Empowering teenage girls through mentoring and the arts
Since 1997, Arts In Reach has provided teenage girls in the Greater Seacoast of New Hampshire a platform to develop both their creative freedom and power of voice in a positive, supportive setting. Our vision is to build a community in which all young women are respected, supported, and enriched throughout their teenage years. Through innovative teaching and mentoring techniques, our young women thrive as they express their own authentic identities.
Frequently Asked Questions about AIR
What is Arts in Reach?
Arts in Reach (AIR) is an organization dedicated to empowering girls through the arts. We provide several programs throughout the year that are designed to unleash their creativity while building their confidence, compassion, and communication skills.
How long has Arts in Reach been around?
Arts in Reach was founded in 1997 by UNH art history graduates Kristin Forselius and Amanda Tappan as a summer day camp that focused on visual arts and art history. Learn more about the history of Arts in Reach in the “Our History” section on this page.
What types of programs does Arts in Reach offer?
AIR offers several visual and performance arts options throughout the year so that each teen can discover her own unique talents and abilities as she explores her artist within. Learn more about the programs at Arts in Reach here.
What is the age limit for participants?
Arts in Reach programs are currently for teenagers from 13-18 years of age.
What is the cost?
Since its founding in 1997, the programs at Arts in Reach are free of costs to participants and transportation from schools to program sites can often be arranged. For more information please call (603) 433-4278 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you sign up for one of the programs?
To participate in any of the programs you can apply online, download and mail the application, or ask your school guidance counselor for the form. The completed form must be signed by your parent or guardian. Learn more about how to sign up for an AIR program here.
Does Arts in Reach provide transportation?
Transportation from schools to program sites can often be arranged. For more information please call (603) 433-4278 or email us at email@example.com.
Do you offer programming during school break?
Yes. We have programs for both February and April breaks. Learn more about Arts in Reach programs here.
We Support These Platforms
The teenage years are formative, life-changing, and confusing. Girls are transitioning from childhood to womanhood. It’s a time where friends matter and expressing yourself is paramount.
Our goal is to empower girls to be confident in themselves and their abilities; to feel like they are worthy, special, and important every day; to build resiliency to face life’s challenges; and to make healthy and positive life choices. We do this through group mentoring with a focus on group dynamics as girls learn to relate to one another, communicate effectively, and treat one another with respect. Small ratios of instructors to participants also allow us to give each girl individualized attention.
Art inspires! Art is incredible for everyone and especially for teenagers, who are in a period of their lives in which they need to express who they are. Art provides a safe outlet for teens to take risks, speak up, and be recognized for their unique talents. We provide meaningful experiences led by professional artists.
AIR’s fourth platform is our greater community, including the girls, their families, our partners, and our supporters. Our goal is to build a community that is more supportive of all young women and one that sustains AIR in its important mission.
- Help girls develop positive self-images, enabling them to feel confident about who they are and the life choices they make
- Provide girls with a nurturing and safe environment where they can thrive
- Present quality educational programming after-school and during unsupervised school vacations
- Integrate youth into the community
- Inspire young women to excel by connecting them with strong and healthy role models
- Provide access to the arts for girls who otherwise would not have the opportunity
- Develop the ability to be reflective and to set life goals
- Increase literacy and critical thinking skills
- Develop strong resistance skills to help our young women avoid risky behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse, as well as teen pregnancy
- Build strong relationships and conflict resolution skills
- Gain knowledge and understanding of the arts and cultural expression
- Identify local art resources and be inspired by local artists
- Volunteer in service to community to demonstrate the potential of youth
Arts In Reach was established in 1997 by UNH art history graduates Kristin Forselius and Amanda Tappan as a summer day camp that focused on visual arts and art history. Both Kristin and Amanda wanted to serve girls from low- to moderate-income families because they felt strongly that the arts should be accessible to all. They began developing Arts In Reach three months before the summer vacation and hit the pavement hard to fundraise. Liberty Mutual signed on as the first corporate sponsor and remains today as AIR’s longest continuing corporate sponsor. With their support and that of friends and family, during that first summer, Amanda and Kristin raised almost $2,000, enough to buy art supplies, pay for weekly field trips, and rent a space.
