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





Davinia Troughton named Co-Executive Director

We’re thrilled to announce that Davinia Troughton is now sharing the Executive Director role with Mary-Mitchell Campbell, ASTEP’s Founder, effective February 1, 2018. Davinia will oversee ASTEP’s administration, programs and financial management while Mary-Mitchell will oversee all fundraising efforts for the organization.

Since joining ASTEP’s team in 2010, Davinia has served many roles, including the Director of Development and most recently the Director of Operations. Over the years, Davinia’s leadership has taken ASTEP to a new level of operational and financial planning so it’s a natural progression for her to assume this exciting role. We thought it would be fun to share a bit about Davinia in the same way we highlight our volunteers — through an interview!



Name: Davinia Troughton

Where did you grow up? My family and I moved to the U.S. from Malaysia when I was very young so I spent most of my childhood living just outside New Orleans.

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team? I helped formalize the NoVo Foundation, a private foundation that focuses on women and girls’ initiatives, and prior to that, worked at RSF Social Finance, a nonprofit that encourages socially responsible investments.

Have you been onsite with any ASTEP programs? Which ones? I’ve been fortunate to spend time at several of our programs! Here in NYC, I’ve participated in ASTEP on STAGE!, Arts at Incarnation Children’s Center, and the Refugee Youth Summer Academy; in South Florida with Art-in-Action; and in India at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project.

Did you have a background in the arts or teaching, when you started? I like to joke that I’m the non-artist in the organization in the formal sense, however my craft is organizational development 🙂

What is the most challenging part of your work? Some of the challenges also make this work urgent and fulfilling: knowing that so many young people who could benefit from the transforming power of the arts currently do not have access to it. This reality reminds me daily to do my best to reach as many of these deserving young people as possible.

What is the most rewarding part of your work? The people! From the students we serve, to the volunteers who so generously dedicate their time and hearts, to my brilliant colleagues and board members — ASTEP is a unique place staffed by creative, caring people, and to be surrounded by so much collective joy makes me feel incredibly fortunate.

What do you look forward to, each day, working at ASTEP? I actually love the feeling at the end of the day when I can reflect on all that took place and feel good about what we accomplished together as a team.

What song best encapsulates your working personality? Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles. Celebrate what a new day will bring!




There should be no dividing line between artistic excellence and social consciousness.

For 59 young artists interested in combing their artistic practice with their pursuit of a better world, ASTEP presented our 2nd annual Artist as Citizen Conference from June 7 – 12, 2015 at The Juilliard School.

At ASTEP, we work with children. We put artists in classrooms around the world to share their passion with kids.

In a larger sense, we’re part of an evolving, nationwide conversation on the role of the artist in society. There are articles published on the subject everyday – the landscape of the arts is changing and so are the opportunities available to artists. Meanwhile, the social emotional skills the arts help to develop are increasingly viewed as essential for success in today’s knowledge-based economy.

The Artist as Citizen Conference is an opportunity for ASTEP to help spread this powerful ideal nationwide — and with it, the remarkable culture of service it represents.

It’s been talked about for years. Innumerable blogs have discussed it. The New York Times recently chimed in. There is a movement afoot. A return to meaning in the arts. A return to impact. As one curator put it, “Marcel Duchamp’s toilet is being returned to the bathroom.”

The Conference is about putting the riches of the first network at the disposal of the second. Its mission is to celebrate, connect, and develop young leaders in the arts by providing them with a transformative artistic and educational experience in the heart of New York City.

Why? Because developing motivated young leaders in communities across America is a way for ASTEP to expand the reach of its mission exponentially.

Which means more kids. Exposed to more art.

Welcoming a new member to the ASTEP Family

Sheri SarkisanASTEP is thrilled to announce Sheri Sarkisian has joined our Board of Directors!

Sheri is a vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and joined the firm in 1996. She is a member of the firm’s Compliance department. Sheri earned a B.S. in business administration from Northeastern University with a concentration in finance and marketing. Sheri lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Sheri brings a wealth of fundraising experience and will be helping cultivate new funding streams.

