Meet Grace J. Choi, ARAD’s new Program Manager

ARAD is delighted to welcome Grace J. Choi as our new Program Manager. Learn more about Grace, her goals for her new role, and what she does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

Bay Area woman here! I grew up mainly in Palo Alto, California but also was partially raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where my Korean parents immigrated to as children before moving to the US as adults. After growing as an artist and writer at NYU (I majored in sculpture in the Studio Art program in Steinhardt), my interest in the intersection of the arts and technology developed upon revisiting where I “come from” and how different facets of my experience and upbringing could also be applied to designing learning experiences for others, particularly in cultural institutions.

What previous experiences have led you to your current role? 

Prior to coming to TC as the secretary for the Program in Social Studies at TC, I worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a few years in a specialized team within their Member and Visitor Services Department working closely with VIPs and corporate sponsors, education groups (K-12 and higher ed), and third-party tourism companies as my main three circles of clientele. I then had the pleasure of working with the faculty and staff in the Social Studies program for two and a half years, which really broadened my perspective on higher education settings, the challenges presented to faculty, staff and students alike in an academic structure, and the ongoing question of how to best support students so that they, in turn, can be best equipped to support their own communities.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

Leading up to this particular opportunity to work with ARAD as its new Program Manager, I have on multiple occasions revisited what it means to be a part of an ideal academic community. What does a program in that community look, act, and move like? What spaces and opportunities does it provide for students and staff? How are faculty supported in providing their students a robust, challenging and growth-oriented learning experience? In essence, what makes that program unique?

When we consider more community-based aspects of the spaces we inhabit– be they academic, professional, cultural, of any kind– I find that each person brings in such valuable insight because they genuinely care about belonging. Not only as professionals, but also as people and as global citizens. Having worked at a museum and as well as another program at TC beforehand, I find this uplifting– because who are we if we don’t take care of each other and those around us? 

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

The people! I consider myself extremely fortunate to join this community of burgeoning interdisciplinary professionals and leaders in the arts. Looking forward to meeting the students and supporting them through their journeys in ARAD and TC!

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

I wish I spent more time painting and drawing (continuing sculpture is just a little hard to do without a studio space), especially in the past year of staying in one place, but in the meantime I’ve also found pockets of peace in fishing in various quiet spots around NYC. I also really enjoy a good book– I’ve been reading Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology after wanting to get my hands on it for a long while, and can’t recommend it enough!

Meet Nigel Finley, ARAD’s new Program Associate

ARAD is delighted to welcome Nigel Finley as our new Program Associate. Learn more about Nigel, his goals for his new role, and what he does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

I am originally from South Orange, New Jersey and graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. I earned my undergraduate degree at Rider University in Arts Administration with a theatre emphasis. 

What previous experiences have led you to your current role? 

Prior to Columbia University, I have worked at a multitude of arts and cultural institutions including the Harlem School of the Arts, State Theatre New Jersey, Artworks Trenton, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. In my most recent role as the Development Associate of the Harlem School of the Arts, I was a primary administrative support and frontline fundraiser working directly with senior staff to implement institutional fundraising strategy and goals.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

I actually originally entered my college career as a musical theatre major, however, after taking an Intro to Arts Administration class my freshman year, I decided I wanted to broaden my focus and learn how to make an impact both on and off the stage. In that class that I realized how entrenched my life had been in arts and cultural nonprofits and their essential influence on my educational growth. If it wasn’t for the many arts advocates, teachers, and particularly fundraisers in my community working to create access and diverse programming, than I would have missed out on a multitude of formative experiences. For that, I have found a passion for the support and advocacy of arts institutions and their programming.

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

I am most excited to be back in a collegiate setting! I think there is something special about the campus atmosphere that sparks inspiration, curiosity, and then discovery. I am excited to be a part of stewarding that experience for the current students at TC’s Arts Administration program. 

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

My interests span from walks in nature or reading random psychology articles, to creating an art piece or performing on stage. However, a large labor of love has been my participation as a founding team member of Aurway Repertory Theatre. Aurway is a network of emerging and professional ARTISTs based out of Newark, NJ, dedicated to the pursuit, presentation, and creation of culturally relevant art through the lens of black and brown people. Through community partnerships, educational workshops, and public performances we create a space for artists and viewers alike to engage in a dialogue on pressing social issues while experiencing an unconventional approach to artmaking and theatrical performance. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

Nigel Finley is a Harlem-based artist and arts administrator with a background in fundraising and marketing for major NYC and NJ arts and cultural organizations including the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), State Theatre NJ, Artworks Trenton, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). He is also a founding team member at Aurway Inc., a Newark-based repertory theatre company. Nigel graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in Arts Administration with a Theatre emphasis.