By July 1, there were nine girls, ages 12-14, on the roster and six weeks of programming planned, including outdoor painting on the Isles of Shoals, a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and several workshops led by volunteer artists. The program was free to participants, as is continued today.
That first summer camp immediately became popular and quickly sparked the interest of local schools and other families in need. The initial program not only raised participants’ cultural awareness, but to everyone’s surprise, it also made the girls feel stronger about their identity and what they could accomplish. Their family and peer relationships improved, and they had a renewed interest in school. These unexpected results became the basis for AIR’s mentoring approach, using the arts as the platform for success.
Today, Arts In Reach today offers 8 annual programs in dance, theater, songwriting, singing, visual arts and creative writing. AIR balances positive youth development and artistic goals, values the process of creating art over the product, and commits to making programs accessible to lower income youth by charging no fees and assisting in transportation.
Mary-Jo (MJ) Monusky Executive Director
University of New Hampshire, B.S., Business Administration
As a former partner in an arts-based business and one of the founding members of Art Esprit, an organization of visual and literary artists, MJ understands the uplifting and transformative power of the arts. She began her career in New York City as an accessory buyer for retail department stores, later working as a wholesale jewelry salesperson selling to regional and national chains. After 16 years, MJ returned to New Hampshire to take over part of her dad’s convenience store business. She, along with two partners, also started up artstream LLC, a business which offers art classes for children and adults, graphic and web design services, and contemporary artwork. MJ’s community volunteer experience includes the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce – board member and treasurer; Rochester Economic Development Commission – member; Art Esprit – treasurer; Community Organization for Rochester Enhancement (now Rochester Main Street) – president; and the Strafford County Homeless Shelter – shelter volunteer. MJ and her husband, Pete, along with their big dog named Daisy, live in Portsmouth and Hebron.
First Theater Experience: Seeing “Brigadoon” as a child at the Rochester Opera House
Favorite Ice Cream: #1 Rum Raisin and Runner Up- Maple Walnut
Rebecca Romanoski Program Director
University of New Hampshire, M.Ed. Secondary Education, BA English Teaching
Becca grew up in Southern NH and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with young women in her own community. During her graduate program, Becca gained experience teaching middle and high school level English, while focusing her research on the integration of visual arts into the language arts curriculum. After completing her studies at UNH, Becca served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the New Outlook Teen Center in Exeter, NH, where she worked with the center’s Young Women’s Adventure Group and coordinated service learning opportunities for teens. Becca served again as an AmeriCorps VISTA for AIR for two years, and has since become our program director extrodinaire!
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Grapenut
Favorite Harry Potter Character: Professor McGonagall
Melaney Brown Program Development AmeriCorps VISTA
University of New Hampshire, BA Psychology
Melaney grew up in a small town in Connecticut and traveled to New Hampshire for college. This past May, Melaney Graduated with a bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire. During her time at UNH Melaney traveled to rural Haiti with YourStory International multiple times to do community development work in local villages. During her senior year at UNH Melaney was an intern for On Belay, a nonprofit that runs free adventure based programs for children who have a family member with cancer. When she isn’t hard at work with AIR you will most likely find her walking her dog Libby :). Melaney is excited for her year of service with AIR and to meet all of the amazing teens who participate in our programs!
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Soft Serve Black Raspberry
Favorite Food: Sushi
Katie Lusa Business Development AmeriCorps VISTA
Stonehill College, BA Arts Administration
Katie grew up in Northeastern Connecticut, and is new to the Seacoast area. She graduated this past May from Stonehill College with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts Administration with a Performing Arts concentration. Katie did an internship in London her junior year of college with an organization called Youth Music Theatre UK, along with a few domestic internships throughout New England. At Stonehill she was on the secretary of the Stonehill Theatre Company and the vice president of Women’s Health and Empowerment Now. In her free time, Katie enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix and attempting to cook. She is excited to be part of Arts In Reach for the year!
