Our Staff | Harwood Art Center

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 and Ceramics Monthly.

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, and has created a series of mixed media collage and watercolor landscapes.  Currently in the works are two projects: large colorful paintings depicting her home's interior, and a home-made sketchbook (pages dyed with red chile powder!) used to draw and paint various points of interest around Albuquerque.  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.

Dani Belvin 

Programs & Education Coordinator
Dani is a New Mexican theatre artist, educator, and arts administrator who is driven by the desire to make a positive impact in Albuquerque through spreading her lifelong love of learning and art. She holds an M.F.A. in Theatre (Asian Performance) from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and a B.A. in Theatre Education and Asian Studies from the University of New Mexico. Before that she studied Early Childhood Education at CNM. As an educator, she has worked with students of all ages in New Mexico, Hawai’i, Japan, and China which has instilled in her the joy of using the diversity of human experience as an education resource in creating curriculum and teaching. As a performer, she has studied 12 different Asian theatre/dance forms (from Japan, Bali, West Sumatra, India, Thailand, and the Philippines), and is particularly interested in dance, puppetry, devised theatre, new works, and theatre for educational and social change. Her other artistic interests include fiber art, knitting, cross-stitch, and multimedia collage. In addition to her work at Harwood, she also teaches theatre at CNM, is part of the artistic core at Blackout Theatre, and runs the small urban farm, Solarpunk Farm, with her husband.

Kristin Jantzen

Outreach & Education Intern
Kristin comes to New Mexico from Newton, Kansas where she recently graduated from high school. Kristen joined the Service Adventure unit at Albuquerque Mennonite Church for a gap year in order to test her wings, see the American West and expand her window to the world. She is serving at Harwood for her Service Adventure. While working as the Outreach & Education Intern for the 2017/18 school year, Kristin manages the organization of our art supplies for our Arts Education and Outreach Programs. Working closely with our core staff and arts education lead staff, Kristin works as a classroom assistant in After School Art Club on Tuesday afternoons, at Creative Roots at Wells Park on Wednesdays, at Fashion Club on Thursday afternoons, and at open studio on Fridays. She also works at the front desk, supports Creative Roots administrative work, assists in galleries, and is conducting an independent project!

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.

Adelina Cruz

Teaching Artist, Youth Mural Project
Adelina Cruz is an emerging local community oriented visual artist who works primarily with painting, drawing and graphic design. Adelina’s work explores themes of identity, gender expression, and culture. Adelina strongly believes that art can be utilized as a tool for activism, education, personal and community healing. Adelina has worked with various community and national organizations as a guest/teaching artist facilitating classes and art workshops focusing on self-expression, storytelling and social justice. Adelina has a great passion for creative expression, inspiring others and a strong sense of responsibility to give back to our community by working/mentoring youth through art.


Susan Klebanoff

Susan Klebanoff

Former Resident Artist

I had the good fortune to be an artist at the Harwood Art Center from 1996 – 2005. It was wonderful being in a community of artists that were so creative and supportive of each other. Having just arrived in NM in ’96, it was particularly meaningful for me because I did not know anyone in this state, and it enabled me to create immediate friendships with like minded people. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work at Harwood and believe that the [Harwood] Art Center is vital to the neighboring community.

Susan Klebanoff is an internationally recognized contemporary tapestry artist who lives and works in Albuquerque. She kept a studio at Harwood Art Center from 1996 – 2005.

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