Meet Our Squad
Our Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer & Artistic Director
Colleen is a passionate nonprofit arts leader who believes that art belongs to everyone — and that by tapping into our creative energy, we can deepen empathy, strengthen social bonds, tackle tough issues, and unleash the potential of individuals and communities alike. Colleen serves as CEO & Artistic Director at ArtWorks, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Colleen leads this 26-year-old award-winning arts nonprofit to employ and develop artists and youth apprentices to work on transformative community public art across greater Cincinnati. Colleen launched ArtWorks mural program, the pioneering public art program in the City of Cincinnati and one of the largest in the country, instrumental in Cincinnati’s win for the 2010 City Livability Award by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (VIDEO) and Cincinnati being recognized in the top 20 most vibrant art and cultural cities in 2020. Colleen has also mentored many other cities on creating civic mural programs.
Colleen has a degree in Public and Social Art from Warren Wilson College. She is the 2020 Distinguished Alumni honoree for Warren Wilson College. She has received a Legacy Next Generation Leader Award and has been honored as a Cincinnati Business Courier C-Suite honoree. Colleen is a graduate of Nonprofit Leadership Institute of Greater Cincinnati’s EXCEL, Leadership Council for Nonprofits’ BOLD, (Board Orientation + Leadership Development), Leadership Cincinnati and Strong Cincinnati. She is an active leader in the community and currently serves on three boards, Ohio Citizens for the Arts, dedicated to advocacy for arts access and support for all living in the state of Ohio, Leadership Council for Nonprofits, advancing and strengthening nonprofit leadership, and WavePool, a creative placemaking arts organization in the neighborhood of Camp Washington.
Colleen and her husband, Andy, are the parents of two wonderfully creative girls. She loves engaging her own children in arts such as organizing their own art openings, creating youth-designed costumes for the school play, completing a school-wide mural, and publishing a cookbook featuring student’s art. She enjoys the beauty of the outdoor world through camping, canoeing and hiking and her own creative practice of photography and writing.
Senior Director, Impact
As Senior Director of Impact, Sydney leads the strategic direction, management, and evaluation of ArtWorks’ programming and project impact. Sydney has dedicated her career to improving opportunities and outcomes for youth and communities. Prior to joining ArtWorks, Sydney was a Teach for America corps member in Milwaukee, WI. Her experience in the classroom led her to Future 5, a youth development nonprofit organization in Stamford, CT, where she led fundraising as Development Manager. A life-long learner of dance, music, and photography, it was a natural fit for Sydney to join the ArtWorks team to combine her passions for meaningful educational opportunities and the arts. Sydney received her BA from the University of Michigan, where she double-majored in Anthropology and Film, Television, & Media and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, Sydney earned her MA in Education at Alverno College during her service with Teach for America. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys hiking, ballroom dancing, and listening to the Bluegrass All-Stars at The Comet.
Senior Director, Finance & Talent
As Senior Director of Finance & Talent, Jane is responsible for ArtWorks financial planning and reporting and oversees Human Resources for employee relations, policies, programs and practices. She is the past President/CEO for the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC). Prior to CYC, Jane’s career included senior leadership roles in manufacturing and financial services. Jane’s community work is extensive including leadership roles with the Nonprofit Leadership Council Board, Leadership Cincinnati, the Governor’s Community Connector Advisory Board, Cincinnati Public Schools My Tomorrow Steering Committee and United Way Board. She is a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati and Leadership Action. Jane holds a Master of Public Administration from Northern Kentucky University, a Bachelor of Accounting from University of Cincinnati and is a CPA. Jane shares her life with Bob and Diamond, their dog. Jane enjoys traveling, gardening, cooking and reading just about anything.
Senior Director, Advancement
As Senior Director of Advancement, Jeff is responsible for leading strategy, planning and execution for successful fundraising and development activities. Jeff has more than 25 years of leadership experience in nonprofit organizations. For 10 years, he served as the Director of Development and Marketing at Cincinnati Nature Center, and previously as the Chief Development Officer at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, and the Botanic Garden of Western Pennsylvania. His work includes coordinating a $32 million capital campaign and securing gifts of up to $5 million.
