During their summer 2019 internships, students had the opportunity to participate in at least two Peer Group events. These spaces are meant to complement students’ experiences within their host organizations by allowing them to explore other facets of finding (or securing) a job, creating and maintaining an artistic practice, and more. Each Peer Group, led by a local arts professional, supports students in meeting other interns, building their network, and learning more about the arts ecology of the region. As part of the Arts Internship Program, students were required to attend at least two Peer Group meetings as part of their paid internship hours.

2019 Peer Groups were organized by theme, and participating interns were assigned to a Peer Group based on preferences they submit to the Department of Arts and Culture. Each theme was offered in multiple geographic regions of the County.

Below is the list of the themes offered in Summer 2019. Click on the theme to see a short description, information on the Peer Group Leader, and the general area where the Peer Group events took place.

Arts Education

Alice Dutton

Alice DuttonLocation: Mid-Wilshire
Description: Quality arts programs are shown to have a positive impact on student development; and arts education, in all its forms, represents the vital first step towards fostering an inclusive, vibrant artistic community. In our group, we will explore our local arts ed environment, taking stock of the wealth of opportunities, as well as the inequities of our current system

Alice Dutton is Director of Community Engagement for the American Youth Symphony. Originally from Florida, she moved to Los Angeles after college and joined the AYS staff in 2011. This will be Alice's eighth summer working with LACAC interns, and her third time serving as a Peer Group Leader.

Debra Pasquerette

Debra PasqueretteLocation: Weho/Beverly
Description: Arts learning has many facets-- connecting audiences with the very best in the performing arts; using the power of the arts to build community and address pressing social issues; and responding to critical needs in the greater community through arts leadership, collaboration and partnership. This group will dive into the many diverse ways we approach arts education.

Debra Pasquerette is the Manager of Community Engagement at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. She was previously the Director of Education at The Geffen Playhouse and has worked in the field for over 25 years. She is dedicated to bringing arts learning to diverse audiences and connecting community through the arts.

Manuel Prieto

Manuel PrietoLocation: East LA/Boyle Heights
Description: The Arts Education track will provide leadership development, networking, research, and tools that empower LACAC interns with models and tools to create equitable systems and strong policies which strengthen the arts education ecosystem. Through our time together, we will seek to understand and unify diverse stakeholders, including teaching artists, cultural and education sector leaders, the business community, parents, and young people, to create change in our community and beyond. In our first session, we will develop skills in pedagogy and educational management. Our second session will be focused on arts and education policy, and how to prepare ourselves to be marketable teaching artists or arts administrators.

Manuel Prieto is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Music and Art School (LAMusArt). LAMusArt’s mission is to provide all students regardless of their race, gender, socioeconomic status and ability to engage and succeed in the arts. Under his leadership, LAMusArt has increased participation on its Board of Directors by 50%, increased opportunities for local students to enroll in tuition-free music ensemble programs by 75%, and created an advisory council of young professionals that not only fundraises on behalf of the organization, but also serves as training in board governance. Prior to joining LAMusArt, Prieto worked as a Teaching Artist and administrator with Center Theatre Group and as a designer for various major networks and regional theatres. Prieto holds a BFA. from the University of Southern California in Theatre Design with an emphasis on education and a MA in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University.

Arts and Social Justice: Cross Sector Work

Sara Ford

Sara FordLocation: Inglewood
Description: In our group, we'll be focusing on collaboration, and how working across different sectors can change the way art is experienced by those who need it most. My goal is to provide a space where interns are exposed to new and different ways of thinking about art exposure, and each intern leaves the group with a stronger understanding of the dynamicity of the arts!

Sara Ford is driven by her passions for art, creativity, and making real change happen. She received her Bachelor of Music in French Horn Performance from the University of Southern California in 2013, and then went on to get her Master of Music Performance from Indiana University in 2015. After working across the nonprofit sector for 8 years, she is now the Executive Director of Free Arts, an organization that uses art to restore self-esteem and resiliency in children who have experienced abuse, poverty, neglect, and/or homelessness.

Jennifer Fukutomi-Jones

Jennifer Fukutomi-JonesLocation: Downtown
Description: The arts and social justice have fueled movements, mobilized communities and inspired people to take action and advocate for access and equality. Through this peer group, you will have the opportunity to create meaningful dialogue with artists and organizations who are the change agents in their communities, and learn more about what it means to curate an art-engaged social justice movement.

Jennifer Fukutomi-Jones is a native Angeleno who currently serves as the Director of Programs with Arts for LA, and has previously worked with the Ford Theatre Foundation, The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company and LA Opera. In addition to being passionate about cultivating community dialogue through the arts, Jennifer enjoys watching classic old movies, indulging in Hot Cheetos, and being a mom to a rambunctious and laugh-loving toddler.

Omar R. Ramirez

Omar R. RamirezLocation: East Los Angeles
Description: Peer Group Description to come.

Omar G. Ramirez's methodology is rooted in Chicanx Art, specifically the intersection of art in public spaces and community transformation. He uses a Restorative Cultural Arts Practice by holding space for collaboration, participation, and engagement. It’s a process that facilitates and encourages transformation, focusing on dynamic interactions that address the social and emotional needs of participants and audiences while limiting object monetization. Omar G. Ramirez has been facilitating, participating, and collaborating for over 20 years in community spaces, educational institution, and with incarcerated populations.

Arts and Social Justice: Art in Community

Lisa DeSmidt

Lisa DeSmidtLocation: San Pedro/Long Beach
Description: The Peer Group led by the Arts Council for Long Beach will dive deep into topics pertaining to Social Justice and Art in Community. The Arts Council has led many Community based projects such as the Cambodia Town Mural Project. The peer group will learn from community partner organizations such as MOLAA and Long Beach Opera. Some topics include: cultural appropriation in the arts, partnerships with social justice organizations and arts organizations, and arts equity and access when funding the arts.

Lisa DeSmidt, Director of Programs, is a Long Beach-based artist who received a 2013 Arts Council grant as part of the A LOT program. She has a professional background in marketing, event coordination, community outreach and curation. She is also a business owner and in addition to working at the Arts Council has helped run a successful local business since 2009. She holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from CSULB and has shown work in museums and galleries locally and internationally. This is Lisa’s 3rd year as an LACAC Peer Group leader and she has supervised more than 10 interns since she started with the Arts Council for Long Beach in 2015.

Natalie Marrero

Natalie MarreroLocation: Hollywood
Description: This peer group will travel throughout Los Angeles County to explore how communities use art as a tool for engaging with social justice.

Natalie Marrero currently serves as the Executive Director of Viver Brasil Dance Company. Passionate about placemaking for communities through art practices, Marrero has dedicated her career to preserving culture.


Alma Villegas

Alma VillegasLocation: MacArthur Park
Description: Previously having served as a Peer Group Leader, I am pleased to lead LACAC Summer 2019 Interns interested in Arts and Community. We will explore themes of Public Transportation and Community Arts, focusing on ways the arts create modes of both personal expression and community building. We will partner with Metro for a Metro Art Station Tour/Workshop. Also, we will visit LACMA’s satellite gallery at Charles White Elementary School in MacArthur Park to view the retrospective art exhibition of famed mid-century artivist, professor, and local community artist Charles White.

Recently promoted as Director of Development and Communications, Alma Villegas joined artworxLA in 2010. A career marked with a focus in the arts and community impact, she has developed and overseen projects for Apple, Capitol Records, and Warner Bros. Her Transportation projects include facilitating community support for Metro’s Purple Line Extension (DEIR & EIR). At Geffen Records, she worked on artwork for now-classic albums by Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Co-founder and Business Director of chamanvision, a literary/arts studio, with husband Artist/Writer Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca.