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Oreo
Favorite TV Show: Gilmore Girls
Sam Paolini Lead Visual Artist
Sam Paolini is a visual artist, illustrator, printmaker, clothing designer, community organizer, curator, publisher, and teacher living in Dover, New Hampshire. They have been a professional artist since dropping out of Massachusetts College of Art in 2008. In March 2010 they founded Wrong Brain, a zine featuring the art and writing of local creatives. Wrong Brain has since expanded to 9 zines, 3 audio compilations, annual alternative art fairs, gallery shows, poetry readings, and other multimedia art events. From 2010-2013, Sam directed the curatorial committee of 30 Under 30, a locally renowned annual art exhibition featuring the Seacoast’s best emerging artists. They have been teaching art at the non-profit art center Main Street Art in Newfields, NH since 2011. In 2012, the children’s book Dream Detectives: Something Funny About the Cake was published, featuring 30 pages of illustrations by Sam. They are resident artist for rock band People Skills, and have also worked for Dean Ween and Tera Melos. Sam’s work can be viewed online at www.sampaolini.com.
Stephanie Lanzenby Theatre Director
Stephanie received a B.F.A. in Creative Writing and Performing Arts from Emerson College in Boston, MA and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from The New School for Social Research, New York, NY. Stephanie is a curriculum based Theater Workshop Teacher with the City of Portsmouth and created a workshop to fulfill a need in our educational system for increased learning through the arts. All three elementary schools in the Portsmouth school district take part in the workshops. As the Assistant Director of Education with Patrick Dorow Productions, Stephanie co-directed and developed the summer camp program, culminating in performances of two musicals, as well as co-created the after-school program for ages five through thirteen. Since 2011, Stephanie has been the After-School Enrichment Theater Teacher for the City of Portsmouth and is the Director and Creator of the Dondero Drama Club.
Rachel Pantazis Lead Vocal Instructor
Rachel Pantazis is a voice coach, freelance marketing manager, and professional performer from Portsmouth, NH. After attending Plymouth State University for a degree in English, Rachel moved to Portsmouth to pursue private music education at the Seacoast Academy of Music in North Hampton. She has performed recently at such locations as The Seacoast Repertory Theatre, Patrick Dorow Productions, The Firehouse Center for the Arts, The Ogunquit Playhouse, The Court Street Theatre, and she will add The Hackmatack Playhouse to her list this summer playing Vi Petty in their July production of The Buddy Holly Story. Rachel believes in a healthy mind and body as the building blocks for successful singing technique and strives to build her singers up with confidence and scientific knowledge of their instrument. Rachel is lucky enough to live in downtown Portsmouth with her constantly supportive partner in crime and fellow performer, Andrew Burton Kelley.
Roxanne O’Connor SongWorks 2015 Lead Musician
University of New Hampshire, Bachelor of Music, Music Education
Roxanne grew up in a household that fostered a love of music (you might see her dad out and about, performing with his blues band or playing for the AiR girls). As a high school senior project, she started a choir for non-singers. Passing her love of music onto her self-named “non musical” peers was such a powerful experience that she changed her college major from performance to education. Roxanne graduated from the UNH in 2009 and has been working in the school system in some form or another since then. She is currently the music teacher at Bow Elementary School, as well as the director of both the Junior and Senior Choirs at Lee Church Congregational. When she isn’t making music, Roxanne enjoys watching football with her husband Dan, snowboarding, and playing with her adorable pug, Gronk. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with the AiR girls – it refreshed her love of music and reminded her why she decided on this career path.
Favorite Ice Cream: Cookies n’ Cream
Favorite Animal: Owl
Larissa Fogg Dance Choreographer
Larissa has been studying dance for 15 years, with the last four years spent in advanced classes in Boston. Her favorite styles are hip hop, contemporary, and jazz. She attended master classes and dance intensives with lots of well-known professionals in Boston, NYC, London, and Buenos Aires. She currently performs with a professional dance company out of Boston (Boston Community Dance Project) and was a summer intern with them for two years. Prior to that, she performed with Boston Youth Moves (a pre-professional company) for three years as well as with many local dance schools. Larissa has been teaching dance classes for the past four years. She was hired as the dance teacher/choreographer for Arts In Reach in 2015 for their after school program and vacation camp. She also teaches hip hop at the Kittery Community Center as well as private and semi-private classes. She has a strong grasp of the history and culture of hip hop. Larissa is passionate about dance and loves to share her enthusiasm and talent with dance students of all ages.