We are excited to work closely with Sheri and welcome her to the ASTEP community — together, we will introduce the transforming power of the arts to lives of the children we serve!

* * * * * 

Ali and Alejandro’s tales from KCACTF!

Here at the ASTEP office, we get to hear the stories and inspiration that come out of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) as soon as our team members come home. This year, we thought we’d give you the opportunity to hear some of these thoughts, as well!

ASTEP’s Alejandro Rodriguez and Ali Dachis are thrilled to share a few of their experiences on the road with you!



Alejandro Rodriguez’s thoughts from KCACTF Region 6:

Region 6 of this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival returned us to “the Other Side” of Louisiana, and to our fabulous hosts at Centenary College in Shreveport. It was great to see some familiar faces among the Centenary crew — the industrious Joe Signorelli, the riotous Victoria Chavis, the cool-headed Clint White and Centenary faculty member/resident wonder-woman Emily Huegatter. Last year, fired up by ASTEP’s mission and spurred on by our exchanges at the 2013 festival, Emily and her students chose to make their production of Moliere’s The Miser a fundraiser for ASTEP, and sent all their proceeds to us in New York. This year, I got to thank them in person. They were once again impeccable hosts.

ASTEP had another major assist in Region 6 from a young woman I met in Shreveport last year and who a few months later was volunteering with us at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in Brooklyn, New York, as a KCACTF / ASTEP Scholarship Recipient: Ms. Molly Page. Molly spoke about her experiences in both of our workshops this year, and galvanized her peers with her stories. We can’t thank you enough, Molly. (Region 6 has been a blessing to ASTEP on many fronts — it’s also where we met Ms. Kelcie Miles, who volunteered with us in Homestead last summer and travelled to India shortly thereafter!)

Conversations were initiated with faculty members about exposing their students more directly to ASTEP’s work— with David Blakely from Rogers State University, Pablo Guerra-Monje from University of Arkansas Fort Smith, and David Lee Painter of the University of Idaho, among others— and we met several students excited about the prospect of volunteering in the very near future. Our Time to Make a Change workshop was on Friday afternoon and it got so charged that it actually ended in hugs for some and tears of inspiration for others. The Living Outside the Box workshop was on Saturday and it filled the room with 20+ students eager to talk about what it might mean to live fruitfully as an artist in America today. On top of this, I got to see my dear friends at the University of Oklahoma (Kelcie’s alma mater) in a riveting production of Miss Evers’ Boys by David Feldshuh, a play I hadn’t been familiar with before but that now I won’t forget easily. Throughout the week, we were treated to festivities and comforts of every sort, all with a distinctly Louisiana flavor to them. Ask anyone who knows her, they’ll you Region 6’s chair Joy Pace knows how to throw a party.

I’ve already received several follow-up emails from students I met in Louisiana. I can’t wait to carry forward these important conversations. In a region that, for us, has such beautiful roots, I can’t wait to see which new flowers will bloom.


Ali Dachis’s thoughts from KCACTF Regions 4 and 5:

My time at KCACTF could not have been more wonderful and inspiring! I did not know exactly what to expect being with college students, and I was fearful because I thought that those making their transition from teens to twenties would be full of judgment and doubt. Instead, I was met with open arms by everyone at Region 4 (Roanoke, Virginia) and Region 5 (Lincoln, Nebraska). Faculty treated me like one of their own, but it was the students who really blew me away with their eagerness to learn and think about the world as artists in new ways. I was thrilled to share my first workshop Living Outside the Box in Lincoln Nebraska with 22 students and teachers as we talked about how our skills can serve more than just a career. Some really interesting questions arrived: How can we make social change with the talents we have? How can we exist as artists as well as healthy human beings? How can we give back to the world with our art? I left inspired by the exchange of so much positive energy. In Region 4 this particular workshop was smaller, but just as powerful. The students brought their honesty and hearts to the workshop and we explored what it means to be more than just one thing, or what it is to live outside ‘the box.’

