Our Staff

BARBARA JOHNSON
Founder & Executive Director

Barbara holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from The University of Wyoming and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from The University of Maryland. She is a candidate for the Master’s of Art Education degree from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. In 2013 Barbara received the Outstanding Scholar Award from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania for her work advancing art education nationally through her publication efforts and national speaking engagements. Click here to read more >


KELLY WEISS
Associate Director

Kelly Weiss spent most of her early life growing up between Florida and Georgia and holds a BS in Elementary Education from Florida State University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching Museum Education from George Washington University. She has 10 years of experience working with students of all ages (pre-k through adults) in various educational settings, and has been working in DC-based museums and non-profits for 2 years. She brings a life-long appreciation for the arts and passion for arts education. Her experience in the hospitality industry provides Kelly with a unique skill set that brings together educational expertise, administrative and customer service skills, and an ability to think globally about organizational needs and strategies.


VERNITTA TYSON
Director of Administration

With over twenty-five years of experience in the nonprofit sector, VerNitta brings a great deal of expertise to the Art Works Now team. VerNitta has worked in a variety of roles including development, marketing, and administration. She served as Interim Director of The Ellington Fund for Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and in several important roles of leadership at the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing and IONA Senior Services in Washington, DC. Her passion for the arts and her command of the skills needed for nonprofit administration are essential to the future success of Art Works Now.


NATALIE ZEITZ
Program Coordinator & Director of Summer Camps

Natalie Zeitz was born and raised South of Atlanta in Peachtree City, GA. She earned her BA in Visual Studies from Tyler School of Art, Temple University of Philadelphia, PA in 2014. After spending time in Washington State and Yosemite National Park in California, she arrived in Maryland in 2017. Natalie adores the arts community here, and has worked in a variety of environments including art focused institutions, camps, and as a childcare provider. She is skilled in database management and has strong customer service and logistics skills.


NORI SAKHA
Marketing & Communications Associate

Nori Sakha is a graphic designer and native of Hyattsville, Maryland. She holds a BA in Graphic Communication from University of Maryland University College and has studied Studio Art at University of Maryland. With experience in both creative work and child teaching, Nori manages the social media, marketing, and graphic design needs of Art Works Now. She has a deep appreciation for the visual arts as well as art history. And as an illustrator, she enjoys taking part in several mediums such as painting, drawing, and crafting. 


ASSATA TeRrELl
advancement Associate

Assata Terrell was born and raised in Prince George’s County and was one of the first Art Works Now students in 2011. She studied fashion studies and journalism for her undergraduate studies at Columbia College Chicago, with a focus on film and the humanities. She then went on to study museum studies and arts administration at Drexel University. After seven years away, she has finally returned to Maryland to work in a field where she can write and do research, be creative, and support the community. Assata focuses on development, fundraising events, and donor management at Art Works Now.


 
 

Our Teaching Artists

 
 
 

Rachel Cross

Rachel Ann Cross is an artist, musician, and educator who has been working in the DC area for over 25 years. Her vibrant artistic vision and sense of social justice are heavily informed by her experiences growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s.

As a musician, educator, and visual artist, Rachel has had the distinct pleasure of working with people of all ages and abilities including at-risk elementary school students, children and adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, deaf actors and choreographers, political activists, incarcerated teenagers, teenagers in mental health facilities, college students, musicians, dancers, and visual artists from all around the world, senior citizens, folk singers, and kindergartners.

Rachel holds a BFA in fine arts from the Corcoran School of Art. She also studied in N.Y. and Paris through Parsons School of Design. Rachel is currently artist-in-residence for the City of Greenbelt, MD.


Meghan Graham

Meghan Graham was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Meghan graduated from Delaware College of Art and Design where she received her Associates in Fine Arts. Shortly after graduating, Meghan moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in art. While in California, she taught ceramics to elementary school children across Santa Monica. Little did Meghan know, teaching art to children would bring her so much joy. After a year of living in Los Angeles, she moved back to Maryland to continue her newfound love of teaching art. Meghan has been with Art Works Now since October 2016, and loves working with students from Hyattsville Elementary in our Art Club after school program, teaching private lessons, and summer camp.


Corey Disher

Corey Disher is a Deaf artist. From Winston-Salem, NC, Corey has lived all over the Eastern Coast. They went to Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts to take some art classes, then transferred to Gallaudet University in 2016. Corey is obsessed with H.R. Giger’s artwork, and makes pen and ink drawings exploring queer, Deaf, and alternative communities. Corey currently works at Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center since 2017.


