Who We Are

Learn about the history of AEP and our work, plus meet the AEP team.

Who We Are

The Arts Education Partnership is a national network of more than 200 organizations dedicated to advancing arts education. AEP has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education since 1995 and is administered by Education Commission of the States.

AEP is the nation’s hub for arts and education leaders, building their leadership capacity to support students, educators and learning environments. Through research, reports, convenings and counsel, leaders gain knowledge and insights to ensure that all learners receive an excellent arts education.


The Arts Education Partnership (AEP) was established in 1995 through a unique interagency agreement between the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education, an agreement that has continued unabated since that year. The founding organizations continue to provide support and promote AEP as the nation’s hub for individuals and organizations committed to making high-quality arts education accessible to all U.S. students.

In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education selected Education Commission of the States to serve as the new host organization for AEP.

Click here to see a history of AEP milestones.

AEP Staff

Jamie Kasper


As director of the Arts Education Partnership, Jamie works with over 100 partner organizations to support arts learning across the United States. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Jamie worked for Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh and was previously the state arts curriculum advisor at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Jamie is also an active musician who spends time on the weekends rehearsing or performing with various groups. Jamie can be reached at jkasper@ecs.org.

Mary Dell’Erba

Assistant Director

As assistant director for the Arts Education Partnership, Mary oversees the development of AEP research, reports and convenings. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, she worked in state arts education advocacy, leadership development and state government. Mary graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a Master’s in Public Policy and she participated in the 2021-2022 cohort of the D.C. Education Policy Fellowship Program. Her work at the intersection of the arts and education policy is grounded in her lifelong love of dance, music and theatre.​ Mary can be reached at mdellerba@ecs.org.

Krystal Johnson

Engagement Strategist

As the engagement strategist for the Arts Education Partnership, Krystal builds and maintains relationships with AEP’s partners and affiliates, contributes to AEP’s publications and provides support for AEP convenings. Krystal comes to Education Commission of the States with experience in education, legislative tracking and management. Krystal is dedicated to helping kids gain access to learning opportunities that match their learning styles; and she hopes to advance equity through her work in arts education policy. Krystal can be reached at kjohnson@ecs.org.

Daizha Brown

Policy Analyst

In her role as a policy analyst, Daizha provides relevant information on various education policy topics for state-level education leaders. Prior to joining the Arts Education Partnership, Daizha completed her bachelor’s degree in political science at Colorado State University where she gained experience in policy research and the nonprofit sector. In her own education journey, Daizha believes in creating equitable education policies to ensure all students in this country have a fair opportunity to pursue a comprehensive education. Daizha can be reached at dbrown@ecs.org.

Professional headshot of Mitra Chamanbahar. Mitra is smiling and has long brown hair. She is wearing a dark blouse with white polka dots and a gold, chain necklace.

Mitra Chamanbahar

Project Manager

As project manager for the Arts Education Partnership, Mitra collaborates and communicates with the AEP team and partners to promote high-quality arts education. Prior to joining AEP, Mitra worked as a Colorado licensed visual arts educator in elementary education settings. She is dedicated to critically developing students’ learning opportunities and equitable arts experiences. You can reach Mitra at mchamanbahar@ecs.org.

Brady Smith

Communications Strategist

As a communications strategist for Arts Education Partnership, Brady strives to share AEP’s passion and mission with its partners and affiliates. Brady comes to Education Commission of the States with marketing and communications experience in arts organizations. Brady is also a practicing visual artist who makes artwork exploring a myriad of mental health challenges. Brady can be reached at bsmith@ecs.org.

Caitlin Dennis

Senior Meeting and Events Specialist

As the senior meeting and events specialist, Caitlin supports the Convene Team in the planning and execution of all events. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, she worked at the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association for over five years supporting their events and grant work. When Caitlin is not working, she can be found reading, baking or rooting for her beloved Colorado Rockies. Caitlin can be reached at cdennis@ecs.org.

Title: 2280 Pasos Bajo un Cielo Nublado | Artist: Hernán Jourdan | Medium: Film

When I was asked to create a work of art exploring literacy, I wanted to create a dance but I had no dancers or a studio, so I chose to use my own body in the space I had, my yard. Fluent Nature is video of micro-choreography that explores what cannot be expressed with words, how nature has its own language, and how placing the human body in nature changes the story.

Title: What Is Me and What Is Not Me | Artist: Alex Chadwell | Medium: Music

My thinking on arts and literacy centers around the concept of literacies and artmaking as both sense-making and meaning-making processes that organically and inevitably overlap, intersect, and reciprocate. Compositionally, What is me and what is not me is a sound collage of sorts (there is no notation for the piece, and I'd be hard pressed to recreate it accurately) that abstractly and aurally represents the relationships between literacies and artmaking.

Title: A Curious Honeybee | Artist: Gideon Young | Medium: Film

Offering welcome through traditional and digital elements of literacy, A Curious Honeybee provides an experiential learning environment by activating visual, musical, natural, and emotional literacies.

Title: Tercera Llamada | Artist: Karilú Forshee | Medium: Audio

La Carpa Theatre is a project that I am currently directing in the Detroit Latinx community. The project aims to strengthen and uplift youth voices through devised theatre, in the style of the Mexican Carpas. This audio was created in the theatrical environment envisioned for our project. The ways in which literacies are re-defined are at the heart of La Carpa Theatre's mission.

Title: Literaseas | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite and ink on paper with digital edits

Title: A Riddle | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits

Title: False Binaries | Artist: MJ Robinson | Medium: Graphite on paper with digital edits