Anna Nuttall Visual Artist
Anna has her B.S. in Art Education from Plymouth State University and is currently working to complete her M.Ed in Integrated Arts. Always enjoying teaching and working with children, Anna pursued a career that melded the two most meaningful areas of her life together: art and education. She loves living and working in Portsmouth and has a particular passion for in developing opportunities for area youth to develop meaningful relationships with local charities, organizations and individual artists through partnership-based arts projects and programs. Over the past 15 years she has served on the Board of Art-Speak, and as visual arts instructor at Little Harbour Elementary School in Portsmouth, Chair of the Department of Visual Arts for the Portsmouth Public Schools, Director of Visual Arts Education at PMAC. She currently teaches visual arts at Portsmouth Middle School.
Catherine Stewart Theatre Director
Catherine, a native of Scotland, emigrated to the US in 2012 and soon settled in the Seacoast of NH. Catherine is a writer and director for both theatre and film, making work that aims to ignite social and political change. She has maintained teaching and facilitation as part of her creative practice for the past six years working with all age and ability groups in educational institutions, community settings and with non-profit arts organisations. She is part of the Teaching Artist Roster for New Hampshire, and specialises in cross-curricular learning that utilises the arts. Catherine co-owns a media production company, Film Unbound, with her husband Michael, creating fiction, documentary and promotional work for clients. She is currently in production for their first feature documentary about the American Public Education System. She is a regular contributor to numerous media outlets including writing for the Doing Good blog for Stay Work Play NH, and she is the creator of the Females in Film article series on NewEnglandFilm.com.
Catherine’s spare time is often filled by her passion for advocacy, volunteering for organizations such as Slow Food Seacoast and RESULTS, but you might also find her cooking, knitting or planning her next travel adventure. You can follow Catherine on Twitter: @MakeCreateMore
Katie Madden Dance Instructor/Choreographer
Katie first began her dancing career at the age of three, and has been dancing both competitively and recreationally ever since. She attended the University of New Hampshire from 2008 through 2012 where she received a degree in Communication with minors in Spanish and Dance. Katie was also a member of the UNH Dance Company all four years. During her time at UNH she studied a variety of styles and techniques, including ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and aerial dance. Upon graduating from UNH, Katie moved to Boston to pursue a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at an elementary school and teaching dance classes on the side. Katie has worked at the TheatreWorks program as the dance instructor and choreographer for the past three summers, and she couldn’t be more thrilled to work with the AIR girls again this year!
Ree Katrak Visual Artist
Ree Katrak was born in San Francisco, California. Ree works primarily in the medium of print making, but thinks of herself as a painter who uses the press as another tool, akin to a brush or palette knife. Her work life was in the field of graphic design and now devotes herself entirely to her own artistic work. She has had solo shows on both coasts as well as group shows in Maine and New Hampshire. She sits on the Board of the New Hampshire Art Association and is a member of the Ogunquit Art Association. She has had the pleasure of participating in the Arts in Reach program as an instructor and guide for the last two years. Examples of her work may be seen on reehallkatrak.com
Andrea Szirbick SongWorks Musician
Andrea describes her music as “folk with a twist.” This Dover-based singer songwriter frolics through country, pop, bluegrass, and rock, her lifting vocals offering up naked-hearted, sultry, sometimes downright silly lyrics that reveal with glassy vulnerability her path through life and love. Her original compositions feature guitar, ukulele, piano, or banjo, often accompanied by at least one member of her band “Andrea’s Spectacles.” Andrea has released two albums in two years – I am here (2011) and who i am (2012), and was recently nominated for three Spotlight Awards, including Songwriter of the Year. She has worked with AIR in past summers as well, and occasionally keeps us all smiling with her ukulele tunes at AIR events!
