Connect with LEAF
LEAF is a small non-profit organization with a big vision. We are always seeking to improve within our capacity and opportunities. Your insights and support are appreciated.
JOB OPENINGS: None currently.
Phone Hours (may vary):
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: 10am-4pm
Hours of Operation:
By appointment only.
19 Eagle Street, Suite 120
Asheville, NC 28801
Become a Teaching Artist
LEAF Global Arts work is visioned and comes together with the leadership of our Navigator Staff, Board, Teaching Artists and Culture Keepers who fuel and fulfill LEAF’s mission year-round!
Navigators & Aviators
Schools & Streets Teaching Artists
Board of Directors
Compass Advisors & Curators
Mission & Vision
Mission: To cultivate a thriving global community generated by the power of cultural curiosity, connection, and preservation through global music and arts education and experiences.
Vision: Transforming Lives, Connecting Cultures and Generating Unity. LEAF is looks towards the legacy we want to be generating in the communities we serve. We see ourselves using music, art and festivals to create welcoming places and spaces of possibility that foster shared experiences powerful enough to transform lives, connect cultures and generate unity.
Leading LEAF with care daily. Listed by when they joined the team.
Executive Director + Founder | Jennifer Pickering jennifer@theLEAF.org
Global Engagement Director | Schree Chavdarov international@theLEAF.org
LEAF Education Director | Erinn Hartley education@theLEAF.org
Associate Director | Alexa Kincaid assocdirector@theLEAF.org
Community Development & Grant Director | Heather Deifell development@theLEAF.org
Operations + Volunteer Director | Chelcie Spencer operations@theLEAF.org
Chief Financial Officer & Production | Leigh Maher leigh@theLEAF.org
Artistic Curator & Teaching Artist | Otto Vazquez performers@theLEAF.org
Office Manager + Bookkeeper | Elsea Brown business@theLEAF.org
Global Arts Education Assistant| Ar’yan Graham
Flying in and out with their specialized skills.
Welcome Team | Kelsey Long, Derian, Mac & more great people
Community Events Coordinator -Easel Rider & ULEAF| Marsha Almodovar easelrider@theLEAF.org
Vendor & Healing Arts Coordinator | Madison Link
Artist in Residence | Adama Dembele
Human Resources Advisor | Kevin L. Young Strategic HR Business Partner
Maven of Sound, Contra & Special Advisor Always! | Mike Compton
Plus many LEAF Festival Team superstars & fabulous Interns!
Our Core Values
We are driven by our mission.
We advocate for equity.
We act with openness & integrity.
We support each other as agents of positivity & care. “We Got This”.
We collaborate with purpose.
We celebrate with gratitude.
LEAF International Culture Keepers
Culture Keepers hold knowledge of specific culture or traditions. They are often elders. The passing forward of this knowledge to their youth is essential for cultural preservation. LEAF values partnerships to deepen sustainability. Area partners are acknowledged below.
