Emerging Leader Fellowship

Travel to visit an arts organization, gain insight into their practice, and apply that inspiration to your own growth through the Emerging Leader Fellowship.

Announcing the 2024 TYA/USA Emerging Leader Fellows

TYA/USA has awarded the Emerging Leader in TYA Fellowship to 3 individuals:
ChelseaDee Harrison, Julia Hogan Laurenson, and Frank Ruiz.

ChelseaDee Harrison, Washington D.C.-based theater-maker, artivist, and public arts engagement specialist, will visit Honolulu Theatre for Youth in Hawaii to observe their culturally responsive educational programming and play-making processes in action. She is excited to learn how the company engages young people and their communities in imaginative programming that inspires empathy,  strengthens self esteem, and ignites critical thinking in a rapidly changing world.

ChelseaDee Harrison is a theater-maker, artivist, and public arts engagement specialist. She has facilitated community-based arts workshops with The Kennedy Center, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, Carnegie Hall, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and for survivors of human trafficking and their families. She is a tenured Teaching Artist with the New Victory Theater, a former New Victory Theater LabWorks artist, and a Teaching Artists Guild National Advisory Committee Member. She is a 2024 Arts and Humanities Fellow with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and a Practitioner Award Recipient from the Canady Foundation for the Arts. Most recently, her creative work includes researching and piloting the Free Black Chesapeake Project– a community, art and history experience. She is the executive producer, writer, and host of the warrior queen podcast, Vanguard of the Viragoes. She is the creator of the virtual healing experience, The Ritual of Repair and the writer of Home is Where The Fund Is: A Story of Southern Synergy, a new theater piece centering the work of abortion funds in the American South. Her inspiration is crafting multi-platform public engagement experiences that highlight history, challenge dominant narratives and ensure that art is a tool in the hands of the people. You can follow her work at linktr.ee/ChelseaDee

Julia Hogan Laurenson, St. Louis-based producer, artist and educator, will visit Filament Theatre in Chicago, IL to learn about youth-led curation practices. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to see the SPARK Youth Curators program in action in order to deepen her understanding of methodologies and strategies that center young people’s involvement and perspectives in programming selection and cultivation.

Julia Hogan Laurenson is the Associate Producer at Metro Theater Company, where she supports artistic productions and projects with a focus on new work and community partnerships. Alongside Jenny Millinger, Julia is co-editor of the anthology “I Have a Story: Plays From an Extraordinary Year,” which paired young people with professional playwrights to create short plays about their pandemic experiences. She is the former Executive Director for Seesaw Theatre, previously also serving as the Production Manager and Conference and Engagement Director, notably producing Seesaw’s Fourth Annual Inclusive Theatre Festival, a weekend-long conference dedicated to accessibility and inclusion in theatre in 2019. With a passion for developing new work, her recent dramaturgy credits include The Battlefields of Clara Barton by Suzan Zeder & Jenn Hartmann Luck and Without Wings by Ilana Abusch (an Imagine U and PLAYground Festival of Fresh Works collaboration). She has had the honor of interning with Childsplay and Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Julia is a graduate of Northwestern University with a BA in Theatre and History and Modules in Theatre for Young Audiences and Children & Communication.

Frank Ruiz, New York City-based artist and educator, will visit Smithsonian Folkways in Washington, D.C. to learn how the curators preserve, collect, and adapt recordings into lessons for young students. Looking at archival materials related to labor and protest songs, he plans to conduct research for a future TYA project. Frank is overjoyed for this opportunity to meet his passions for theater and music at the crossroads of activism and education.

Frank Ruiz (He/Him/El) is a first generation Nicaraguan American artist and educator with ADHD. Currently serving as the Education Coordinator for New York City Children’s Theater, he manages a residency program exploring how songwriting and theater can be used to support multilingual learners. With the NYCCT education team, he has presented at both the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability conference and the Arts for All Abilities conference.

His career transition into arts education was featured by NPR in a 2022 story highlighting how his personal experiences as a Latino artist informed his social justice based approach to education.

Recently, he assistant directed NYCCT’s touring production of ¡Corre, Abuelita, Run! As a director, his production of Una Noche En Tejas has been featured at The Brisk Festival L.A., The New York Theater Festival Winterfest, and the Equity Library Theater of New York Summer Festival (Winner – Best Play in Festival).

Hear from Fran Sillau (2020 Emerging Leader Fellow) about the impact of the Fellowship and TYA/USA on his work.