Meet Dr. Yan Xiao, ARAD’s Adjunct Assistant Professor

ARAD is delighted to welcome a new faculty member, Dr. Yan Xiao! Learn more about Dr. Xiao, what brings her to our program, and what she does outside her work at Teachers College!

Dr. Yan Xiao, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Program in Arts Administration

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your educational background?

I grew up in China and got my higher education in Beijing and Columbus, Ohio. My research focuses on arts and cultural policy, arts administration, arts entrepreneurship, cultural diplomacy, and the management of nonprofit organizations.

What previous experiences have led you to your current role?

I got my Ph.D. degree in cultural policy and arts management from the Ohio State University. Prior to it, I worked in nonprofit (National Centre for the Performing Arts of China) and for-profit (entertainment industry) sectors for several years. 

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

I always believe in the power of arts to foster social change. This belief encouraged me to learn more and experience more in the field of art, both academically and practically. 

After attaining a Ph.D., entering a career in academia is a continuation to examine and challenge conventional notions about the arts, and to pursue a more inclusive understanding of its social and economic impact.

What are you looking forward to in taking on this role?

As an Adjunct Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, I look forward to mentoring students to prepare them for a variety of careers. I am excited to support students’ professional development that shapes the field of arts administration and reflects ARAD values. 

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

I have two boys, a baby and a preschooler. Most of the time outside of TC, I am with them and my husband. We go ice skating, kayaking, hiking, strawberry picking, camping, or simply pretend playing. If you can’t get through to me, I am probably taking a trip with my kids and Peppa Pig to the North Pole, riding on clouds.

Yan Xiao, PhD, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor specializing in arts administration in Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Xiao’s research focuses on arts and cultural policy, arts administration, arts entrepreneurship, cultural diplomacy and management of nonprofit organizations.

Over the past years, Dr. Xiao has taught graduate and undergraduate-level courses in arts administration. She is also an arts management professional with years of experience in international performing arts. She has been working with Philadelphia Orchestra, Arts Midwest, National Centre for the Performing Arts of China and other arts organizations on various research topics.

Dr. Xiao received her PhD in Cultural Policy and Arts Management from The Ohio State University, and Master’s degree from Renmin University of China.

Lonnie Woods III on Transitioning to Faculty Position Leading ARAD’s Practicum in Arts Administration and Internship Courses

ARAD’s beloved Professional Development Coordinator, Lonnie Woods III, is transitioning to a new and exciting faculty position leading the Practicum in Arts Administration and then the Internship course. We spoke to Lonnie about the Practicum class that first-year ARAD students will be taking with him, including his vision for the course and the lessons he’d like students to walk away with. You can also learn more about Lonnie here!

What makes you passionate about professional development? 

Believe it or not, editing resumes for myself and my friends in college sparked my love for professional development. As a trained visual artist, I see constructive critique, creating, editing and formatting as an artform; those same principles apply to professional development. I am passionate about professional development because so much of it is about discovering who you are and making room for new versions of yourself. The professional work that we do is often a reflection of who we are (at least I think it should be that way). Each time we make a career change, we are making a life change, which translates to this exciting opportunity to curate and repackage yourself. I find the repackaging process exhilarating but I realize that it makes many people nervous. I get to be the person who helps students to calm those nerves and put their dreams into a plan.

What can students expect from the 8-session practicum they’ll be taking with you in their first semester of the program?

Students can expect to learn the tools and resources needed to create and execute a personal career plan in the arts. Students can expect to learn about essential career related topics such as professional relationship building, negotiation, job search techniques, personal branding, and career options within the arts field.

How does your class dovetail with the internship component of the ARAD curriculum?

In this course, students apply what they learn in their other ARAD courses to their individual career goals. Practicum in Arts Administration will prepare students for the internship search and hiring process as well as give them the tools and resources needed to equip and empower them to choose the internship and career path that will best align with their goals. 

What are you most looking forward to in starting this position?

I am looking forward to meeting the new students! The main reason that I work in academia is because I genuinely enjoy supporting students. I also look forward to sharing space with the future generation of folks who will go on to impact the arts industry in a powerful way. I look forward to helping students streamline their visions and dreams into a plan that they can execute and update throughout their time in the program and beyond.

What are the biggest lessons you’d like students to take away from your class?

  1. Choose collaboration over competition; network across as well as up. Your success does not always surround your ability to climb the ladder. Your success partner may be sitting right next to you in class.
  2. Your career plan is your own. You have the ability to edit, re-write or completely change your career story at any given time.