Christine Petrucci Songworks Musician
Christine received a B.M.Ed. from Lowell Sate College, piano major and M.M. from the University of Lowell. She has taught both elementary and secondary music in Chelmsford, MA public schools. Ms. Pertucci has also been a professional accompanist, music director, and arranger for soloists, dance companies and performing vocal groups since age 12. During her high-school years she played bass guitar, keyboard, trumpet, and performed vocals in an all-girls rock band, “The Empires,” who toured throughout New England as opening acts for major headliners such as “Cream” and “Vanilla Fudge.” In 2001, Ms. Petrucci founded Seacoast Academy of Music in North Hampton, NH where she remains its director and continues to teach piano.
Joe Young SongWorks Small Group Musician
In a world where glitter and glam is imposed on the masses liberally and frequently, it’s comforting to have some semblance of “real” to cut through all the capricious noise. New Hampshire native, Joe Young is that element of real. He is the guide – lending all those who take the care to listen – to legitimate six-string, word-spun accord. From standard pop-folk, to soul searching ballads, and a smattering of inquisitive rambling Americana, Young plays music that takes you on a journey. The destination of which is of no real importance, so long as you’ve got your ears and mind open. Since his first experience plucking notes on his acoustic guitar at age 14 to present day, Young has taken a progressive approach to crafting genuine full-bodied tunes that get better and better by the day.
Elissa Margolin SongWorks Musician
Elissa Margolin is a singer-songwriter from Portsmouth, NH. With 18 years of classical piano training and a passion for the acoustic guitar, Elissa blends these instruments and her lyrics with the talents of many area musicians. EDGE Magazine and the Seacoast Media Group awarded Elissa the Spotlight Award for “Best Singer-Songwriter” in 2015 and most recently named her latest CD with her band, River Sister, one of the best releases in 2017. Elissa has been a guest artist for AIR’s arts intensive 2013, SongWorks 2014, 2015 and 2016 and is the past president of the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center. You can find Elissa performing around the region with River Sister and at home practicing her cello.
Board of Directors
Glicka Kaplan President
Glicka Kaplan joined the AIR Board of Directors in April 2011. Glicka is an active Seacoast community member and is a former teacher of the deaf for the Portsmouth School system. She also helped initiate art enrichment programs at Portsmouth Dondero School through the PTO. Glicka’s board experience includes the Children’s’ Museum of Portsmouth, where she served on both the special interest committee as part of a Capital Campaign and the Road Race committee. She was also a Board Member of the Portsmouth Public Library. In addition, Glicka held executive positions on boards for the Dover Temple Israel and The Birchtree Center, a school helping youth with Autism. She brings a wealth of fundraising experience to the Board as well as connections in the arts community and interest in positive youth development.
Judith Rubenstein Vice President
Judith Rubenstein learned of AIR in 2012. Quickly inspired by its vision and mission, she joined the board later that year. The personal resonance with AIR runs deep—In her own teen years, music and singing were anchors during difficult times. She also has two daughters, now grown, and relates strongly to girls’ needs for acceptance and empowerment. Judith is a senior manager at Measured Progress, a not-for-profit educational assessment firm in Dover, NH. A communications and publishing leader, she brings to the AIR board her years of management experience, including extensive hiring, mentoring, and coaching.
Leslie A. Martin Secretary
Leslie’s appreciation for Arts in Reach (AIR) began more than nine years ago. Both of her daughters had social and emotional issues when reaching middle school. The illness and death of the girls’ father compounded the family pressures. Participating in the AIR programs provided a safety net and opened opportunities for social learning and exposure to the arts. Now both daughters are flourishing in college. Leslie credits the AIR program with growth in self-esteem and important family healing.
Leslie joined the Board in 2016. She is committed to promoting the gifts of AIR participation to other teens and families. Her career background includes marketing and project management in both profit and not-for-profit organizations. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carleton College and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Karen Pollard Treasurer
Karen Pollard is a Certified Economic Developer and has practiced in New York, Minnesota, and New Hampshire bringing quality commercial and industrial development projects to communities of all sizes. Her portfolio of successful projects includes the recent attraction of aerospace firms Safran Engineered Composites and Albany International, and regional shopping centers by the Wilder Company and Waterstone Retail, and establishment of a 925 acre Tax Increment Financing District to incentivize further retail growth in Rochester, New Hampshire. Along with many other responsibilities, she is on the Advisory Board for Great Bay Community College, is recognized as a U.S. Small Business Administration District Champion and serves on the Education and Certification Committee for the International Economic Development Council. She is a graduate of Shopping Center University and the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. Ms. Pollard lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband Les and bulldog Lord Stanley, and is employed by the City of Rochester as Economic Development Manager.