Prior to working with nature-based organizations, Jeff served as Executive Director of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and the Lexington Philharmonic. In Cincinnati, he has served as the Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Cincinnati Opera and General Manager at Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
Jeff completed a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration from the University of Cincinnati. He has taught nonprofit management courses at the University of Kentucky and the University of Akron. Currently, Jeff serves on the boards of the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Greater Milford Area Historical Society. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys spending time with his daughters, Olivia and Sophia, and working to create an artistic backyard garden showcasing native plants.
Karla Batres Gilvin
Director, Community Impact
As Director of Community Impact, Karla (she/her) is responsible for all projects, initiatives, and events focused on creative placemaking/keeping, community outreach and engagement strategies, place-based work, and public art consulting, education, and community planning. Karla Batres Gilvin moved to Cincinnati in 2011 to obtain a BFA in Sculpture from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. While there, she acted as a coordinator for the Community Education Department, instructed art classes for Camp Art Academy, and met her future collaborator and life partner Bradly Gilvin. Subsequently, Karla taught undergraduate fine art classes and co-founded the art collaborative Batres Gilvin, while obtaining an MFA from UC DAAP. In 2020, Batres Gilvin was presented an Emerging Artist Jump Start Award by ArtWorks. In turn, Karla co-facilitated Give A Minute Cincinnati, a Greater Cincinnati community arts project. Additionally, Batres Gilvin co-created Artworks’ first mural-in-the-round, Casa Colina, and was awarded the Artist-in-Residence at the Contemporary Arts Center and The ArtWorks V² Gallery in 2021. Prior to joining ArtWorks, Karla was the Community Programs Administrator at the Contemporary Arts Center where she worked with artists and organizations to research and develop community-focused programs.
As a practicing artist, educator, and community arts facilitator Karla believes in art as a tool for connection. She values the importance of collaboration, an awareness of intersectionality, and an emphasis on accessibility + inclusivity. She currently lives with her partner and daughter on a Northern Kentucky farm surrounded by art, family, cows, donkeys, and her beloved dogs. She takes pride in being a daughter of immigrants and loves traveling to see her family in Mexico when life permits.
Coordinator, Development Database
Manager, Creative Projects
As Creative Projects Manager, Zhaira (she/her) is responsible for the day-to-day operations of public art projects, working directly with external partners, artists and youth apprentices to execute projects successfully. She is a Filipino-American art administrator and curator focusing largely on accessibility and diversity in the arts, local up-and-coming artists, and contemporary arts at the varied intersections of gender, race, and queer theory. She studied art history at the University of North Texas.
Zhaira has worked with arts organizations to diversify their roster of artists and aid in the creation of grants and opportunities for POC creatives. Her most notable work was completed as the Founder and Director of ARThaus, a grassroots non-profit she started in Denton, Texas. Seeking a more robust and accessible art community during her last year of undergrad, ARThaus created a space for creatives and art enthusiasts to connect, collaborate, and gain valuable experience. Through the work at ARThaus, Zhaira facilitated solo and group exhibitions, artist residencies, workshops, classes, multiple editions of a community zine, and open critique sessions all at no cost to participants.
Outside of work, you can find her lacing up her roller skates at the local roller rink, spoiling her sweet dog, Amelia, or hosting dinner parties with her dear friends.
Director, Communications & Marketing
Manager, Creative Projects
As Creative Projects Manager, Devin is responsible for the day-to-day operations of public art projects, working directly with external partners, artists and youth apprentices to execute projects successfully. In this role, he coordinates, supports and troubleshoots for designers, artists, and youth apprentices from design concept to project dedication. He is passionate about showcasing the creative talents of artists and youth while providing apprentices with positive growth experiences. Devin has worked within the nonprofit sector since 2010, serving as an intern with Building New Hope in Nicaragua. After receiving a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, he decided to pursue his dual passion for arts and community nonprofits, obtaining an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University. Before returning to Cincinnati, Devin interned at a variety of arts organizations and was Gallery Director at the Vashon Center for the Arts, in Vashon, Washington. Growing up in Kenwood, Devin is glad to be back in Cincinnati and excited to be part of the ArtWorks’ Team.