Meet Joanna Calhoun, ARAD’s new Social Media Coordinator

ARAD is delighted to welcome Joanna Calhoun (ARAD ’23) as our new Social Media Manager. Learn more about Joanna, her goals for her new role, and what she does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

I am from West Monroe, Louisiana and I earned my undergraduate degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a Minor in Business Management.

What previous experiences have led you to your current role?

At Tulane University, I took classes in performing arts, visual arts, and business management, and I desired to pursue a career path that allowed me to combine all of these passions. During my undergraduate career, I worked with several arts organizations in Louisiana such as the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Make Music NOLA, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Each one of these roles helped me discover my love for arts administration and social media management.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

During my internships, I gained experience in writing blog posts and articles, conducting interviews, photographing events, creating digital content, and managing social media. I believe these experiences have properly prepared me for the position of Social Media Coordinator. I look forward to further developing my current skills as I am interested in pursuing a career in management, marketing, and social media at an arts organization when I graduate.

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

As an incoming student to the ARAD Program, I am very excited to get to know my cohort and collaborate with faculty, staff, and alumni! I am looking forward to using my experience and knowledge towards promoting and strengthening the ARAD program and community.

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

I have been a musician my entire life, and my primary instrument is the violin. You can most often find me playing the violin whether it be as a soloist, in a band, or in a symphony orchestra. My other hobbies include drawing and painting, thrifting, and photography. I also love exploring the city and going to new restaurants, museums, and concerts!

Joanna Calhoun is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University. She graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a minor in Business Management. At Tulane University, she was a classical violinist in the Tulane Symphony Orchestra throughout all her semesters. Joanna’s professional interests center around marketing, communications, social media management, event programming, and arts education.

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”

Arts Administration Announces Inaugural Microgrant Recipients

PRINT LOGO (THREE COLOR)The M.A. Program in Arts Administration (ARAD) at Teachers College, Columbia University is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the Microgrant for student professionalization.

Through the newly-initiated Microgrant Program, ARAD proudly supports student professionalization activities on campus and beyond. This award champions special projects proposed by Teachers College student groups (with ARAD student membership), as well as conference attendance for individual students in the ARAD program. Applications were invited through an open call process, and vetted by an ARAD faculty and staff selection committee.

ARAD congratulates the following student groups and individuals on their 2015-16 academic year awards:

Continue reading “Arts Administration Announces Inaugural Microgrant Recipients”

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”

New book series on Culture and Economic Life at Stanford University Press, co-edited by ARAD Professor Jennifer Lena!

The ARAD program congratulates our faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Lena, on a new book series she will be co-editing!

The series, Culture and Economic Life, acts as a forum for discussing the evolution, creation, and consequences of commerce and culture. Current theoretical and empirical debates span a wide variety of topics, and this series seeks to advance and stimulate discussions across these disciplines to provide an interdisciplinary look at how culture and economic life intersect. The series also informs a larger audience of policy and public debates in the for- and not-for-profit sectors.

This great news comes just after Dr. Lena’s book, Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music, was released as a paperback earlier this month.

Congratulations on these achievements, Dr. Lena!

Introducing the ARAD Alumni Committee!

With great pleasure, the ARAD Program and Alumni Committee Co-Chairs announce the inaugural ARAD Alumni Committee! We were thrilled to have received many strong applications for this initiative, including several outstanding candidates for the role of Co-Chair.

The first step in assembling the Committee was determining the second Co-Chair to assist with the selection of the nine remaining committee members. After careful consideration, 2011 graduate Priya Sircar has been appointed to this role. As a senior consultant at Lord Cultural Resources, Priya works nationally on cultural policy and planning initiatives, and she is looking forward to collaborating with ARAD to enrich the experiences of both alumni and current ARAD students.

