Our Team

Emily Carlson is the director of OMA Center for Mind, Body and Spirit’s program Art in the Garden. Art in the Garden engages a variety of modules that support youth in holding themselves and others in compassion and seeks to support youth in remembering the interconnectedness of all living beings, that we are all whole and all belong. Emily’s particular focus is supporting gifted and underserved youth. For over two decades, Emily has taught writing to students from elementary school to college. She also worked at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, led The Experiment in International Living’s program for high school students in Ghana, cared for horses in Italy and Brooklyn, NY, and studied poetry in Beirut through a grant from the Syria-Lebanon Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh. Emily is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Symphony No. 2 and I Have a Teacher. She lives with her partner Sten and their three children in a cohousing community.

Callie Gropp heads OMA Pittsburgh’s Surviving to Thriving Programs. A native of Pittsburgh, Callie earned a BA in History and African American/Black Studies from Oberlin College. She has been an educator since 2007, and increasingly she spends her time working to create awareness about the science of trauma and resilience. She is hopeful that through education, awareness, and advocacy we can establish Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), trauma, and all forms abuse as a major public health issue. In order to break cycles of silence and harm, Callie believes we must collaboratively respond to the collective arena of trauma and its effects throughout the generations. Through collaboration with individuals and organizations city-wide, she hopes show possibilities that emerge when communities come together to provide all people with access to holistic, trauma-informed and healing centered care. She believes that when we heal ourselves in the present, we heal the generations to come.

Valerie Herrero (Teacher) is an avid adventurer and finds inspiration from closely observing everyday wonders and curiosities- from tiny insect parades to the vast world all around us. Valerie has been a teacher at several organizations including Carnegie Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, Assemble, The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, and The Pittsburgh Glass Center. In 2015 Valerie created The Bridging Arts Program, a community program that used art and empathic dialog to connect Greene County and Pittsburgh youth. Having grown up amidst woods and fields scattered throughout Ohio, she appreciates the ways nature has been a great teacher to her. She hopes her work can offer those lessons and discoveries with everyone she has the opportunity to share and learn alongside. Her artwork and performance projects are filled with explorations about fleeting time, the process of change, and the intricate connections and the gentle balance of life on Earth. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Cow Kitty.

Jaclyn Janocsko (she/her) is 28 years old and currently resides in Whitehall, PA with her loves Evan, Luna the dog, Berry the Betta Fish & Honey Bunny the Golden Rabbit Snail. She loves nature, art, & movement! She has been practicing yoga since high school and has a passion for sharing what she has learned with friends, family and the community. Participating in a 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2018 through Yogaroots on Location changed the way she moves about the world. As a white woman and educator she hopes to activate others to find creative and healing ways to connect to our collective humanity through love, but most importantly through taking action and using her voice for change. 

Kastler Joseph (Teacher) is originally from Newark, New Jersey. He has a degree in The Applied Sciences of Electronic Engineering Technology and in Electronic Computer Technology. Kastler has always had a love, passion, and joy for working with children and, after his son was born, realized that working with children is a calling. Kastler has a desire to assist parents who do not have the ability to aid their children for numerous reasons, the primary reason being circumstantial, and so he applied for a position in the Pittsburgh Public School system. As a Para-Professional in PPS, Kastler has enjoyed working with children of all ages. He has observed that pre-teens and teens, who society says are supposed to be more independent, are the ones who are most dependent. Why? They often do not know how to navigate their inner conflicts, conflicts they experience with others, and conflicts with the world around them. Kastler also runs a tutoring service to aid children who are below reading level and children who are learning to read. Working with youth has been a wonderful experience for Kastler and he looks forward to opportunities to extend what he does in every and any way possible.

Lost Culture is a Pittsburgh based all styles dance crew. We wish to bring back not only the Lost Culture of dance but also the lost culture in the community.

Sandra Moore (The Clay Project, Teaching Artist) on her work as an artist: “Art has been a process of living for me. In the 70s, I was a photographer photo journalist for UPI and Associated Press as a stringer photographer. I worked in the late 70’s as a lab tech to subsidize my fun job with the wire serves. In the 80s I was a scenic Artist for a variety of theaters while raising kids. From 2007 to 2016 I was an Art teacher at The Neighborhood Academy. Now I am working more in my studio and teaching part time ceramics at Lauri Anne West Community Center and Art in the Garden in Borland Garden. I am also teaching Scenic Art at the Winchester Thurston Upper School.” Sandra is a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and The Pittsburgh Society of #fineartsbysandra @fineartsbysandra.com

Sankofa Village aka “The Village” is a non profit organization founded by Shabaka Perkins. The purpose of the Village is to teach youth about different cultures in Africa. Often those teachings include West African Drumming and Dance. Artistic Director Toddja Thornhill teaches West African Drumming while Shabaka Perkins teaches West African Drumming. They hope for the Village to be a safe space for all children~adults to learn. The business is nonprofit because they want it to be affordable for families that do not have much. Sankofa also has karate classes taught by Darell Baldwin. He teaches youth how to defend themselves if ever needed. Sankofa Village is located on 201 North Braddock Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15208.

Kamryn Randall (The Clay Project, Teaching Artist) is a Pittsburgh native and loves to get involved in her community. Kamryn just graduated with a bachelors in philosophy from Allegheny College and is continuing education at the University of Pittsburgh Law a School in the fall. This is the second summer working with Art in the Garden on the Clay project, and third summer teaching art to children.  Kamryn has worked with and known fellow teaching artist Sandy Moore since middle school and that is when an interest in art and ceramics specially was born. 

Dahlia Rao (Program Manager) is an education specialist and leader in arts programming, always seeking opportunities to engage creatively with children and address issues of inequity in education. She has a wide range of experiences with university-community partnerships, both in Pittsburgh and Ann Arbor/Detroit area. She holds her bachelors in History/Anthropology and Communication Design from Carnegie Mellon University and a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dahlia lives with her husband Shiv and three children in Squirrel Hill.

Joanne Riley (Youth Programming) practiced as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (pediatric and adult) for sixteen years until going into Health Care Administration. She has a passion for assuring individualized quality care and management allowed her to do that. After management positions including Director of Nursing, and completing her Master Degree in Hospital Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, she accepted a position as Senior Administrator for General Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh where she stayed for 25 years before retiring in 2017. Her responsibilities were broad including: residency training programs, research programs and clinical programs. Joanne’s last project prior to retiring was obtaining a large state grant to create an Addiction Clinic for UPMC. Since retirement she has been filling her life with volunteer work, gardening, creation with stained glass, and her wonderful husband and family.

Shawn Terrell (The Clay Project, Teaching Artist) is a ceramics teacher for OMA Center for Mind, Body, and Spirit’s program Art in the Garden. He has a bachelors degree in Environmental Studies from Temple University and resides in Pittsburgh, PA. He is passionate about both the arts and nature, with interest in urban greening and environmental education in our region. He currently works for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in the Community Gardens and Greenspace program as a full-time field staff employee. 

OMA’s Art in the Garden celebrates and supports a community of individuals with varied experiences and expression, including socioeconomic status, race, national origin, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability.