2019 Award Recipients

The National Guild is proud to honor these leaders at the 2019 Conference for Community Arts Education in Austin, TX. We are grateful for the significant contributions they continue to make to the field of arts education.

2019 Service Award: Eric Booth

In 2015, Eric Booth was given the nation’s highest award in arts education (Americans for the Arts, Arts Education Leadership Award), and was named one of the 25 most influential people in the arts in the U.S. He has published over 50 articles, and co-founded The Ensemble and The World Ensemble, newsletters that report on the national and global El Sistema movement.  He has been on the faculty of Juilliard (12 years), Tanglewood (5 years), The Kennedy Center (20 years), and Lincoln Center Education (for 40 years, where now he is a leader of their Teaching Artist Development Labs). He founded the International Teaching Artist Conferences, and now the ITAC Collaborative--the first global network of artists who work in communities and schools.

2019 Leadership Award: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

In 1984, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. She has created over 34 works for UBW, as well as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, Virginia Commonwealth University and others. Her company has toured five continents and has performed at venues including BAM, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. UBW was selected as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate a cultural diplomacy program for the U.S. Department of State in 2010. Jawole serves as the director of the UBW Summer Leadership Institute, founding artistic director and visioning partner of UBW and currently holds the position of the Nancy Smith Fichter professor of dance and Robert O. Lawton distinguished professor at Florida State University.

2019 Milestone Awardees

Dava Cansler founded Foluké Cultural Arts Center (Foluké ARTS) in 2002 out of a need for affordable arts activities in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood.   FolukéARTS achieved non-profit status in 2003, partnering with Cleveland School of the Arts Dance Department and evolving to multidisciplinary arts  for in-school residencies, after school, summer, and Saturday arts classes in partnership with Greater Cleveland area schools, public housing, churches, and neighborhood centers.   FolukéARTS vision is to utilize the arts as a catalyst for academic achievement, socio-economic development and community pride.   Most recently, FolukéARTS acquired its first brick and mortar which is exciting and challenging.

Joyce Gambrell Drayton began her musical studies at 8 year sold.  Upon entering high school, Joyce served as accompanist for the Kensington High School for Girls Concert Choir. Her unique gift for music earned music scholarships to the Settlement School Summer Music Camp in piano and bass fiddle. She also served as accompanist for the Cheyney State College Concert Choir, where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. Joyce continued her education studies at Temple University, earning a Master of Social Work degree as she served as vice president of her class.

Since 1999, Joyce has served as Founder and Executive Director of The Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music (GEGISOM), named in memory of Joyce’s mother who was also a church musician. The school is dedicated to decreasing at–risk attitudes and behaviors of at risk inner city youth by offering wholesome out of school and summer programming in music and dance.

Serving as SAY Sí's Artistic & Executive Director for 25 years, Jon Hinojosa is an artist masquerading as an arts administrator. SAY Sí is a national award winning, creative youth development program for urban students. The tuition-free program encompasses 6 distinct multidisciplinary arts programs, including visual, performing, film, and game design. SAY Sí is situated in a 26,000 square foot warehouse in San Antonio's Cultural Arts District. The Wallace Foundation highlighted SAY Sí as an exemplary national arts learning model that needs to be replicated across the country. SAY SI also received an inaugural Creative Catalyst Award from Adobe Corporation, 1 of only 6 organizations internationally. All of these accomplishments were stewarded by Jon's strategic vision. Jon has prioritized youth voice throughout the organization's timeline, empowering SAY Sí's artists to drive the growth of the organization and take ownership of the internationally recognized programs. He hopes his legacy will be inspiring and educating the next generation of our nation's creative leaders.

Named Public Citizen of the Year in 2017 by the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Dr. Matthew Hinsley is the Executive Director of Austin Classical Guitar and the founder and lead author of GuitarCurriculum.com. Under his leadership, ACG has grown into the largest classical guitar non-profit organization in the United States, and a worldwide authority on school-based classical guitar education.

SoYoung Lee serves as the Executive Director of the Rocky Ridge Music Center.  Under her leadership, the Center’s student participation, operating budget and donor base has more than doubled, and the fundraising committee raised over three million dollars, which was invested in scholarships, and the preservation and modernization of historic buildings. She led the development of a bold strategic plan that includes the expansion of the summer residential program to include year-round, meaningful collaborations with community music schools in Denver and Boulder, and a concert hall sited on a 17-acre campus just steps from the Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Davin Pierson Torre was appointed director of the Flint School of Performing Arts (FSPA) in 1995.  Since that time, enrollment has grown from 1,800 to over 4,000 students, making the FSPA the largest community school of the arts in Michigan. The school has developed a reputation for excellence and participated in many national initiatives, most recently the Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project and American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plie. Last year, a comprehensive Music Therapy Program was added to the school’s offerings. Accessibility is key to the FSPA’s mission and over two thirds of the student body receives tuition assistance.

Pierson Torre maintains a busy conducting schedule and is in her 31st season as conductor of the Flint Youth Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra has made performance tours to France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Japan, and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. 

Sonja Zeithamel graduated with honors from the University of Iowa School of Music. In 1975, she  joined the Preucil School of Music (PSM) as String Faculty and Assistant Director and in 1997, she was named Director. In addition to her director’s responsibilities, she teaches violin and viola, coaches chamber music and conducts a string orchestra. In 2001, she spearheaded a successful Capital Campaign to fund the second PSM campus that houses the Preucil Preschool and provides additional studio and performance space. She has been involved in nine international orchestra tours to Europe and Asia, serving as everything from chaperone, advisor and conductor to most recently, tour organizer  and leader. Sonja is a registered Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). She has also served on the SAA Board of Directors. She has two grown sons that studied at PSM growing up and  two grandchildren that are current PSM students.