Staff & Board
Abigail Housen, Co-Founding Director
Abigail Housen is co-founder of Visual Understanding in Education and co-author of the VTS Curriculum. Housen has been involved in aesthetic research for 30 years and received her Ed.D from Harvard in 1983. She was professor of Art Education and Director of the Graduate Program at Massachusetts College of Art, and has served as consultant and evaluator to numerous museums and schools. Housen's research into the stages of aesthetic development provided the theoretical foundation for VTS. Her longitudinal research studies on the impact of VTS have shown that, in addition to growth in aesthetic understanding, VTS supports the growth of creative and critical thinking skills, which transfer to other subject areas.
Click to download CV.
Philip Yenawine, Co-Founding Director
Philip Yenawine is co founder of Visual Understanding in Education (VUE), a non profit educational research organization that develops and studies ways teaching visual literacy and of using art to teach thinking and communication skills. Director of Education at The Museum of Modern Art from 1983-93, he worked in 1992-94 as consulting curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art, and during the academic year 1993-94, as Visiting Professor of art education at Mass College of Art, both in Boston. Yenawine is the author of How to Look at Modern Art, Key Art Terms for Beginners, and has written six children's books about art.
Click to download CV.
Board of Directors
- Barbara Young, Board Chair
Retired School Superintendent & Consultant; Point Richmond, CA
- Jasanna Britton, Vice Chair
Early Childhood Specialist; New York, NY
- Melissa Coley, Treasurer
Vice President, Brookfield Properties Corporation; New York, NY
- Tricia Claudy, Secretary
Chestnut Hill, MA
- Harry Lasker
CEO, Robust Inc.; Cambridge, MA
- Amy Lieberman
Teacher; New York, NY
- Judy Sherman
Mill Valley School Board Member; Mill Valley, CA
- Mimi Wheeler
- Ex-Officio Member/Founder:
Abigail Housen; Visual Understanding in Education
Alfredo Espinosa, Executive Director, National Alfredo has over eleven years of nonprofit leadership experience, many of these supporting global initiatives. He served as Senior Director of Global Business Development for the American Museum of Natural History, establishing business partnerships to expand the worldwide dissemination of museum content in 27 countries. He has also served as a Senior Associate at Katzenbach Partners, a strategy consulting firm, helping address strategic and organizational performance challenges. His senior nonprofit management and fundraising functions in an international context, combined with his strategic consulting expertise are a perfect fit to lead VTS to the next level. His leadership reflects his love and passion of culture, and the arts and education have inspired his travel that has spanned forty-five countries.
Alfredo holds post-graduate diplomas from the University of London and Harvard Business School, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the National University of Mexico, and an MBA from Columbia Business School.Email Alfredo
VTS Program Director, National
Yoon joined the VTS team in 1997 as a college intern in New York City and now oversees VTS programs across the US, serving as the National Program Director. Before taking on a national role for VTS, Yoon led and supported long term VTS school and museum partnerships in the Pacific Northwest. She has led workshops and presentations for organizations across the US and abroad including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Washington, University of Oregon, and Microsoft. Yoon studied Art History at Barnard College, NYC and University College London and Studio Art at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh, Scotland. Along with her involvement with VTS, Yoon has taught studio art to NYC public school students and has worked as an administrator at various organizations including Parsons School of Design and the Tony Smith Estate. Email Yoon.
Lisa Lurie, Finance and Operations Director, National
Lisa joined the VTS team in October 2010. Prior to joining the VTS team, Lisa worked as the Finance Manager at the Park Avenue Armory in NY. Lisa earned her MA in Arts Administration at Columbia University and is working towards an MS in Accountancy at Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College. Lisa was a founding member of Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA), and served as Co-Chair of their Board from 2011-2012. Email Lisa.