Together, Co-Chairs Eric, Priya, and Program Manager, Jess reviewed the Committee applications and were gratified to see the dedication and care reflected in these submissions. Assembling an 11-member Committee reflecting the geographic, ethnic, and professional diversity of alumni, inclusive of graduates spanning the 34 years of the Program, was both an honor and a challenge. The resulting committee represents a passionate team, eager to serve the alumni community. The members of the inaugural 2014 Committee are:

                                                                    Shagorica Basu, 2002, California
                                                               Sarah Bolson Barnett, 2008, New York
                                                              Carolyn Charpie Fagan, 2012, New York
                                                                     Daniel Gallant, 2004, New York
                                                       Javier Iturralde de Bracamonte, 2010, New York
                                                                     Alison Kaplan, 1992, New York
                                                          Co-Chair: Eric Oberstein, 2009, North Carolina
                                                                      Yvonne Senouf, 1991, Greece
                                                           Michiko Simanjuntak Grasso, 2001, New York
                                                                 Co-Chair: Priya Sircar, 2011, New York
                                                                Amanda White Thietje, 2008, Minnesota

Please join us in congratulating this talented group of alumni on their new role with the ARAD Program. We welcome their participation and leadership in helping to steer the Program and community towards new heights in the years ahead.
       The Committee looks forward to getting started in service to ARAD alumni and students!

New Faculty: Jennifer Lena

By Alyssa Foster

Current ARAD Student, Arts & Humanities Writer


Dr. Jennifer Lena: Scholarly Muse

At the start of the Fall semester, Teachers College proudly welcomed Dr. Jennifer Lena as Associate Professor of Arts Administration. After receiving both her Masters and Ph.D. of Sociology at Columbia University, Dr. Lena ventured beyond New York for myriad academic pursuits around the country. Currently an active researcher and participant in many remarkable arts projects, Dr. Lena says she was beckoned back to Teachers College by “the prestige and wide spectrum of learning opportunities that an Ivy League school located in a world-renowned city offers.” Impressed by the wealth of knowledge and the boundless possibilities she encountered herself as a sociology student, Dr. Lena is enthusiastic that returning as a professor will allow her to positively influence the next generation of arts leaders.

The arts have always been intertwined with Dr. Lena’s academic interests since childhood. Growing up she was influenced by her uncle Benny Andrews, one of the African American artists and leaders in the Black Arts Cultural Coalition, and his efforts towards the inclusion of black curators in shows at the MET and the Whitney. Further influenced by the work of her sociologist father, Dr. Lena quickly became interested in studying the privileges that racial status can either provide or withhold. The inspiration for her research was later shaped by the mentorship of scholars she worked with as a graduate student, such as Peter Bearman and Harrison White.

As recent as 2010, Dr. Lena worked in collaboration with College of Charleston Professor Jonathan Neufeld to become the first sociologist to have commissioned a Grammy-nominated album. A collection of ensemble pieces by composer Gabriela Lena Frank, the album titled “Hilos” was the product of a $50,000 research grant made available to Vanderbilt faculty. At the time Dr. Lena applied for the grant, her co-commissioner, philosopher of aesthetics Professor Neufeld, had been reviewing the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the ALIAS Chamber Orchestra. ALIAS, an admirable chamber group of volunteer musicians donating their revenue to charities, was currently working with Frank to prepare music that would later be part of “Hilos.” Receipt of the grant provided Dr. Lena and Professor Neufeld the opportunity to finance Frank’s CD, as well as to benefit the charitable work of ALIAS. The Schubert Club soon decided to co-sponsor the album and Naxos Records was then involved to handle the formal recording process. Dr. Lena’s role in the MAC project is a quintessential example of how financial and academic support can benefit the artistic ventures of others.

While an arts patron, active researcher, academic advisor, and sociologist, Dr. Lena is also a prolific author. Her new book, Banding Together, was published in 2012 and examines in-depth how musical styles gain popularity along with the creative collaboration which permits it. As stated on her book jacket, Dr. Lena finds commonalities amongst 60 styles of American popular music to provide “a rare analysis of how music communities operate.” While conducting her research, primary and secondary sources were referenced to investigate the international music scenes of China, Nigeria, Serbia and Chile, in order to juxtapose their genres with those of the United States. Ultimately, Dr. Lena investigates the concept of what constitutes a genre from a sociological lens, positing that her definition is applicable not just to music but to the most inclusive spectrum of arts: from social movements to academia.

Dr. Lena is devoted to enriching the learning process through her dedication to her students and to her continuous socio-artistic research. Her passion is already felt and cherished as an invaluable presence within the Arts Administration department.