Creative Art Therapist and Visual Artist Stevie French
 is the Coordinator of Refugee Project. She was a lead artist with the BuildaBridge Elders History Project. Stevie has worked with BuildaBridge for the past 5 years as a lead arts teacher and creative art therapist.

Stevie is also an accomplished illustrator with her 5-Star rated children's book, Lizzie Fox-Top. Stevie graduated with a B.F.A. (Magna Cum Laude ) Communication Arts & Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008, and an M.A. in Art Therapy and Counseling from Drexel University in 2015.

Danielle Bossert, former Refugee Programs Coordinator, now works full time with the Nationalities Services Center and is shifting her service with BuildaBridge to a board member. The growth and success of the Refugee Project is a direct result of her excellent visionary and administrative skills for the past 5 years.

Danielle Dembrosky Bossert, Former Project Manager
Ms. Bossert acts as liaison for and manages the coordination of BuildaBridge's role in the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative and the Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience.  She grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and received her bachelor’s degree with honors from West Chester University in Political Science, International Relations before heading to Eastern University for her Master’s degree in International Development. She has over twenty five years of professional dance experience and nearly twelve years of nonprofit experience in six countries. She served as overall Programs Administrator for BuildaBridge from 2010-2012. 

Dr. Vivian Nix-Early, Supervising Psychologist

Dr. Vivian Nix-Early owns a private clinical practice and is Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of BuildaBridge International.  A licensed clinical psychologist, educator and musician by training, Dr. Nix-Early has over 30 years of experience working with youth in community settings. Dr. Nix-Early received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from New York University in 1979. She is a licensed psychologist in the states of Pennsylvania and New York. She is also a board certified music therapist, having completed her post-graduate Certificate in Creative Arts Therapy: Music Therapy at Drexel University.  See Dr. Nix-Early's full bio here.

Julie Rosen, Teaching Artist
Julie Rosen has spent her career developing and running programs and teaching art in Philadelphia’s community-arts and school settings.  She currently works as a resident artist with BuildaBridge and The Print Center. Working with people of all ages and backgrounds, her focus has been empowering individuals to access and tell their stories, explore their perspectives on social issues and develop relationship-building skills through art making.  Her goals as an artist are much akin to those of her work with her students Whether painting from observation or from a thought pushed into the realm of color and form, the process of painting provides some of her most worthwhile challenges and enriching moments of recognition, connection and awe.  Julie received her Masters in Art Education from the University of the Arts. She serves as Community Relations Assistant for BuildaBridge's role in the PRMHC and as a lead teaching artist with the Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience.

Jessica LaBarca, Creative Arts Therapist

Jessica assisted in forming the foundation of BuildaBridge's Refugee Project in 2011.  She also assisted in the development of BuildaBridge's role with the Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience (PPR) and led the therapeutic arts group for adults from 2013 to 2014.  Previously she served as the assistant art therapist for the Burmese children's group and currently serves as lead Creative Arts Therapist for the Iraqi women and children's group.

Natalie Hoffmann, Lead Creative Arts Therapist
Natalie Hoffmann is a board certified Art Therapist and a lifelong Philadelphia resident and artist. In 2008 she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a concentration in painting from the University of Delaware. Although Natalie loved creating art of her own–taking a particular interest in oil and acrylic painting–she always knew that she wanted to use her love for art-making in order to help other people. To accomplish this goal, Natalie earned her Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree in 2010 from Drexel University. Natalie fell in love with using Art Therapy to help heal children and adults suffering from trauma. In 2011, Natalie began working full time as an Art Therapist at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, working with adults suffering from mental illness, addictions, and trauma. In addition to running Art Therapy groups at Friends, Natalie has piloted the use of community mural projects and patient art shows to engage patients in their Recoveries. Natalie also contributes to the field of Art Therapy by providing clinical supervision to Drexel University and Pratt University Art Therapy students, editing and sitting on the committee of students’ theses, and providing guest lectures for students. Natalie’s experiences with BuildaBridge (BaB) began in 2010 and have included working with children experiencing trauma and homelessness at the NPIHN and Women Against Abuse shelters. Additionally, Natalie helped to pilot BaB’s Refugee Mental Health Project providing Art Therapy to Iraqi women and children in 2011, and currently is running a therapeutic arts group with Burmese children in South Philadelphia.  In 2013 Natalie traveled to Ireland to further her studies in art therapy.  She hopes to travel internationally with BuildaBridge in the future to further her involvement in their mission of bridging hope and healing through the arts to children in the toughest places in the world. Natalie is immensely happy and satisfied with the profession that she has chosen. Working with children through BuildaBridge has given her a knew perspective on the children in the city that she grew up in. She feels blessed to have the opportunity to use her talents to help enrich the lives of other people.

Robert Kelleher, Teaching Artist
Robert is the assistant teaching artist for the Bhutanese children's group.  Full-time he works as the Fine Arts Teacher for Urban Promise Academy.  In the past, Robert has also served as a lead teaching artist in BuildaBridge's Community Programs.

Hope Mead, Lead Teaching Artist

Liz DeLise, Teaching Artist
Liz de Lise is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who writes alternative folk songs with jazz influences. She creates lush soundscapes with acoustic and electric guitar, vocals and a loop pedal. Her songs capture the common human experience through eloquent, evocative lyrics and intricate accompaniments. Liz is a company musician with David Dorfman Dance, where she performs original work made for the company, as well as music by Patti Smith and Benjamin Smoke. Liz works as a music teacher for little ones and their parents at Philly Art Center, and works with Burmese children as part of the Refugee Project in South Philadelphia.