Professor Lonnie Woods III is a student affairs administrator, educator, and professional development practitioner whose research examines the career competencies of college students studying arts related majors. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Fine Art Photography from Towson University and a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs from New York University (NYU).  Lonnie serves as an Arts Career Consultant, College Readiness Specialist and Teaching Artist  and has collaborated with world renowned arts organizations such as: The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Whitney Museum of American Art, The Smithsonian Museum of American History, The Studio Museum of Harlem and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

An Interview with Professor Jennifer Lena on her new book, Entitled

Earlier this month, TC ARAD Associate Professor Jennifer C. Lena released her new book Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts. She answered a few questions about the work, with which we are thankful to share.

Continue reading “An Interview with Professor Jennifer Lena on her new book, Entitled”

Arts Administration Faculty Develop Course with Palestinian Arts Organizations (Part 1)

Throughout the semester, we will feature highlights and insights from Dr. Lena and Dr. Mangione’s time in Palestine last summer. Please stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for more #ARADPalestine.

This past summer, ARAD Program Director, Dr. Jennifer Lena, and Lecturer, Dr. Gemma Mangione visited Palestine to lead an intensive arts administration program for staff from arts organizations in the West Bank. In addition to teaching, Dr. Lena and Dr. Mangione sought out cultural experiences that informed their understanding of the area and created indelible memories. Dr. Lena shared photos from her travels around the West Bank and her visits to Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, the Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union, and Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel (keep an eye out for a future posts describing these visits and what they meant to her).

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The course took place over four consecutive weekends at Bethlehem University. Dr. Lena, Dr. Mangione, a colleague from the Asia Society and professors in Bethlehem University’s business administration program taught the course. Project management was provided by staff from the Sabreen Association for Artistic Development, which operates in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Sabreen began as a rock group and transitioned into a nonprofit in 1987.
Continue reading “Arts Administration Faculty Develop Course with Palestinian Arts Organizations (Part 1)”

Dr. Mangione explores ‘The Senses: Design Beyond Vision’, on view at the Cooper Hewitt

We had been in the exhibition a while before I thought to double back to the entrance and inspect what I’d missed: the caramel-colored hand pump bottle, sitting proudly on a tall white sculpture pedestal. What was this? Pushing myself to interact with the bottle rather than first read its label, I squirted some cool, viscous mixture into my hand and then extended my hand to my husband, David. He took a deep whiff before promptly backing away from me and shaking his head. “Wow. What does it smell like?” I asked, amused. “It’s really strong…” he paused. “Hmmm. It’s like if you took a sip of vodka when you thought it might be water.”


This “ritual cleanse” (I did read the label in the end) was just one stop on our visit to The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, on view at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum through October 28. The exhibition features more than 65 design projects and more than 40 objects and installations dedicated to – as the exhibition’s entrance sign spells out in a bold, goldenrod headliner – the senses from a to z.



What were the other stops? Among them: a wall of thick, plush synthetic fur that plays different tones and notes depending on where you touch it, so that curious visitors create a collective orchestra. Chairs and headphones that together stimulate the sounds and sensations of random, improbable events described in projections on the floor at your feet (“falling backwards into a tub of Jell-O;” “an avalanche of frozen peas.”) Interactive stations playing original music compositions inspired by our taste of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

Contemporary museums – and particularly, art museums – are organized around vision. As students and I discuss in ARAD’s Access and the Arts seminar, it wasn’t always this way. The earliest museums encouraged touch, believing it a valuable way for the elites who visited to experience artifacts on view. By the mid-nineteenth century, an array of factors – including, most significantly, the rise in museums’ public access – created the museum of sight we today take for granted. While many have debated the limits of the “look, don’t touch” model, lately there has been increasing scholarly and professional interest in what Nina Levent and Alvaro Pascual-Leone have called “the multi-sensory museum.” This shift has been catalyzed in large part by increased attention to museum accessibility: efforts to break down barriers to promote participation for all visitors, regardless of ability. As the introductory wall text for Design Beyond Vision highlights, sensory design is physical, it enhances experience, and importantly, when done well, it is inclusive: “By activating multiple senses, designers embrace users with different needs.” In this way, multi-sensory exhibition design can challenge museums’ sensory hierarchies: the social orders through which people privilege particular forms of sensory experience over others.


