Meet the Team

Katie Rainey, Co-Executive Director (AR)

Katie (M.K.) Rainey (she/her) is a writer, teaching artist, and editor from Little Rock, Arkansas. She was formerly the Director of the Teaching Artist Project (TAP) at Community-Word Project and has been a teaching artist for over 10 years. She has taught poetry, fiction, theatre, photography, English as a second language and filmmaking in various parts of the world. For the last six years, Katie has been teaching at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens, working with their 9th grade students on creative writing and using their art-making for activism. As a facilitator for TAP, Katie leads workshops for adults on social-emotional learning, curriculum building, career development, creative writing, and more. Formerly, Katie served as a Co-Chair of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Teaching Artist Affairs Committee and was a part of the 2018 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Emerging Leaders Boot Camp. Katie is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lit Hub, Writer’s Digest, The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, and more. You can see more about her work here:

Kerry Warren, Co-Executive Director (NY)

Kerry Warren (she/her) is a New York based actor and teaching artist. She strives to create a classroom of joy and rigor and hopes to make classical texts such as Shakespeare more relatable and accessible to her students. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School where she received The President Polisi Prize for Artist as Citizen. She has taught with Harlem Children’s Zone, Lincoln Center Education, G!RLBEHEARD, People’s Theatre Project, the 52nd Street Project, EPIC theatre, on the Teaching Artist Advisory Board at ArtsConnection, and a member of NYC Artist in Education Roundtable.

As an actor she has performed on Broadway, Off Broadway, and regionally. Some of her favorite credits include The River with Hugh Jackman, Much Ado About Nothing with the Mobile Unit at The Public directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah that toured to prisons and community centers in all five boroughs and Romeo and Juliet at Dallas Theater Center. Catch her on this season of New Amsterdam on NBC and listen to her on Audible with Lili Taylor in Rapture Season. She is a proud member of AEA & SAG-AFTRA.

Shayla James, California Network Regional Coordinator

Shayla James (she/her) resides in San Diego on Kumeyaay Land. She balances her time as a teaching artist, arts administrator, and researcher in the arts and culture sector. Her work is rooted in community and collaboration with others across disciplines. She enjoys being a facilitator in youth and adult creative spaces. 

She is the creator and co-lead of Teaching Artist Circle, a community space that centers Teaching Artist voices of San Diego County. She is also a multi-instrumentalist with over 15 years of experience in the performing arts as a performer and educator. She is the owner of Sempre Music Studio, a creativity focused studio that offers a flexible, responsive and trauma informed music curriculum. Additionally, she has been a teaching artist with local San Diego organizations/schools: Villa Musica, Blindspot Collective, Arts Education Connection San Diego (formerly Arts for Learning San Diego), Nightingale Music, and the San Diego Opera. 

She is currently the San Diego Creative Youth Development Network Director, and is also a Research Associate at RISE Research & Evaluation. Her research focuses on arts assessment and evaluation, racial and cultural equity in the arts, cultural policy, and social emotional learning. Ms. James is currently the Secretary for the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition (SDRACC) board. She is Chair Emeritus of Rising Arts Leaders San Diego. She is also a committee member of the Arts, Culture, and Design Committee for the Port of San Diego and the Arts Empower Advisory Committee. 

As the California Regional Network Coordinator, she is excited to support and connect to Teaching Artists statewide. She is looking forward to hearing about the varying experiences Teaching Artists have and hearing about what they need three years after the onset of the pandemic crisis. She is here to listen, observe, and offer space for those in the Teaching Artist field.

Nicole Taylor, Regional Network Leader CAC
Master Teaching Artist and operatic soprano, Nicole Taylor, is founder of Creativity Through Music, a cultural consulting agency that serves corporations, community organizations, government agencies, and schools through:
1. Cultural Diplomacy & Arts Advocacy
2. Creativity Consulting & Arts-based team building for healthy company cultures
3. Music Education & Community Outreach
4. Concerts & Cultural Events 
A senior Arts Envoy of the U.S. Department of State since 2010, Nicole Taylor has traveled across the globe offering concerts, masterclasses & educational outreach programs for promoting understanding, compassionate communication, & building intercultural bridges. She has taught 150+ music education outreach programs in 15+ countries across the Middle East, North Africa & Europe.
Ms. Taylor holds a Masters degree from The Juilliard School in NY & has 25+ years of personal practice & training. She has taught masterclasses at Franz Liszt Academy & Kodaly Institute in Hungary, Royal Danish Academy of Music in Denmark, Dar Al Kalima University in Palestine, & Franco American Institute in France. She is a Partner Artist for NY-based NPO Sing For Hope, the largest recurring Public Arts project in the USA, known for dedication to Art for All, civic engagement, & cultural diplomacy. In 2021 she was featured in the Visiting American Professionals Program, sponsored by US Embassy Iraq in Baghdad & IREX, an NPO for global development & education.
After a Carnegie Hall debut in 2006, soprano Nicole Taylor was soloist in Zemlinsky’s Psalm 83 at Ring Festival LA with James Conlon. World-premiere ensembles include: Suite for Peace by Kenny Burrell; Tribute concert with DeeDee Bridgewater, Lalo Schifrin, B.B. King, & Stevie Wonder; Sir Paul McCartney’s oratorio Ecce Cor Meum with Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall; Eliott Goldenthal & Julie Taymor’s opera Grendel for Lincoln Center Festival; Olan Jones’ The Woman in the Wall at Overtone Industries LA. Solo recitals: Le Panthéon UNESCO Journée International du Jazz Paris with Thelonius Monk Institute LA; UNESCO World Heritage Site Pannonhalma Monastery Hungary; Sugrįžimai Festivalis Lithuania. Opera Ensembles: San Francisco Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Sarasota Opera, Lincoln Center Festival & Mostly Mozart Festival (NYC), NY Harlem Productions “Porgy & Bess”.
Nicole Taylor is the new Artistic & Program Director of the “Arts in Schools” pilot program, in collaboration with the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, and funded by the California Arts Council. This program will make a 360 degree view of visual arts careers available to 17,000+ students in the Oxnard Union Highschool District in 2023/24.  
In 2023, Nicole founded Music at Portside, a classical concert series, to share her love of chamber music and to increase opportunities to listen to live classical music in Ventura County.