Jenny Wright

Jenny joins us from the land of little learners! She previously taught in a traditional preschool environment working with children ages 2 - 4. Now “retired” from full-time teaching, she is thrilled to be a part of the Art Works Now teaching team. In her weekly “Preschool ARTventure” program, she is delighted to offer comprehensive, arts-based learning experiences for young children.

Jenny uses her teaching skills in conjunction with her interest in art history and fine arts to introduce very young children to the great works of master artists and to expose them to the fundamentals of art and design in an age-appropriate play-based way. She is passionate about fostering child-led creativity and individual expression through open-ended art projects. She absolutely loves story time and is always excited to witness the spark of creativity and imagination that a great read-aloud story can inspire!

She is a Maryland native and resides in Riverdale Park with her family.


Sarahi Madrigal

Sarahi is a first-generation immigrant. She was born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. She holds a Bachelor in Visual Arts with an orientation in Photography. Sarahi formerly volunteered as a guide and photographer for the University of Guadalajara Wildlife Rescue Center in the Pacific Coast of Mexico. She is a trained Montessori Assistant in Primary and Elementary levels by the Washington Montessori Institute. With over 5 years of experience working with children, her goal is to create art lessons that follow the child’s development while they have fun getting messy! She enjoys spending time with her family and her three boys, outdoors, rock climbing and hiking. She is looking forward to getting a Masters in Education or Montessori Teacher training in the near future.

Kaz King

Kaz King is a young artist and native of Prince George’s County. He is currently studying at Prince George’s Community College, Kaz has worked in the community with children since 2008. Inspired by many different forms of art, Kaz grew up admiring the variety of styles and techniques of popular comic book artists and animators. Kaz currently leads our Art Club after school program as well as teaches in several other programs.


Brandon Green

Brandon was born in Washington, D.C and reared in Maryland. Even at a very young age Brandon had a fascination with art, specifically character design and animation. He would eventually take his passion and attend the former Capital Children’s Museum's Animation Program. In this program, he worked on a collaboration clay animation project called the “Looney Toon”, which would win a Nickelodeon Telly Award. He would later serve as one of the counselors, in which he helped students realize their own art ideas.

Brandon attended Savannah College of Art & Design and graduated with a BFA in Animation. He has a strong love for art, and relishes teaching children different ways to approach and see art to help them discover the artist within them.


Rayna Pazmiño

Rayna was born and raised in Maryland. At an early age she discovered her love for all things ceramic. She was trained at the Greenbelt Community Center for 7 years in wheel throwing. Rayna has further developed her expertise through numerous workshops, as well as an assistantship at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. Setting up her own home studio in 2013 she currently splits her time between making and selling her own work and teaching ceramics


Barbara Mandel

Barbara has a BA in Painting/Studio Arts from the University of Rochester and an MA in Art Therapy from George Washington University. As a certified art teacher and a registered art therapist, Barbara has helped children and adolescents express themselves through art in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, day treatment centers, community centers, public and private schools, and museums. Barbara was an art teacher at Lowell School, an independent lower school in Washington, DC for 14 years and the Middle School art teacher at The Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland from 2006-2016. She is currently a School Docent at the National Gallery of Art. Barbara has exhibited locally in juried shows at the Montgomery Art Association, Rockville Art League, Strathmore Hall, the Yellow Barn, Orchard Gallery, Bethesda Library, Gallery B in Bethesda, Brookside Gardens and the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation Fellowship Gallery. Among her favorite subjects are the French countryside and local landscapes, especially Montgomery County farms and the Potomac River.


Leah Schaperow

Leah is a multidisciplinary artist who focuses primarily on painting and ceramics. She teaches students of all ages in ceramics and painting. Her art has been featured in exhibitions throughout Maryland and DC, including the MD House of Delegates, Brookside Gardens, Visarts, Glen Echo Park, and Art Enables. She earned a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of Maryland.


Aaron Springer

Aaron has been a community arts educator in since 2003. Aaron was born in Detroit, MI and raised in the Washington D.C. area suburbs. Aaron is a Prince Georges County resident. He is a multimedia artist whose work ranges from photography, print, paint, performance, mixed media and assemblage. Since the age of four, the pursuit of expression through visual arts has played an important role in his life. By way his classes and workshops Aaron hopes to encourage others to feel confident expressing themselves on their journey of artistic process.