David Kwizera, Rwanda Culture Keeper
Claude Nyandwi, Rwanda Teaching Artist
Dramane Dembele, Ivory Coast Culture Keeper (SOS d’Abobo Orphanage)
Fredy Nganga, Arusha, Tanzania Culture Keeper (Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots)
Edward Ndoleli, Arusha, Tanzania ONEmic Studio Engineer (Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots)
Luis Salazar, Costa Rica Cabecar Culture Keeper
Alexis Rodriguez, Costa Rica Ngabe Bugle Culture Keeper Jirondai)
Sara Morales, Guatemala Culture Keeper (PEG, Child Aid)
Stephanie Munoz, Guatemala Teaching Artist (PEG, Child Aid)
Marco Lievano, Mexico Teaching Artist (Ramon Osorio y Osorio school)
Jose Hayans, Panama Guna Yale Culture Keeper
Yoba Barrentes, Panama Guna Yale Coordinator
Chief Shaka Zulu, NOLA Culture Keeper (Burial Beer)
Kesslon Wilson, St. Vincent & The Grenadines Culture Keeper
Akeem Hannaway, St. Vincent & The Grenadines Bequia Teaching Artist (Kids on Pan)
Johanne Dejean, Haiti Culture Keeper (Boukman Eksperyans, Prosjekt Haiti)
Boi Gris, Haiti Culture Keeper (Boukman Eksperyans, Prosjekt Haiti)
Schools & Streets Teaching Artists
A teaching artist is “a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills, curiosities and sensibilities of an educator, who can effectively engage a wide range of people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.” -Eric Booth
Melissa McKinney – Music, Songwriting, Vocals & ONEmic
Irvegg Romero-Gallegos – BreakDance & World Rhythms
Derian Blane Mills – Ukulele, Social Change through Music Songwriting & Vocals
Ary’an Graham– Drum Kit, Percussion, Guitar, Ukulele, ONEmic
Elsea May Brown – World Dance
Paul Gladstone – World Percussion, Guitar, ONEmic & Music
In conjunction with events, LEAF invites performing artists from around the globe to lead Visiting Teaching Artist Residencies with elementary, middle, and/or high school students in the Asheville/WNC area. It is an opportunity for youth to take the next step toward becoming global citizens learning directly from artists from other cultures.
Since 2004, LEAF has hosted over 115 Visiting Artists with 20-25 annually. Artists have included Rising Appalachia, Kinobe of Uganda, The Change, Masankho Banda of Malawi, Paul Beaubrun of Haiti, Gina Chavez of Cuba Sweet Honey & The Rock, Mickey Hart & more. Their work with our local youth has been tremendous!
LEAF Visiting Teaching Artist residencies include:
• 2-10 day Residencies occur during the week prior to LEAF Festival, during the school day, in schools around Asheville and the WNC area.
• Visiting Teaching Artists are carefully selected and are typically national and internationally touring acts who have a deep interest in engaging youth in music and arts.
• Each student gets the opportunity to be treated like a rockstar with family guest passes for the day of their performance, a goodie bag, a cool LEAF t-shirt and other neat surprises!
• The opportunity for youth to truly become global citizens and artistic leaders by working with role models of different cultures and see beyond right now into the possibility for the future.
Interested in booking a residency? education@theLEAF.org
Board of Directors
& Board Emeritus
LEAF Board supports LEAF Global Arts year-round through visioning, planning, event support and community service.
Dr. “Big E” Eric Howard | President
Educational Policies, Social Work & Photography
Jim Diaz | Chair
Entrepreneur & Strategic Planning
Barbara Benisch | Secretary
Non-profit Catalyst Consulting
David Dowd | Treasurer
Banking & Community
Jay Moye | Whip
Justice Rogers | Board Chair Emeritus
National Emergency Services, Community
Marketing, Public Relations, City & County Programming & Services
Youth Development, Community Organizing
Digital Marketing, Consulting and Music
Global Educational Technology, Higher Education Organization, Education Research, Civil Discourse, Business Development
Education, International Business
World Music Artists, Visionary & Entreprenuer, Dance of Hope
Education, Development, Community Connections
Culinary Arts, Community, Baba Nahm
Community, Asheville City Schools, Transportation
Business Development & Strategic PartnersGlobal Educational
LEAF’s Treasured Circle of Support who fueled LEAF’s work & vision, and continue to help guide LEAF forward. Board Emeritus served full Board terms or helped start the organization:
Board Presidents & Chair Emeritus: Pete Roe • Derek Allen • Ivi Bilich • • Deborah Bryant • James Fisher • Elizabeth Hunter • Reggie Tidwell • Jody Whitehurst
Carol Antman • Joanne Badr-Morgan • Jen Beasley • Gary Broome • Tracy Massiello Brown • Cleaster Cotton • Christine DiBenedetto • Naima Dido • Bill Feste • Tommy George • River Guerguerian • Vanessa Guerrero • Kerri Hampton • Kelly Hanson • Elbert Hargrave • Cliff Hotchkiss • Jill Jones • Jim Magill • Holt Moore • Neely Neu • Sarah Nie • Doug Orr • Anthony Thomas • Robert Todd • Ford Willis • Steve Wilmans • Mike Zinsmeister
LEAF Attorneys At Law Emeritus: Bob Deutsch & Sean Devereux
Thank you for your service & Dedication to LEAF:
Jana Daley • Bob Deutsch • Sean Devereux • Vince Floriani • Selena Lauterer • Meg MacLeod • Jim Magill • Debrissa McKinney • Wond Hallie • Doug Orr • Jaime Perkins • Michael Perling • Chuck Pickering • Craig Plocica • Rob Routhieaux • Selenah Seabrooks • Parvinder Sethi • Elizabeth Teague • Terri Teaque • Kat Williams • Anastasia Yarbrough
& Compass Advisors
LEAF Global opened Valentines 2020 created by brilliant curators and builders coming together representing their culture and roots.