To learn more about Nicole Taylor:



Follow Creativity Through Music on IG: @creativity.throughmusic

TAG Leadership Document

Board of Directors

Kai Fierle-Hedrick, President (NY)

Kai Fierle-Hedrick (she/her) is Founder and Facilitator at Create Knowledge, Kai is currently based in Colorado, and has over 15 years of experience working at the intersection of learning, evaluation, organizational change, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. As a consultant, Kai has co-facilitated local, regional, and national projects with foundations, coalitions, nonprofits, and youth and adult community members and organizers working on/in social-emotional learning, educational equity, affordable housing, hunger, racial justice, and the arts. Prior to consulting, she spent nine years working in youth and community development at the nonprofit Free Arts NYC, lastly as Chief Program Officer, where she built long-term relationships with staff, young people, and families at over 20 community partner organizations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. And her facilitation skills were first honed via 6 years of collaborating with young people and adults as a writer and teaching artist in the UK and the US. In addition to a joint BA in Art History and English Literature (McGill University) and a Master of Philosophy in Architecture and the Moving Image (University of Cambridge), Kai holds graduate certificates in Teaching to Inspire Learning (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Leading Equity and Inclusion in Organizations (Northwestern University), and she is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory®. 

Kayla Jackmon, Co-Chair Finance Committee(NY)
Kayla Jackmon is a teaching artist, actor, and finance professional with a passion for serving in many roles of arts education. She is currently a teaching artist and business manager with Opening Act, centering the voices of students of color through free theater programming and also recently joined the Board of the Teaching Artists Guild. Through Opening Act, she was the Middle School Theatre Studio Teaching Artist with the Arts Office’s Summer Arts Institute, a facilitator for the Citywide Theatre Professional Learning/PD Series, and the Theater Coordinator for the All IN(clusive) All-City Theatre Ensemble. She has trained with The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Stand Up for Shakespeare initiative and Marquis Studios. As an actor, Kayla has performed at La Mama, the Humana Festival, and is an alumni of the Actors Theatre of Louisville Acting Apprenticeship.
Heleya de Barros, Treasurer (CA)
Heleya de Barros is an actor, teaching artist, and arts education advocate whose work focuses on how to use theatre skills across disciplines and subject areas. An adjunct professor in the Youth Development program at Highline College, Heleya was previously the Director of Arts Education at Arts Corps where she oversaw arts programming for 3,000+ students each year with partners across King County. She has worked in arts education and youth development in California, New York, and Washington with such organizations as The New School College for Performing Arts, Lincoln Center Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, The Center for Arts Education, The Geffen Playhouse, The Los Angeles Music Center, and 24th Street Theatre. Heleya sits on the Advisory Councils for Classical KING FM Arts Education and Highline College Applied Bachelors Committee, and is a board member of the Franklin High School Alumni Association & Foundation and the Teaching Artists Guild. 
Marissa Ontiveros, Secretary (NY)

Marissa Ontiveros is a Chicanx, Brooklyn-based teaching artist and arts administrator committed to dismantling barriers of access within NYC school systems and centering, amplifying, and celebrating the voices of BIPOC youth. She has proudly served as a teaching artist for multidisciplinary performance with humans of (almost) every age, size, and ability in partnership with Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Acting Lab, Learning Extended Arts Programs (LEAP), St. Nick’s Alliance Brooklyn Art Exchange, and CO/LAB Theater Group, where CO/LAB Theater Group which aims to give individuals with developmental disabilities a creative and social outlet through theater arts. She specializes in centering students’ identities and celebrating creative choice through movement, storytelling, puppetry, and play.   

A powerful experiences for her was being a PERFORMING ARTS LEGACY (PAL) fellow and part of creating an online platform to document and represent the careers of older performing arts professionals created by the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) at The Actors Fund (AF). As well as recently completing a 6 week trauma-informed teaching praxis through peer exchange and support, facilitated by Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation and joining the Ars in Educations Teaching Arstis  Advocacy Subcommittee in 2021. 

She received her BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, receiving her theatre training from Stella Adler Studio of Acting and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. 

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We work in close partnership with our National Advisory Committee.