Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Founder and Executive Director
Mary-Mitchell has had an extensive career as a musician and humanitarian. In 2005, she founded ASTEP and is the Executive Director, overseeing the strategic direction, programmatic efforts and fundraising for the organization. She has taught AIDS education in rural India, healthy hygiene in South Africa, and promoted the values of dreaming big to children in the United States. She has conducted many shows on Broadway, performed at the White House, and won awards for orchestrating on Broadway. She is currently music directing Mean Girls on Broadway, and frequently tours in concerts. She is passionate about the power of arts education to transform the lives of children and break cycles of poverty.
Dorienne Brown, Development and Communications Manager
Dorienne is the Development and Communications Manager and is a proud Inglewood, CA native. She has over eight years of experience working with non-profits. After one year of being in New York, her passion for community development led her to transition into New York City’s non-profit sector due to the similarities of many New York City communities to those in Los Angeles and Inglewood. She received her Master of Science in Non-Profit Leadership from the Graduate School of Social Service/Gabelli School of Business from Fordham University. Prior to joining ASTEP, Dorienne had worked with the Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center where she helped produce the inaugural MAMA Festival (More Arts, More Alive) in 2016. Dwana Smallwood continues this event today as an annual must-see in Brooklyn. Dorienne also worked in Development and Communications with the Jericho Project and the New York International Children’s Film Festival. In addition to enriching the lives of youth and people in her community through her work, Dorienne is passionate about arts education and all things creative. She’s excited to be apart of the ASTEP team serving youth in communities in need through the arts.
Kate Garst, Director of Strategic Initiatives
Kate is passionate about the performing arts and serving local communities. She joins ASTEP from The Atlantic Philanthropies which concluded its grantmaking of 8 billion dollars in September 2020 in alignment with the founder’s wishes to devote his wealth to the service of humanity. At Atlantic Kate was a key member of the team working toward the implementation and execution of the Atlantic Fellows programs – a global network of individuals and institutions working together to create fairer, healthier and more inclusive societies. In the theatrical world, Ms. Garst worked with Jujamcyn Theaters, Stacey Mindich Productions, David Korins Design, and the Public Theater. Rooted in East Harlem for over a decade, she remains a proud Nebraska native.
Meg O’Brien, Director of Development
Meg’s love for the performing arts grew as a child in Boston. Her passion for social justice, youth work and public service was instilled serving as a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council of Boston as a teenager. After pursuing musical theatre in NYC for 10 years, Meg co-founded an NGO in Lusaka, Zambia called, “Vision of Hope”, which is a transitional home for street girls. In 2010, Meg volunteered at ASTEP through their RYSA program, falling in love with ASTEP’s mission. In recent years, Meg has worked in the non-profit development sector, finding a passion of advocating for vulnerable populations. She is thrilled to return to ASTEP in the role of Director of Development. Education: Berklee College of Music (B.M.) and Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (MSc). Proud member of Actors Equity.
Tiffany Ramos, Program Associate
Tiffany is the program associate and a visual artist from Queens, New York. During their time studying Fine Arts, with a focus in painting, and Arts Leadership at Boston University, they were deeply involved in LGBTQ activism both on and off campus. After a trip to Ecuador, they saw first hand the power and value art had for those experiencing and dealing with hardships in their lives. These experiences led them into exploring how art fits into the realm of social justice, and discovering ASTEP. They have taught visual art in Florida, Boston, India, and South Carolina. After their return to New York City, they decided to reacquaint themself with the different perspectives of the city through extensive and varied ASTEP volunteering, eventually becoming a program facilitator and later, part of the ASTEP staff. Tiffany looks forward to continuing their journey with ASTEP and aiding in the growth of students and peers.
Alejandro Rodriguez, Deputy Executive Director
Alejandro Rodriguez is a poet, performer, teaching artist, director and facilitator, currently serving as Deputy Executive Director of Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP). At ASTEP, Alejandro co-founded the Artist as Citizen Conference (2014-2019), an immersive educational program hosted annually at Juilliard that developed young leaders by combining traditional arts classes with career skills workshops, keynote speakers & panels on the subjects of citizenship, service & social justice. As a poet, his writing is ‘“lyrical, pulsing and anthemic,” and his work has been featured in collaborations with musicians, choreographers and filmmakers all over the globe, including his most recent full-length play, Sorry, which enjoyed two sold-out runs at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and later toured to Canada. As an actor, he’s performed in theaters across the country, including at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Guthrie Theater, and the Humana Festival, as well as on television in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. As a consultant and facilitator, he’s led courses for Netflix, Facebook, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, and many more. All of the above has been possible because of, and pursued on behalf of, the ancestors — past, present and future. Roots in Cuba and Miami. A graduate of Juilliard.
Austin Sora, Development Associate
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Austin holds a BFA in Dance with a minor in Arts Management from Marymount Manhattan College. She spent three years in Dallas, TX, performing with Bruce Wood Dance and spearheading the company’s community outreach program. Prior to that, Austin worked as the Assistant to the President at The Clive Barnes Foundation, where she oversaw the organization’s annual awards ceremony held at Lincoln Center. She has volunteered with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and was the Summer Intensive Coordinator at Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Austin was first introduced to ASTEP as a Development Intern, and shortly thereafter volunteered as a teaching artist. She is thrilled to be a part of the ASTEP community and to continue serving those in need through the arts.
