Who We Are

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

Who We Are

The Arts Education Partnership at Education Commission of the States is a national coalition of more than 100 education, arts, cultural, government, business and philanthropic organizations that was created in 1995 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education.

AEP serves as the nation’s hub for individuals and organizations committed to making high-quality arts education accessible to all U.S. students, improving arts education practice, and researching how art influences and strengthens American education. We serve our partner organizations and the arts and education field by providing priority access to research and information and creating opportunities for communication and collaboration between arts disciplines and across sectors on key education issues.

History

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.

2020 Action Agenda

Released in March 2015, The Arts Leading the Way to Student Success: A 2020 Action Agenda for Advancing the Arts in Education sets forth an ambitious plan for achieving the Action Agenda’s five-year aspirational goal: By the year 2020 every young person in America, at every grade level, from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, will have equitable access to high quality arts learning opportunities, both during the school day and in out-of-school time.

AEP Staff

Mary Dell’Erba

Senior Project Manager

As a senior project manager for the Arts Education Partnership, Mary oversees project work plans and supports the development of AEP deliverables. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, she worked for the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance, where she served in a variety of capacities in programming, administration and policy. With over 20 years of dance training, Mary is passionate about the arts and education. Mary can be reached at mdell’erba@ecs.org.

Erika Hawthorne

Engagement Specialist

As engagement specialist for the Arts Education Partnership, Erika focuses on cultivating relationships with AEP partners and conducting outreach to actively support policymakers with their arts and education goals. She provides support for AEP’s Advisory Council, working groups and the partner application process. Erika comes to Education Commission of the States with experience in arts management; grantmaking; communications; and a dedication to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and access. Erika can be reached at ehawthorne@ecs.org.

Cassandra Quillen

Communications Specialist

As a communications specialist, Cassandra supports the Arts Education Partnership in its communications efforts and outreach. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Cassandra worked as a communications and member engagement coordinator at a postsecondary institution member organization and as a communications/engagement assistant for a public/private partnership initiative of Rhode Island’s 11 colleges and universities. With an education background in art history and a strong belief in the transformational qualities of learning, Cassandra is dedicated to her work in sharing research and resources on the arts in education with stakeholders across the country. Cassandra can be reached at cquillen@ecs.org.