At the Cooper Hewitt, I was thinking about sensory hierarchies in the context of my teaching and research. But I was also moved by the show as a visitor. As someone without a sense of smell, I’m often struck by how difficult it is for people to describe smells to me; sometimes they lack words completely. I don’t always think about my anosmia when visiting museums. However, wandering around The Senses: Design Beyond Vision I thought about it quite a bit, mainly because the show gave me ways to think about smell beyond museum walls. I spent time with scent wheels categorizing aromas and relating smell to color; sculptures pairing wafted smells with distinct textures; and a “smell map” of Amsterdam plotting out the association of smells not just with fragrance, but with memories. As we left, David commented how the show’s focus on synesthesia – the sensation of a sense stimulated by another sense – got him inspired to describe smells in ways that rely on sight, sound, and even simile. “It’s really strong” didn’t mean much to me. But I understood how much it might knock you out to take a sip of vodka when you thought it was water. In this way, the exhibition gave us new ways to think, talk about, and share our experiences of the world: in short, it did well what museums do best.



Faculty News: Prof. Jennifer Lena review of “Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display”

Contemporary Sociology cover

ARAD’s own Dr. Jennifer Lena recently published a review of Peggy Levitt’s “Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display” (2015).  The article, released in the January 2017 edition of Contemporary Sociology, reviews Levitt’s examination of how museums define and depict the identities of their local audiences.  In addition to appraising Levitt’s exploration of nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and cultural policy in museological practice, Dr. Lena also includes recommendations for educators who use the book as a class resource.

To read the full article, click here!

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Dubin

Dr. Dubin (far right) in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Dr. Dubin.

ARAD’s own Dr. Dubin took a moment to share with us what he’s been up to while on sabbatical this past year. Dr. Dubin spent time in South Africa, completed a one-month residency at Ucross (an artist/writer retreat in Clearmont, Wyoming), spent 5 weeks in Italy, and completed another one-month residency at the Rockefeller Foundation – sponsored retreat, Bellagio. Following the opening of his photography exhibition in early June, Dr. Dubin will finish his sabbatical with another trip to South Africa before returning to Teachers College for the Fall semester.

Continue reading “Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Dubin”

Faculty News: Q&A with Dr. Lena about the EMP Pop Conference and the World’s Worst Song Ever

pop_conference_get-ur-freak-onThis weekend (April 16-19) music scholars, journalists, and fans will be converging in Seattle to attend and present at the EMP Pop Conference. Dr. Jennifer Lena, ARAD professor and author of Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music (Princeton University Press, 2012), will be taking part in the conference as both conference committee member and panel moderator. Taking a short break from her busy schedule right before the conference, Dr. Lena sat down and answered a few questions about the theme of the conference and her (fabulous sounding) panel: “The Worst Song Roundtable.” Read more for her answers to our Q’s! Continue reading “Faculty News: Q&A with Dr. Lena about the EMP Pop Conference and the World’s Worst Song Ever”

Faculty News: Prof. Jennifer Lena on US Cultural Engagement with Global Muslim Communities

GIA Reader cover from artist Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979, Sitka, Alaska)

ARAD’s own Dr. Jennifer Lena recently published an article titled “US Cultural Engagement with Global Muslim Communities: Contours and Connections in an Emerging Field” with co-author Erin Johnston. The article, released in the Winter 2015 edition of GIA Reader, looks at the challenges Muslim artists experience when producing art to engage US audiences. In addition to surveying the difficulties the field faces, the authors also note that these challenges highlight opportunities for future cross-cultural exchanges, collaborations, and expansions of Muslim/Islamic art in the United States.

To read the full article, click here!

Faculty News: Prof. Steven Dubin talks “Global Contamination” at TEDxCaserta

16483257581_fcc402cdcb_q“By dredging toxins up to the surface, artists playing in the dirt may cleanse the body politic and allow us to view the world afresh.” -Dr. Steven Dubin

In early February, ARAD program coordinator and professor Dr. Steven Dubin was able to take a break from the cold and dreary New York weather to take part in a TEDx event held in Caserta, Italy. The theme, Global Contamination, brought together a wide variety of speakers from Italy, Sicily, the US, Portugal, and Belarus who presented on topics as diverse as their backgrounds. The mastermind behind this event was none other than ARAD alum Valerio Borgianelli Spina, who graduated from the program in 2007! Continue reading “Faculty News: Prof. Steven Dubin talks “Global Contamination” at TEDxCaserta”