Program manager works at nonprofit that heals children's emotional wounds through expressive, therapeutic books and programs.

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What do you do? I am the program manager at Art with Heart, a nonprofit that heals children’s emotional wounds through expressive, therapeutic books and programs. I oversee and develop programs and curriculum that support schools, hospitals and other nonprofit organizations that focus on fragile populations of children and teens. I nurture local partnerships so that our proven methods can heal and strengthen our community’s children.

How did you get started? I actually have a master’s degree in urban planning, and began working at a nonprofit that produced public art. Following that, I received an arts administration fellowship at the National Endowment for the Arts. I have 20 years experience working for nonprofits and have done everything from managing volunteers to fundraising to developing new programs.

What’s a typical day like? I spend a portion of my day ensuring that volunteers and staff are set for any healing workshops we have going on with children that day. I communicate with those using our resources to offer support and gather stories. I check in with our contract staff, curriculum developers, evaluators, and therapists that support our work. I often spend a portion of the day writing grants to support new program development.

What’s the best part of the job? It’s a toss-up between when we get drawings and letters from children around the world who have used our books and when we get to work directly with children doing art that heals! Recently, a 17-year-old cancer survivor told us, “Art with Heart changed my story. It makes it possible for me — and kids like me — to have hope, and dream once again.” A 10-year-old who lost a close friend due to an accident told me, “Art with Heart helped me get my feelings out so I could feel better.” I love that.

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What surprises people about the job? That I get paid to help kids heal through creativity! It’s such a great way to promote healing and help them cope better with all of life’s challenges.