A Career as an Artist

Robert Crouch

Robert CrouchLocation: Pasadena
Description:The peer group, A Career as an Artist, will be of particular interest to those students who wish to pursue a professional creative practice. We will share our individual work ad professional goals, and discuss how to develop an arts career within the context of lessons learned during the course of our internships.

Robert Crouch is an artist and curator whose work encompasses sound, performance, and technology. In 2014 he organized the North American premiere of Sphæræ, a large-scale inflatable performance space and public artwork by Dutch artist Cocky Eek. In 2017 he co-curated Juan Downey: Radiant Nature, a survey of early interactive and performance work of the late Chilean artist as part of the Getty initiative, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Crouch is currently the Executive and Artistic Director for Fulcrum Arts and the Artistic Director for the A×S Festival. He has released work on experimental labels Dragon’s Eye Recordings, Line, and Touch, and is published by Touch Music.

Karen Mack

Karen MackLocation: Leimert Park
Description:Karen Mack's peer group this summer will focus on the unique and powerful role of artists working in communities. Participants will have an opportunity to interact with artists experienced in working on community art projects and learn specific tools for engaging in this work through direct participation.

Karen Mack is founder and Executive Director of LA Commons, a South LA based organization dedicated to promoting Los Angeles' diverse neighborhoods through locally based, interactive, artistic and cultural programming. For nearly twenty years, she has developed initiatives that reflect the unique character of these places with the goal of fostering interaction, dialogue and a better understanding of Los Angeles.

Bronwyn Mauldin

Bronwyn MauldinLocation:Downtown
Description:How do you maintain your artistic practice while working a full-time career? How can you use your artistic skills to help with your job search? This peer group will explore these questions with a focus on writing, but interns with any artistic practice are welcome.

Bronwyn Mauldin leads the Research and Evaluation division at the LA County Department of Arts and Culture, where she uses data and social science to improve access to the arts for all residents of LA County. She’s also a novelist and zine maker.

Tiffany Moon

Tiffany MoonLocation:Weho/Beverly
Description:What is the path to creating a career as an artist? Is it a straight line, or are there detours? If there are detours, how do you stay focused on the art? This group will explore the many journeys to developing a career as an artist while also making a living, and will focus on how to merge those paths into one.

Tiffany Moon is a producer, director, dramaturge, and theatre manager devoted to the development and production of new works. She is Producing Director of Greenway Arts Alliance/Greenway Court Theatre and an Associate Artist of Ojai Playwrights Conference, and currently serves on the board of the Theatre Producers League of Los Angeles.


Brian Elerding

Brian ElerdingLocation: Pasadena
Description: LA has a thriving theater scene in and around the television and film industry. In this peer group we'll explore how to start off as actors, writers, and creators in film, theate,r and television. We'll speak with theater makers, actors, writers, and others, and explore how to make a fulfilling career in the industry that has no road map.

Brian Elerding is the executive director of the Lineage Performing Arts Center, the Artistic Director of the Ensemble Shakespeare Theater, and an actor in film, TV, and commercials.

Gia Jordahl

Gia JordahlLocation: Torrance
Description: Do you know what it takes to put up a show? The various positions and responsibilities of those involved? In this peer group we will go behind-the-scenes and examine the process and personnel needed to get a show to the stage. We will also explore how a theater company can function, survive, and thrive in a government setting; and even step right into the process of mounting a full-scale musical. (This peer group has a nighttime event that includes a panel discussion with the production team, and a visit to rehearsal.)

Gia Jordahl is the producing artistic director for Torrance Theatre Company. She joined the City of Torrance Cultural Services Division in 1998, and was tasked with creating a theater program. In the last 20 years, she has produced over 90 productions in various theaters and venues throughout Torrance, coordinated theater classes, camps and workshops, organized outreach programs, and worked to keep the arts part of the conversation in the city. She has been involved with the LACAC Internship program as a supervisor for 10 years, and loves sharing her passion for theatre with the next generation of advocates and leaders. She is a native of the South Bay area, and a graduate of UCLA.

Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx

Jonathan Muñoz-ProulxLocation: Pasadena
Description: This peer group will invite conversation about LA’s theatre landscape with a focus on the role of the artist and on strategies for making and finding work as a theatre creator. The group will be customized to support the career goals of the individual artist (actor, director, designer, choreographer)—including introductions to relevant theatres, support building artistic community, and skills for articulating the artist’s credo (or vision) to most effectively inspire others.

Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx serves as Director of Cultural Programming at A Noise Within Theatre and is an Ovation Award-nominated director whose work focuses on queer, latinx, and mixed/bicultural identities. He has worked with Center Theatre Group, East West Players, Boston Court Theatre, Skylight Theatre Company, 24th Street Theatre, Playwrights' Arena, Pacific Resident Theatre, Chalk Rep, EST/LA, Bootleg Theater, After Hours Theatre Company, and Watts Village Theatre Company, among others.

Raphaelle Ziemba

Raphaelle ZiembaLocation: Downtown
Description: Our theme will focus on how we engage and communicate with others and our community. This summer we will experience interactive performances and community engagement activities through dance/movement/site-specific theatre to reimagine the connection between performers, administrators, and participants. As we uncover new ways to create or view site-specific, culturally impactful works of the performing arts, we will look for new, unintended ways to experience space and discover reciprocity. The questions we will try to answer are: What’s alive? What’s buried? What’s current? What’s forgotten? and How can we help the community be inspired?

Originally from Chicago, IL, Raphaelle Ziemba has been a professional dancer for the past 20 years. Growing up, she attended Interlochen Arts Academy and after graduating, continued her dance training at the State University of New York at Purchase where she earned a BFA in Dance Performance. In 2013, Raphaelle completed her Masters of Arts in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was Co-Artistic Director of Cerqua River Dance Theatre and Community Engagement Manager for the leading dance service organization in Chicago, Audience Architects. Currently, Raphaelle is enjoying working for Heidi Duckler Dance as Programs Director and has recently been selected for the Annenberg Alchemy Tech 2019.

Work Readiness

Nina Crowe

Nina CroweLocation: Glendale/Eagle Rock
Description: Do you believe you are ready for a job after college? Would you be surprised to find out that 1 in 3 employers think recent college graduates are NOT well prepared? In this Peer Group you will discover how to apply the knowledge and skills from real-world settings (including critical thinking, writing, and oral communication), set yourself apart, and prove to that future employer (and yourself) that you ARE ready!

Nina Crowe leads the Development & Community Partnerships at Glendale Arts, the non-profit organization that powers the Alex Theatre. She oversees the fundraising and sponsorship efforts, community relations, and volunteer coordination for the Alex Theatre and our community programs Taste Walk Glendale and the Open Arts & Music Festival.

Brittany Gash

Brittany GashLocation: Culver City
Description: Work Readiness goes beyond simply being ready to move into the job market. It involves using your skills, experiences, resources, and network in ways that will help you reach your career goals. In this group, you can expect opportunities to network, meet, and learn from leaders in the arts field, get tips and strategies for work readiness, and experience some wonderful LA art.

Brittany Gash is the Development & Marketing Manager at Invertigo Dance Theatre. With 12 years of Marketing and Development experience, she has spent the majority of her career as an independent consultant within the nonprofit arts and has had the pleasure of working with a variety of arts organizations from theatre and music, to dance, visual art, and film.

Gerrie Maloof

Gerrie MaloofLocation: Downtown LA
Description: Gerrie will present a program entitled How to Get a Job, How to Keep a Job and How to Build a Career. The focus will be on instruction for effective resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills; discussions about productive/destructive workforce behaviors; and tips for workplace advancement.

Gerrie Maloof has had extensive experience in Human Resources and Labor Relations in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and is currently the Senior Director of Labor Relations and Human Resources for Los Angeles Opera. Her undergraduate work in English and Music is augmented by an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. She is a proud Los Angeles native