Nick Gardner, Strategic Initiatives Director, National
Prior to serving as the Strategic Initiatives Director, Nick served as the Director of Administration and Finance, joining Visual Thinking Strategies in 2006. He is a graduate of Webster University holding Bachelors' degrees in Literature and Secondary Education and the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, where he obtained a Master's in public policy and management. Nick has worked with Visual Thinking Strategies as a classroom teacher, teacher trainer, and organizational director. His current focus is on the development of new program capacities and models for extending the reach and accessibility of VTS resources and experience to more educators across the country and abroad. Email Nick
Amy Chase Gulden, Regional Director, New York
Amy Chase Gulden joined VUE in the Fall of 2006 as Regional Director for NY where she has launched VTS school & museum programs in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut, and provides professional development in VTS to a broad range of audiences (classroom teachers, art teachers, administrators, arts-education conferences, graduate students). Amy was Director of Studio in a School's Long Term visual-arts residency program for seven years before she began consulting in 2005 on the design and content of its interactive website aligned with the NYC Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Visual Arts. As a Senior Researcher at the SchoolWorks Lab., she has been involved in numerous federally-funded arts education studies, and serves as researcher, faculty and facilitator for numerous initiatives of the New York State Council on the Arts. Amy holds masters degrees in Education and English Literature. She is a visual artist and writes a weekly column, The Gallery, devoted to emerging contemporary artists for ApartmentTherapy.com Email Amy
Gretchen Baudenbacher , Regional Program Coordinator, New YorkFollowing completion of a bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Gretchen Baudenbacher worked in museum education at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Gallery of Photography in Dublin, Ireland. After relocating to New York, Gretchen began working with VTS in 1999. Her interest in young people’s interaction with visual images led her to complete the MA program in Media Ecology at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education and subsequent work within the youth media field. She is happy to be a part of the VUE team and supporting VTS programs in NYC. Email Gretchen
Regional Coordinator, Boston & New England
A Boston native, Sarah was first introduced to VTS in 2006 while interning with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and enjoys working with children as they build connections with one another and with the works of art. Sarah received a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from the College of Wooster and a Masters in Child Development from Tufts University. Her graduate work, in collaboration with an internship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, focused on the cognitive and social benefits of Visual Thinking Strategies for children in the early childhood years. She has worked as an elementary and preschool teacher in Ireland and the Boston Area and, as a teacher, focused on the creation and implementation of inclusive classroom environments. Email Sarah
Robyn Muscardini, Regional Coordinator, North Bay
Robyn was first introduced to VTS in 2006 at California College of the Arts. Soon after, while completing her masters degree in Education, she met Oren Slozberg and suggested they work together to bring VTS to schools in Sonoma County. A graduate of California College of the Arts, she has taught visual arts in both Berkeley and Sonoma public schools. She has worked with Sonoma Valley Museum of Art bringing visual arts to the schools and has served on the Board of Directors of Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) in Oakland, California. Email Robyn
Liz Harvey, Regional Director, SF Bay
Liz joined VUE in July 2009 after working with San Francisco Bay VTS for two years. Harvey's work in education encompasses work with children, families, and adults, linking communities with museums. Liz spent eleven years bringing schools and university students together in programs at a university art museum. More recently, she managed artists working with youth in San Francisco schools and juvenile hall, and created public art in programs with underserved children in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Since her first teaching job in Koreatown, Los Angeles, Liz has long been drawn to facilitation as a route to equitable and powerful teaching, while centering her educational work around artworks both in and out of the museum, and their resonance for all students of all ages. Liz has coached and taught pre-service and in-service teachers in arts integration, including working with the faculty of East Oakland School of the Arts high school for three years. Liz also ran Artful Weekends, a summertime family art program for the J. Paul Getty Museum; coordinated a school program for the Los Angeles County Art Museum; and served as a gallery educator for adults at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She taught courses in art education for California State University, Long Beach preparing elementary teachers to utilize art and museums to explore critical thinking. Her work in sculpture, often preoccupied with feminist history and memory, has been shown since 1993 in galleries, museums, and alternative spaces in California, New York, and Italy. She is a recipient of the California Arts Council Fellowship in Sculpture (1996) and two Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Artist in Residence grants. Currently, she is collaborating with dancers/choreographers on new work. Email Liz
Kim Aziz, Regional Manager, Portland ORKim first joined VUE in 2009 with the goal of bringing VTS to Oregon. She earned her Masters of Education at The Ohio State University as member of the Educators for Collaborative Change cohort. After teaching in both arts impact & Afrocentric school settings Kim shifted her practice and became a museum educator at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Now Kim is the VTS Regional Manager in Portland, training teachers & providing VTS programming to local organizations.Working with VTS is a phenomenal opportunity to synthesize reform education goals and constructivist strategies Kim pursued as a teacher and museum educator.
Samantha Lee, Administrative Coordinator, National
Originally from Chicago, Samantha joined the New York VTS team in September 2012 after having relocated from Portland, OR. Samantha served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Portland Community College. She was subsequently hired on to plan and implement volunteer days of service. Samantha received her bachelor's degree in media studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Email Samantha
Erica Sera, Training & Administrative Program Coordinator, National
A Pittsburgh native, Erica joined the New York VTS team in September 2011. Erica has years of experience in event and project planning and coordination at DDI, a human resource consulting firm. Erica received her bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Slippery Rock University in 2005. Email Erica.
Tracy Cathcart, Training & Administrative Program Coordinator, California Office
Tracy Cathcart joined the North Bay VTS team in September 2012. Having graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management, Tracy brings over 20 years of business experience to the VTS team. Tracy’s program and project management skills have benefited a diverse assortment of organizations and individuals. Since 2007, Tracy has worked closely with Old Adobe Elementary and the Old Adobe Union School District helping to enrich the educational experience of numerous students. During this time, Tracy was introduced to VTS, and personally helped with the funding and support of VTS in her children’s school and district. With a passion for advocating and helping to sustain arts in education, Tracy is delighted to be part of an organization that promotes the fostering of critical thinking in people of all ages, especially children.