The Time to make a Change workshop really delved into what it is to experience change and how we feel before and after a major change in our lives.  In both Regions 4 and 5 I was happily surprised by how openly everyone shared. Both vulnerability and respect were present in a room full of strangers. How lovely, how rare! From there we were able to make plans for how we wanted to change our personal communities for the better. Not only did everyone come up with amazing ideas; I was inspired by the compassion and drive within each and every person in the room. We all left with an eagerness to build a stronger community where we live.

In the midst of all of this, I was able to see some awesome work as a judge for the Irene Ryan competitions, and a respondent for several shows and invited scenes. I also was lucky enough to find some time to take a Pilates workshop, a Yoga workshop, a D’ell Arte workshop, and a Broadway Cares workshop (also full of amazing ideas for change). All in all this exhausting, packed, lovely week left me excited and inspired for the future.

Now announcing…The 2014 ASTEP Artist as Citizen Conference!

Region 4_Group2w

June 2 – June 6, 2014


The Juilliard School, NYC

The ASTEP Artist as Citizen Conference is a four-day immersive retreat for young leaders in the performing and visual arts who have recognized the power art has to transform communities. The 2014 Conference will draw on ASTEP’s diverse community of supporters, partners and volunteers, as well as on New York City’s incomparable resources, to expose students to professionals in the fields of arts education, applied theater, and social practice art. Application deadline is May 15.*


$300 Participation Fee Includes:

Housing in the Juilliard dorms

NYC MetroCard

Meal Stipend

One Broadway Show

Six Workshops

Three Keynote Speakers

Two Roundtable Discussions

Apply Now!


 *Must be 18-25 years old to apply.
Applications received before May 1 are eligible for scholarship consideration.


Are you interested in our conference but couldn’t make the full four-day immersion work out? Below are three options that might give you an opportunity to participate after all!

1. Full Non-Resident Pass $200
Did you want to commit to the full range of conference activities, but couldn’t stay overnight with us at Juilliard for some reason? The non-resident pass gives you access to all four days of conference activities, from 9 AM to 6 PM, including three wake up sessions, three real talk speakers, six ASTEP workshops, and more. (Housing, meals, and evening entertainments not included.)

2. Single Day Pass $125
Are you leaving town mid-week, or is there one day of conference programming you especially want to take advantage of? A day pass grants you access to all conference activities from 10 AM to 6 PM, and includes all guest artist workshops, real talk sessions, ASTEP workshops, panel and roundtable discussions. (Housing, meals, wake up sessions, and evening entertainments not included.)

3. A La Carte Pass $35
Is there one speaker or event you’ve got your eye on in particular? Though some elements of the conference will remain exclusive to fellows and/or holders of day passes, several of our workshops will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. These include: Real Talk Sessions, the Artist Roundtable on June 3rd, the Citizenship Panel Discussion on June 4th, and several others.

Please contact Davinia Troughton, davinia@asteponline.org with your inquiries and interest. Just tell her who you are and which pass you’re interested in, and she’ll be happy to register you and arrange payment accordingly.

The community grows — a new ASTEP Student Chapter at Albright College!

Albright CollegewASTEP@Albright student chapter members

This fall, ASTEP will have a new presence on the campus of Albright College, thanks to Emily Piket and Paulina Gallo, who recently founded the ASTEP@Albright Student Chapter along with Abby Walke, Kaytlyn Ashley, Andrea Cameline, and Geoff Alterman. As President and Vice President, Emily and Paulina are inviting any student, faculty or staff member interested in using arts education to end the cycle of poverty in their local community.

When asked why they wanted to start an ASTEP Student Chapter, they shared the following:

To bring together students of different majors and backgrounds at Albright College in order to teach them about the collective power of arts organizations whose missions align with the tenants and philosophy of “theatre for social justice/change”.

To improve confidence, self-esteem, and collaboration skills through arts education in our local community.

To address specific issues (bullying, poverty, drug use, intolerance, etc.) that place our community’s youth at risk.

