Our staff

Our staff is responsible for the programming and daily operations of Harwood Art Center, the multifaceted community outreach program of Escuela del Sol Montessori. As a single organization, Harwood and Escuela share a Board of Trustees which facilitates the direction and philosophy of the organization. Harwood also looks to several advisory committees and to our fantastic volunteer corps for inspiration, input and support. We are particularly thankful to our facilities and maintenance team and our 75+ teaching artists and apprentices for their invaluable contributions to our programs.

Friedje vanGils

Executive Director and Head of School
The driving force behind Friedje's work with Escuela del Sol and Harwood Art Center is her passion for creating supportive and collaborative environments that provide access to both academia and the arts. Friedje has directed the organization for 30 years, taking the Montessori school from a small one-room preschool to one of Albuquerque’s preeminent early childhood and elementary schools, and making possible the creation of what has become our city’s leading arts organization, Harwood Art Center.

Julia Mandeville

Chief Programs Officer
Julia came to our organization with over a decade of professional experience in arts and humanities, program building and community organizing. In her role at Escuela, Julia manages projects, planning initiatives, Harwood's team and program portfolio. She collaborates with our constellation of artists, educators and administrators to engage the arts as a catalyst for positive change and build a more vibrant community. Julia's work is rooted in cultivating and curating artistic, exhibition and professional development opportunities in New Mexico, as well as in coordinating platforms that allow artists of all ages chances for reciprocal enrichment of and connection with our city.

GuruAmrit Khalsa

Director of Operations
GuruAmrit has a background in Art History and Business Administration with experience working with galleries, museums and art centers in New Mexico and Texas. Her job at Harwood includes co-curating Harwood’s two galleries and annual exhibitions, as well as co-coordinating Emerging Artists, Harvest CSA, Summer Art Camp, and 12x12. Her responsibilities also include graphic design, bookkeeping, database management, oversight of 45 on-site artist studios as well as general administrative and staff support.

Shelle VanEtten de Sanchez

Director of Organizational Expansion

Dr. Shelle VanEtten de Sanchez has almost 30 years of experience as an educator, project manager, and administrator in schools, universities, museums, and arts nonprofits. She currently works part-time at Escuela del Sol/Harwood Art Center as the Director of Organizational Expansion. She also writes, presents, and consults regularly on arts, education, and the power of collaboration. She carries a deep commitment to creativity, community building, and places that offer meaningful opportunities for everyone to use creativity as a path towards personal growth and positive social change.

Jennifer DePaolo

Associate Director of Community Outreach 

Jen DePaolo is the Associate Director of Community Outreach at the Harwood Art Center. Her work at Harwood involves grant research, writing and administration and overseeing and integrating Harwood's outreach programs across our events, program development, and community networking. She curates community arts exhibitions including an exhibition of work by youth in our Creative Roots Outreach Program at12x12 and Encompass. In addition to her work at Harwood, Jen is a nationally exhibited studio artist and community organizer. She and Ebony Booth co-founded Burque Noir, a mulit-media showcase for visual and performing African American artists in Albuquerque. Jen leads the What Becomes project, which won a Fulcrum Fund from 516 Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation. She partners with Edible NM Magazine owner Stephanie Cameron on Gathered: Pop-up Celebrations of Art and Food. Jennifer’s writing has been published in the international journal, Ceramics, Art and Perception.

Staci Drangmeister

Programs & Operations Coordinator
Staci is a tile mosaic artist, arts educator, and arts administrator. She has been creating public ceramic tile work since 2009 and also enjoys small scale bronze casting, painting, and is currently learning web design. She is an Albuquerque native and holds a BA in Art Studio from UNM. Although Staci has been involved in the Harwood through the Mayor’s Art Institute in the past, she is excited to work as a staff member for the organization. Her roles at Harwood include co-managing and serving as registrar of Art Camp, overseeing our on-site artist studios, bookkeeping, and general administrative and staff support.

Becky Weishampel

Community Relations Coordinator
Becky is excited to utilize nearly a decade of office administrative experience with her BFA earned at Tyler School of Art of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  Soon after relocating to New Mexico, she volunteered at two Harwood events and fell in love with how our establishment connects with the community.  Becky is an artist whose most rewarding projects have included working on a mural at a child guidance center, and donating pet portraits to an animal shelter to help increase visibility for dogs and cats up for adoption.  She is inspired by her new South Western environment, creating a series of mixed media collage and watercolor landscapes.  In her role at Escuela and Harwood, she will manage visitors' first impressions and our volunteer program, organize donor and member relations, and co-coordinate special events.

Arts Education Lead Staff

Our Arts Education and Community Outreach Programs would not be possible without the lead staff members that work in their respective programs.  In addition to these lead staff members, there are numerous program support staff that makes Harwood’s programming possible.

Helen Atkins

Creative Roots Program Assistant
Helen Atkins is an emerging artist from New Mexico. She is graduating from UNM in 2016 with her Bachelor’s in Studio Arts with minors in Arts Management and English Composition. In her position at Harwood, Helen is the Creative Roots Program Assistant, helping run both the Wells Park workshops and both branches of Youth Mural Project. Outside of Harwood, Helen is a lead apprentice at the Mayor’s Art Institute where she has worked since 2012. She is also the Director of the ASUMN Arts and Crafts Studio.

Shardae LeDouix

Lead Guide, Summer Art Camp
Shardae LeDouix is from Santa Fe, New Mexico and transitioned to the city of Albuquerque in 2008. Shardae graduated from the University of New Mexico, where she received her bachelors degree in Family Studies and Psychology. Shardae has been with Escuela del Sol Montessori since 2011, and currently works with the primary children.  Shardae is also the Lead Guide for the Harwood Summer Art Camp, overseeing all the camp Guides and serving as a liaison between Harwood and camp staff.

Natalie Voelker

Teaching Artist, Youth Mural Project 
Natalie Voelker is a visual artist working in Albuquerque, NM. Using both representation and abstraction, Natalie takes a personal approach to the exploration of our shared human experience. Through the lens of the personal, she explores our search for identity and meaning through relationships with others and ourself. Her portraits, figurative works, abstractions, and murals are the material result of an exploratory, process-oriented, approach to art-making. In her role at Creative Roots, Natalie is the lead teaching artist at Garfield Middle School.


John Garrett
John Garrett


I seem to have known about Harwood Art Center since I moved to Albuquerque in 1996. I have always enjoyed seeing the exhibits there and visiting the studios when they are open to the public. I have taken a couple of classes there, and this last year I have taught a class there myself. This last spring I also had an exhibit of my wire sculptures and wall works at Harwood. I am pleased to contribute work which supports the work of the [Harwood] Art Center.

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