Manager, Creative Projects
As Creative Projects Manager, Abby is responsible for the day-to-day operations of public art projects, working directly with external partners, artists and youth apprentices to execute projects successfully. Abby is an artist & nonprofit leader from Chicago. She graduated from the University of Georgia and holds an MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Abby most recently worked as a Development Associate & Visual Art Coordinator for Nuçi’s Space, a suicide prevention nonprofit for musicians and artists in Athens. At Nuci’s Space, Abby managed temporary and permanent public art installations and was a member of both the Bias Prevention Task Force and the Youth Committee.
Abby has been heavily involved in creative community development over the past few years and is passionate about providing accessible resources and opportunities to emerging artists. She also makes comics, illustrations, and zines inspired by punk and garage rock music, mental health, and personal growth. Abby is an avid baker and cook and loves to have folks over for dinner, board games, and craft nights.
Manager, Event and Donor Relations
Director, Creative Projects
As the Director of Creative Projects, Liz is responsible for the planning and execution of all projects that employ artists to carry out ArtWorks’ mission through creative and innovative processes and outcomes. Her extensive experience with project management paired with her expertise and knowledge of call-to-artists and artist-driven projects contributes to her success in this role. Since joining the ArtWorks team in 2017, Liz has enjoyed working closely with artists to develop their ideas and push creative boundaries in an effort to bring bold, fresh artistic concepts to Cincinnati’s public art landscape. Some of Liz’s ArtWorks highlights include the management of BLINK® Light-Based Sculptural Installations (2019), Saya Woolfalk’s Visionary Reality Threshold mural (2019), Chase Melendez’s 8C4I5N1 neon mural (2019), and New Lines Phase II: Bolivar Alley (2018). As a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Liz’s educational background is in creative writing, English literature, art education, and fine art. As an artist, Liz is a proud member of the local feminist collective, ART HAGS
Manager, Communications and Marketing
As the Communications and Marketing Manager, Sandra Okot-Kotber (she/her/hers) slays all digital communications for ArtWorks including but not limited to, newsletters, social media, and press releases. She is the organization’s past executive assistant and office manager. Prior to arriving at ArtWorks, Sandra worked on administrative teams for Macy’s and the University of Central Florida in Orlando. In her free time, Sandra is a writer and Communications Director for Women of Cincy, a nonprofit media platform. In 2015, Sandra graduated with a bachelor’s of Human Communication from the University of Central Florida. She is married to the grind and mother to a loving canine named, Foxxy.
As the Manager of Finance, Francesca processes all day-to-day financial data. She is also responsible for maintaining personnel records, employee benefits and payroll. She has been in the Cincinnati area since 1997 and joined the ArtWorks team in April 2011. Francesca enjoys floral arranging and spending time with her family and friends.
Heather Pope Kruessel
As Executive Assistant Heather provides executive support in a one-on-one working relationship. She also serves as a liaison to the board of directors and senior management teams; organizes and coordinates executive outreach and external relations efforts, and oversees special projects.
In her free time, Heather loves to spend time relaxing with her husband and their canine roommate. She is taking up origami, likes to crochet, and creates and plays in fantasy worlds with her friends via Dungeons & Dragons. At parties she can typically be found near the snack table or the closest animal.
Director, Artist Impact
Amy joined the ArtWorks team in 2014 as the Executive Assistant and Office Manager. In 2018 she transitioned to working with our Youth Apprentices and Professional Artists. Amy oversees youth programming including enrichment, education, and hiring. Prior to joining the ArtWorks team, Amy worked in the Admissions Department of the Art Academy of Cincinnati as the Lead Admissions Counselor and High School Visit Coordinator. Amy also attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati earning a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Sculpture, in 2010. She is also a graduate of ArtWorks Co.Starters program where Pull Club Studio, a girl-powered printmaking studio was born. Amy is passionate about public art, place keeping, and engaging young, emerging and student artists.
Manager, Mural Studio
Our Founding Director
Meet Our Board