Bethany Stiltner, Teaching Artist

Kate Myers-Coffmann, Art Therapist

Former Refugee Project Personnel

Rebecca Asch, Assistant Creative Arts Therapist
Rebecca Asch is a registered Art Therapist and certified Art Educator in Pennsylvania. Prior to receiving her MA from Drexel University in 2012, she spent time in Israel working alongside African migrant workers, asylum seekers and underserved communities of Jewish and Arab Christian and Muslim children in Jaffa. This experience inspired her to join BuildaBridge where she facilitates therapeutic arts groups for adults as part of PPR.  She has also worked with children in afterschool programs and shelters for those affected by domestic violence through BaB programming. Rebecca currently works fulltime at Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment with both child and adult units working through challenges related to depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders and drug and alcohol use.  Other clinical passions include working alongside Veterans and individuals experiencing homelessness.  She believes that community, culture, and art can have a profound impact on the process of healing. Rebecca is excited to be a part of the BuildaBridge team!

Liz Green, Volunteer Teaching Artist Assistant
Liz Green is the Program Assistant for the Cultural Data Project, regularly produces audience engagement programming for Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, and is a teaching artist for Buildabridge International, which provides therapeutic arts education in Philadelphia’s refugee communities.  She produced the 2011 and 2012 First Person Festivals in Philadelphia, for which she wrote and directed community-based performances for Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Achieving Independence Center. As artistic associate, she ran community engagement programming at Two River Theater for four years, where she created the Local Artists Network. She has studied devising civic practice with Michael Rohd and documentary theater with Ping Chong and Company.

Danielle Owen, Assistant Art Therapist
Ms. Owen is a master’s level dance/movement therapist and registered yoga teacher. She is an expressive arts therapist on staff at Friends Hospital and teaches yoga at Verge Yoga Center, Hamilton Lane corporate office and to middle school students at Notre Dame Academy.  She has experience facilitating therapeutic movement groups with adolescents in residential care, adults with mental illness, children and families at Philadelphia Family Court, and with refugee children as part of BuildaBridge's Refugee Project. In 2013 Ms. Owen received a scholarship from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health to attend “Frontiers of Trauma;” a training facilitated by Bessel van der Kolk, MD, one of the leading experts in the field of trauma. She is passionate about helping people, of all ages and from all walks of life, connect to a sense of joy and well being inside themselves through the modalities of yoga, mindfulness and expressive movement.

Stevie French, Teaching Artist

Francesca Montanile, Teaching Artist

Gina Valenziano, Volunteer Art Assistant

Clarisse Concepcion, Volunteer Art Assistant and Intern

Emily Kimmelman, Volunteer Art Assistant

Celeste Wade, Creative Arts Therapist
Celeste attended Drexel University for her Master's in Creative Art Therapy after she attained her undergraduate degree from La Salle University for Psychology and Art History.  Celeste’s work with BuildaBridge has included a recent trip to Bolivia to serve as an art therapist, a co-facilitator for a Music and Art Therapy toddler group at Women Against Abuse, an Artist Mentor for the Hopeful City Project, and has served as Lead and Assistant Art Therapist for numerous groups as part of the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative.  Celeste assisted in developing the foundations of the Refugee Project in 2011.  In addition to her work with BuildaBridge, Celeste spends her time as a Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist in schools, preschools and homes in Philadelphia and Montgomery County for preschool-aged children on the Autism spectrum and with various other disabilities. She facilitates art therapy groups and individual sessions at a retirement community in Lafayette Hill and enjoys coaching a Girls on The Run team in the spring. In addition, Celeste works part-time as a family programs workshop facilitator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Celeste is passionate about running, health, fitness, art-making, reading, traveling, and remaining involved in her church.

Julia Crawford, Lead Teaching Artist
Julia Crawford received her Master of Arts Urban Studies: Community Arts concentration in 2012 where she also received an award for Outstanding Thesis. She graduated cum laude from Temple University with a BFA in dance and received the BFA outstanding dance performance award in May of 2005. She has been a dance educator for over 10 years primarily interested in social justice in teaching approach, content taught, inclusion of bodies, and access. She is also an Artist on Call with BuildaBridge International and has traveled to Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo and Bangkok, Thailand to engage in using the healing power of the arts. In 2011, she served a a leadership intern and in 2013 served as Coordinator for the BuildaBridge Institute Online.  For the refugee project, Julia taught movement for the Bhutanese refugee children's group and the PPR women and children's group.

Christine Byma, MA, ATR-BC. Assistant Creative Arts Therapist

Christine is a registered and board-certified Art Therapist. She received her graduate degree in Art Therapy from Marywood University in 2008 and completed her thesis on the role of rituals in Art Therapy. Since then, Christine has been living and working in Philadelphia, PA. She is a visual artist, preferably working with paint and mixed media. Christine worked as the Assistant Creative Arts Therapist at Buildabridge for the Bhutanese refugee children's group and the PPR women and children's group. She has experience working with adults suffering from addictions, mental health diagnoses, trauma, and homelessness. She also has experience working with at-risk children, adolescents, and young adults. She specializes in addictions, trauma, and issues relating to HIV. It has been her passion to work with the underserved, bringing hope into communities of despair. Christine is extremely grateful for the experiences life has taught her and the people she has learned from in doing this kind of work and she believes that everyone deserve to have a voice and a means to express themselves. She hopes to begin traveling internationally with BuildaBridge in the future.

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