Pretty impressive goals! We’re looking forward to sharing in their journey and inspired by their dedication to using the transforming power of the arts!

ASTEP and Kennedy Center Fellows announced!

ASTEP Fellow Victor Colon and ASTEP Volunteer Artist Nick Dalton

ASTEP and the Kennedy Center are thrilled to announce the 2013 ASTEP Fellow scholarship recipients:

Victor Colon from University of Puerto Rico
National Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in Quito, Ecuador

Kelcie Miles from Oklahoma University
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in South Florida

Molly Page from Louisiana Tech University
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in NYC

Maria Arvanitakis from Kansas State University
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in south Florida

JJ Krehbiel from BridgeWater College
Regional Scholar – will volunteer at ASTEP’s program in India

ASTEP Fellows will receive a stipend to cover their travel costs and meals when they volunteer with ASTEP. They were selected based on their exemplary leadership and dedication to using the arts to empower communities, and ASTEP is excited to have them join our community of artists. Special thanks to Gregg Henry, Artistic Director at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, for his continued commitment to supporting and collaborating with ASTEP.

To learn more about ASTEP and our volunteer opportunities, visit our homepage today!

Apply for ASTEP’s artist residency scholarship!

A Step Towards Empowering Artists Scholarship

Summer 2013

Theme: Taking Refuge 


Scholarship Description

For a second year in a row, ASTEP and SPACE on Ryder Farm are thrilled to award a one 5-day 4-night residency for actors, playwrights, poets, musicians, songwriters, composers, and visual artists. Our goal is to support socially conscious artistic endeavors, which include creation processes, residencies, exploration or research, exhibits, and performances. The residency will provide each artist with room, board, working space, and artistic support from Ryder Farm faculty for the 5-day 4-night stay. Applicants will be required to arrange and pay for their transportation to and from the farm.

Scholarship Requirements

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have either participated as a student or teacher in one of ASTEP’s programs.
  • The residency will take place during the month of August 2013.
  • The residency is available for actors, playwrights, poets, musicians, songwriters, composers, and visual artists.
  • All artists must bring their own equipment and materials.
  • The project proposed by the applicant must directly relate to the scholarship theme: Taking Refuge

Applicants must submit a cover page, project summary, and project logistics

  • Cover page: must include a project title, applicant name, email address, phone number, and the individual’s prior experience with ASTEP.
  • Project Summary: The project summary must be between 250-400 words. Please explain why you are pursuing this project, how the theme is connected, and the impact you hope the project will have on you as an artist and/or your community. Project summaries that exceed the recommended length will not be reviewed.
  • Project Logistics: Please specify a timeline for your project from inception to completion and your budget. If you already have or plan to seek funding from outside sources, please list those sources as well.

Review Process

  • Three members of the ASTEP community have been randomly selected to review eligible applications. Panelists are chosen from our database and include student alum, Volunteer Teaching alum, and a current ASTEP board member. ASTEP staff will not serve on the panel, and all panel members will remain anonymous.
  • Panel members may contact applicants through ASTEP staff if they have any comments and questions about the application. The panel will score the application, including any modifications, according to the following guidelines:

Clarity – how clearly the idea is presented and how it connects to the theme.
Practicality – how feasible is the project as a whole based on the budget and timeline presented.
Impact – the potential for impact on the artist and the community.

Application Deadline

Applications will be accepted from 7:00 a.m. on March 29, 2013 until midnight on April 2, 2013. Email applications to Mauricio Salgado at mauricio@asteponline.org

Scholarship Recipient

  • All applicants will receive a response by May 1, 2013, including the scholarship recipient. The scholarship recipient will also be announced on the ASTEP website.
  • The scholarship recipient must confirm their residency dates by May 15, 2013.
  • The scholarship recipient will also be required to present 4 blog posts about their creative process for the ASTEP website. Blog posts need to include pictures or video.

For questions, please contact Mauricio Salgado, Director of Domestic Programs, at mauricio@asteponline.org