Juanita Jackson, Welcome Station
Roy Harris, Del Cardo History
Easel Rider Art Bar & Murals, Marsha Almodovar
World Map & Kiosks, Interactive Knowledge Team, Schree Chavdarov, Megan Crow
Claude Coleman, Del Cardo Music Trail
Huichol Stairs, Ponkho Bermejo
Farhad Javedi, CAVE (Center for Augmented and Virtual Reality Environments)
Cultural Immersion Exhibit, Schree Chavdarov
Nex Millen, ONEmic Recording Studio
River Guerguerian, Sound Underground
Jefferson Ellison, Sougou Artists Market
Adama Dembele, Tailor Shop & Sougou Market
Mark Hennegan, Madiba Mezzanine
Bob Doss, Headquarters
Paul Gallimore & Beni Ramseth, ESRI Maps
Murals, Jenny Pickens, Julia of Just Folks, Darrell Rose, Monique Luck, Kimi Leger, Tara Singh, Tommy Lee, Megan Crow, Kristal Woods
& many superstar LEAFers.
Builder: Damian Davis Construction
Project Manager: Miriam Gee – COEverything
Contractor: Satchomo & Company
World Map & Kiosks: Interactive Knowledge
Sound: Harmony Interiors
Exhibits: Asheville High Woodworking with My Daddy Taught Me That Students (MDTMT)
Design: Maurice Legendre – Sacred Element Event Designs
Operations: Chelcie Spencer
Techonology Support: Leigh Maher
Desks: Green Opportunities
LEAF Navigators + LEAF Board
So much GRATITUDE for these brilliant creatives who have been there to encourage and advise LEAF Global’s new path.
Judith Ann Abrams, NY, NY, Broadway Producer • Matthew Bacoate, Asheville, NC • Alexandra & Don Clayton, Asheville, NC + St. Maarten, International Business Entrepreneur • Bootsy & Pepperminte Patti Collins, Cincinnati, Ohio, Masters of FUNK! • Charles Gwinn, Winston Salem, NC, Developer/ International Consultant • Darrell Rose, Charlottesville VA, West African Drum Master • Derek Andrews, Toronto, Canada, Mundial Montreal + World Music Advocate • Gene Bell, Asheville, NC, AVL Housing Authority • Georgia Beasley, Peru, International Development • James Nave, Asheville, NC + Philippines, Poet • Kinobe, Kampala, Uganda, Dance of Hope • Kiran Singh, Jonesboro, TN + Scotland, Jonesboro Storytelling Festival • Lisa Ruberti, NY, NY, Bennetton, Fashion• Masankho Banda, Malawi, International Peace Builder + Educator • Natalia Clavier, NY, NY, Thievery Corporation • Tom Pryor, NY, NY, Music Journalist + Media Consultant • Greg Lucas, New Orleans, Preservation Hall • Leah Song, Global Artist & Activist • Jordan Robbins, Jane Goodall Institute-No Barriers & LEAF • Eric Heller, Atlanta, GA • Brian Linus Ngatunga, Tanzania • David LaMotte, Musician-Speaker-Author & part of LEAF since 1995!