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 100 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 project work plans and supports 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 in 2015 and she participated in the 2021-2022 cohort of the D.C. Education Policy Fellowship Program. With over 20 years of dance training, Mary is passionate about the arts and education. Mary can be reached at mdellerba@ecs.org.

Krystal Johnson

Policy Analyst

As a policy analyst for the Arts Education Partnership, Krystal conducts research on pressing arts education policy issues, 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 researching and convening leaders to address pressing arts education policy issues. Krystal can be reached at kjohnson@ecs.org.

Cassandra Quillen

Policy Analyst

As a policy analyst with AEP, Cassandra explores key issues and topics across arts and education and contributes to resources that connect AEP’s audiences with topical information and research. She previously worked as a communications specialist with Education Commission of the States and AEP. With an education background in art history and writing, and a strong belief in the transformational qualities of learning, Cassandra is passionate about her work and dedicated to sharing resources on arts education with stakeholders across the country. Cassandra can be reached at cquillen@ecs.org.

Kelly Bolender

Engagement and Evaluation Specialist

As engagement and evaluation specialist, Kelly builds and maintains relationships with Arts Education Partnership affiliates and leads evaluation efforts for AEP programs and products. Kelly joins AEP with experience in arts education policy, creative youth development and career readiness training. Kelly is dedicated to expanding access to culturally relevant arts education in schools and communities for all young people. Kelly can be reached at kbolender@ecs.org.

Brady Smith

Communications Specialist

As a communications specialist 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 eight years of 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.

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