Davinia Troughton, Director of Finance and Operations
Davinia has worn many hats since joining ASTEP in 2010—from development to administration to the Co-Executive Director role—she is currently overseeing the financial and operational health of the organization. She came to ASTEP from the NoVo Foundation, where she worked on grants management, strategic planning, and in the Women and Girls Initiative, focusing on funding efforts to end violence against girls and women around the world. Davinia is also a New York State certified sexual and domestic violence crisis counselor at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City where she trains and mentors new crisis counselors. She is dedicated to social justice and supporting the voices of women and children worldwide.
Samantha Manfredi, Trainer
Sami is an artist activist and performer who recently moved to New York after growing up, going to school, and working throughout California. After graduating from Santa Clara University with a degree in Theatre and Dance, she discovered her passion and vocation for all things social justice. Over the past four years, she has acted as Program Manager for the Arts for Social Justice Program at Santa Clara University, Artistic Director at The Audacity Performing Arts Project, Inc., and has been a professional performer and teaching artist at various theaters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She is honored to be working with ASTEP, an organization that has continually been a source of inspiration for her and her work and she is excited to see where this journey will lead!
G Serrano, Program Facilitator
My name is Gabby, I also go by G. I’m a visual artist and sculptor, and I recently graduated with a masters in social work. Born and raised in the Lower East Side of New York City was where my passion of the arts began. Coming from an underserved community often meant making sacrifices as well as seeking support to ensure that a young person like myself had some level of engagement with the arts. It was evident even then that while the arts play an imperative role in self-expression, exploration, and growth, disparities existed across communities resulting in scarce or dwindling arts programs. Early on I recognized the ways that art had shaped my life and I wanted to pay it forward and partake in similar, meaningful work. I’ve been with ASTEP for 5+ years, and I have had the unique privilege to facilitate arts activities with youth and young adults. Witnessing just how transformative arts education and interaction can be time and time again has been a rewarding experience. I’ve had teenagers resist participating in a visual arts activity later come to me with works of art that they wanted to share with their peers. I think we often have expectations around what art is or should look like instead of embracing subjectivity and starting from that standpoint. So, to see someone actually try something they may be less familiar with or open to, and actually be proud of their work, deserves acknowledgment, and that sequence of events can be pivotal in someones life. It is an honor to be a part of a community that sees the value in creating more of those moments.
Karina Sindicich, Program Facilitator
Karina is an Australian actress, teaching artist and clown based in NYC. She is extremely passionate about children’s education in the arts and has been teaching and facilitating drama and children’s education outreach for 14 years on different continents around the world! Since moving to NYC Karina has taught theater with numerous organizations including Zara Aina, The Dramatic Adventure Theater Company, Magicians Without Borders, The Actors Theater Workshop and New York Children’s Theater Company. She has been a part of the ASTEP family since the summer of 2018, when she traveled to India to teach dance and movement to students at Shanti Bhavan, which is one of her most treasured experiences! Karina is currently in her final year of completing her MA in Applied Theater at CUNY and is still pinches herself daily that she is a part of this incredible company!
Rosco Spears, Program Facilitator
Rosco Spears is a self-taught visual artist from the west side of Detroit currently residing in Beacon, NY. Holding a masters degree in Criminal Justice Administration (with an emphasis on Juvenile Justice), Rosco combined her passion for working with children and her passion for creating over the past several years in arts education. She has gained leadership experience working with ASTEP in several programs, including classrooms all across New York City, Elaine, Arkansas and at Shanti Bhavan in Bangalore, India. In addition to ASTEP, she has taught in classrooms in Shanghai, China, Newark, NJ, Osceola County, Florida and more. There isn’t a proper way to describe the joy that is felt working with children, opening up their eyes to the universe through art and exploration. Rosco currently spends her days as Partner and Creative Director at The Lip Bar, a vegan cosmetic brand, producing beauty campaigns, managing and training teams of photographers, designers, marketing professionals, and others.
Will Thomason, Program Facilitator
Will Thomason is an eclectic performer and theatre maker who uses his experience in dance, vocal music, acting, piano performance, and songwriting to tell stories examining our modern culture. Among his full-length works, part of his song cycle “These Four Years,” was the inaugural concert at TOWN Stages, which now houses his newest work through the 2019 Sokoloff Arts Creative Fellowship. As a multi-hyphenate artist, he has performed regionally in various musicals and plays, and has had his songs performed in festivals in Michigan, North Carolina, and New York City. A recipient of the ASTEP Kaffenberger Fellowship, he is extremely proud of the work he does with a variety of youth-centered organizations like Lutheran Social Services and the Incarnation Children’s Center, among others. When not writing/performing, you can find him teaching The Ride cycling classes all around Manhattan! @will_thomason; iamwillthomason.com