in person classes, for now ASTEP classes and Teaching Artists take form in the art supplies and activity workbooks created and shared with children. Through this initiative we’ve been able to continue to bring play and social emotional learning through the arts to children throughout New York City who are more likely to have limited creative outlets. 

How do you think the kits have impacted the communities we serve? 

We have received a great amount of positive feedback from partners and children expressing how joyful children have been while completing activities and playing with their supplies. I think this initiative has had a great positive impact on the communities we serve. I know much of the supplies we have shared with children have been popular, then there’s the added bonus that students get to keep these kits making it that much more impactful. We are giving the gift of art and access to materials to fully participate in creative exploration. We hope that children get to use their supplies for the activities we provide as well as everyday entertainment and allow them the opportunity to continuously engage in creative play. 

What are your three favorite items in the Creative Activity Kits? 

My three favorite items have been a dance ribbon, because the movement is mesmerizing, and it just so happens to be one of the children’s favorite items as well. I’m also a huge fan of the play doh, because it’s a great molding tool and play doh is just so much fun to squish. My third favorite item is the spin drum because I enjoy percussion, I think it makes such an interesting sound to play with and I hope our students feel the same curiosity towards this fun noisemaker.

Any other thoughts?

While we have not been able to be onsite and share space together with children, our Creative Activity Kits have brought such excitement to our partners, students, and our ASTEP team. I think each month has been a fun mystery for our students as they receive new activities each month, and our Creative Activity Kits offer new ways for ASTEP to engage with our community. We have heard how appreciative our partner’s onsite staff members have been to have resources in the classroom for students to focus on while maintaining safety protocols. 

Click here to help us continue our Creative Activity Kits initiative.

Gift an ASTEP Creative Activity Kit!

The current state of the world has brought on unexpected challenges for our partners and the communities we serve together. Many of our students have limited access to the internet, which hinders their ability to participate in online learning. Other students have been overwhelmed by screen time and need to disconnect. On top of these challenges, access to art supplies is limited for our students.

In order to solve these problems, we are launching our Creative Activity Kits initiative!

These kits are full of educational arts-based activities that allow students to learn, express themselves, and have fun. No internet or screens are required, and all of the necessary supplies are included in the kits. Each student will receive their own kit, which they can take with them for whenever inspiration strikes.

So far, we’ve provided 150 Creative Activity Kits to our students, but we need your help to continue giving the gift of imagination in these challenging times.

  • For $25, you can send a Creative Activity Kit to an ASTEP student.
  • For $150, you can provide Creative Activity Kits to a family of six affected by homelessness.
  • For $500, you can support an entire classroom of students with Creative Activity Kits.


We are grateful for our $15,000.00 Matching Fund Donors for this campaign

Laura Chittick
The Esposito Family
Thomas & Sheryl FitzGerald
Jacob Hadad
Cynthia Kortman Westphal
Theresa Martinac
Elizabeth Salem
Tim Swearingen
Landon Westbrook