After earning his master’s at the London School of Economics, Emmett returned to his home state of New Hampshire to establish himself as a serial entrepreneur. Using crowd-sourcing technologies, he opened Teatotaller, a tea-house and venue in historic Somersworth, and later worked with other area-natives to open Leaven, a craft beer bar and sourdough bread bakery.
His most recent role has included technology start ups. As Chief Product Officer of Weather Analytics, he brings together a team of developers, designers, and data scientists to continually push the bounds of new business intelligence solutions. Emmett has spearheaded gathering of user requirements and design of nine decision-support applications for the insurance and U.S. Intelligence Community. He also is leading design and delivery of five smartphone and tablet application for parametric insurance programs.
As a serial entrepreneur in the granite state – from tea houses and gastro pubs, to green tech and incubators, his passion for innovation has contributed to the economic and cultural revitalization of his home city, Somersworth. He has sat on multiple boards, including an arts nonprofit, and the board of governors for York University. He was named one of New Hampshire’s top Upstarts by NH Business Magazine at the age of 25, for his continued engagement in ventures large and small – and ones that cut across consumer and business enterprises –as well as having founded the Makers and Shakers organization, which promotes and celebrates entrepreneurs in semi-rural areas.
Emmett earned his Master of Science from the London School of Economics and his undergraduate degree in Anthropology from York University, in Toronto, Ontario.
As Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the Comcast’s Greater Boston Region, Jacqueline is responsible for the planning and execution of diversity and inclusion efforts across the region’s footprint, which consists of approximately 5,000 employees and 1.9 million customers across eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. With more than 20 years of experience, Jackie previously served as Vice President of Retail Stores for Comcast’s Greater Boston Region, where she led a frontline workforce at Xfinity Stores and Comcast Service Centers. Her responsibilities include leading a retail strategy across 63 locations in three states, guiding and developing a high-performing team of 220 employees, in addition to creating a culture of engagement and accountability.
Jackie grew up in Watertown, MA and graduated from Fitchburg State College. She holds a BS in Science & Communications with a specialty in Photography. She has also been recognized for special awards including: Most Influential Minority In Cable (2008 & 2009 & 2011), Girls Inc. of Manchester Finalist for Women of Achievement award and a recent graduate of the Betsy Magness Leadership program. Jackie is the mother of two children adopted from Guinea, West Africa, daughter Kindi and son Saliou. She resides in Portsmouth, NH with her wife Laurel Dunn.
Susan Gold is a career sales & marketing professional, and a strong advocate for networking to build relationships and connect people. In her spare time Susan is an artist, painting, drawing, creating fabric art and quilts or just exploring new media. She believes that everyone is an artist in their own way and often helps others find their creative courage. Dedicated to community service, Susan is a member of the Portsmouth Rotary Club and participates in fundraising for many local charities. She has been involved with Arts in Reach since 2014, assisting with the first Tablescapes event. Susan lives in Portsmouth with her husband Alan, her son Sean and the family cat, “Sam-kitty”. She has a daughter and two beautiful granddaughters who also reside in NH.
Jacob Kallgren recently joined Northpoint Mortgage as a Senior Loan Officer. He has over five years of experience in the real estate and mortgage banking industry, primarily working in the NH Seacoast markets. The key to Jacob’s success is a well-earned reputation of being trustworthy, dependable, and extremely knowledgeable. These traits enabled him to build strong relationships with clients and professionals in the real estate community. Jacob’s passion for mortgage lending is evident in his work ethic and enthusiasm.
He is one of the founding members of the Young Mortgage Professionals Association, a nonprofit association founded in 2014, with the objective of supporting the millennial generation in building strong, lasting relationships and strategic partnerships in the mortgage industry. Jacob lives in Dover, NH with his Fiancé Kaleigh and currently attends the New England College of Business & Finance.