Shelley R. Spivack, JD MA –Community Outreach and Development Director
Spivack has 35+ years of experience in both juvenile justice, and arts and non-profit administration. She recently retired from the Genesee County Family Court where she served as a Juvenile/Family Court Referee She has also taught at UM-Flint since 2002. Spivack co-authored the book ‘Implementing a Gender-Based Arts Program for Juvenile Offenders’ and has written numerous articles and presented workshops on issues related to the arts and the juvenile justice system. In 2019 and 2020, Spivack was awarded FTAAPP grants by the Kellogg Foundation for her work with YAU. She has served on the boards of numerous non-profits.
C.L. Fields, BA – Program and Operations Director
Fields has been with YAU since 2013 and is responsible for finances, and grant and program management. Fields developed the HerStory: UNLOCKED project (which has received two Michigan Humanities grants), has presented workshops at national and state conferences and is active with the national Justice Arts Coalition (JAC). Fields has worked in the non-profit sector in Michigan and in Canada over the past 25+ years.
Emma Davis – Dance Teaching Artist
Davis, who established YAU’s dance program in 2014, lives, thinks and breathes community dance. A Lecturer II in dance at UM-Flint since 2012 who earned an MA in Liberal Studies from the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and is currently working toward her PhD in Dance at Texas Woman’s University, Davis has over 10 years’ experience in community dance practice. At UM-Flint, in addition to teaching all dance styles and choreographing works for student productions, she created a new course in Community Dance. In the Flint community, she has created dance programs for children with autism and developmental disorders, has worked with senior citizens, and teaches and performs with El Ballet Folkórico. As a performer, she appears with DDC Dances in Detroit and hip-hop performer Tunde Olaniran. In 2018, Davis received a fellowship from the Jubilation Foundation for her work with YAU.
Teaching Statement: I am passionate about dance’s transformational power in non-traditional environments and the meaning it provides in people’s lives. I believe dance is an important tool for personal growth, expression, and physical and mental health. One of the most important positive impacts I have witnessed in our classes during the pandemic is the emotional outlet we provide for the girls. Together, we all create an environment where we feel emotionally supported, a lift in our moods and a little bit of joy for an hour.
Dan Gerics – Theatre Teaching Artist
Gerics, who co-founded YAU’s boys’ theatre program in 2014, makes Shakespeare come alive for inner city kids in Flint. Having earned an MA in Theatre from Eastern Michigan University and a BA in Music with a minor in Theatre from UM-Flint, Gerics was the founder of Flint City Theatre, teaches drama at Mott Community College, performs and co-directs productions for the Goblin King Players, and is a working musician. With a passion for Shakespeare, Gerics created “Shakesprov” – a series of workshops in which the youth improvise scenes drawing on themes and story lines from Shakespeare.
Teaching Statement: Drama requires performers to set aside their shyness and often be silly. This can be difficult to do in an environment where machismo and toughness may be the rules of the community. But over time, we have broken through that and the boys are learning to express themselves in ways they hadn’t considered before. During the pandemic, Zoom was a saving grace and a curse. It was a way to meet during the pandemic and keep things moving. The success of the Zoom classes was due to the boys’ gratitude for our taking the time and spending the effort to be with them in such a challenging time.
Meghan Kelly –Visual Arts Teaching Artist
Kelly, YAU’s newest teaching artist, has a long association with the program. As the former director of Buckham Gallery, she administered the project when it was affiliated with Buckham. After leaving Buckham, Kelly, who holds a BA in Visual Art and a MA in Arts Administration, went on to earn a second master’s degree and certification as a secondary school art teacher. Currently employed by the Beecher School District, Kelly brings her passion for teaching and her skills as an artist to the youth in YAU’s Arts in Detention and Arts on Probation programs.
Teaching Statement: Not teaching art in person is a challenge. However, the students have been able to try things (creatively) that they might not have ever tried to do before – and their work is amazing!
Ella McAndrew – Theatre Teaching Artist
McAndrew was bit by the theatre bug at the age of nine, when she played Helen Keller in Flint Youth Theatre’s production of The Miracle Worker. Equally passionate about criminal justice reform, she received a BA in Criminal Justice in 2016. At the same time she continuously trained as an actor, appearing in Shakespeare, Contemporary, Musical, and improvisational theatre. McAndrew combined her passions by joining YAU as an intern in 2013 and as a teaching artist in 2014. She has received 2 MCACA New Leaders grants and currently is employed by The Whiting and The Capitol Theatre as the Director of Operations and Community Outreach.
Teaching Statement: Pivoting to Zoom from in-person classes was very exciting. The kids almost always had big smiles and laughs throughout class. I think there was immense relief every time we were there. Now, I am so thrilled to be back in the classroom. We’ve built a really lovely bond with the kids we are currently working with. We’ve had nearly all of them through the last 8 months, or more, and we went through this together and that is something to be cherished.
Marcia McGee – Yoga Teaching Artist
A certified yoga instructor since 2007, McGee specializes in bringing yoga out of the studio and into diverse communities. McGee completed the “Art of Yoga” training in 2018 and started the program for girls at GCJJC in 2019. In 2020, she created “Strength and Stretching” – a program specifically designed for incarcerated boys.
Teaching Statement: By leading the classes at GCJJC, I have seen a development of ownership of the class and of the youths’ personal practice. There is a sense of enjoyment, community support and most importantly – calmness while being on the mat. Most surprising is the boys’ request for meditation in each class.
Sharlene L. Howe – Visual Arts Teaching Artist
Howe has been a freelance artist for 30 years and an art instructor in her Art Studio for 12 years. She coordinated the VSA-MI Arts program at Elmer A. Knopf school for 10 years and is a Teaching Artist for Club Create. She studied art at C.S. Mott Community College and is working toward a degree in Art education. She was a Para-Educator and Sign Language Assistant for GISD for 17 years. She authored the book, ‘AZALEA: An Introduction to Queen’s Daughters.’
Teaching Statement: Art is a gift that allows an individual to express emotions that are intangible and difficult to verbalize. I am grateful to be able to share this gift!
Canisha Bell –Yoga Teaching Artist
Bell became a certified yoga instructor in 2018, and began teaching the practice to youth in the Flint Community Schools and to adults with community yoga in Flint. She completed a year-long professional development program, through Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) in 2020, becoming certified to teach mindfulness meditation to teens & young adults. She joined the YAU staff in 2022 and feels she has benefited so much from the energy and love shown by the youth at GCJJC.
Teaching Statement: I absolutely love what I do at GCJJC through YAU. I don’t think the youth there even realize that the classes impact me just as much as them. I feel like I learn so much from them, and always leave each session with a takeaway. Many of the youth have never practiced yoga or meditation before their encounter with it at GCJJC and are now asking for yoga classes and a mat when they are released, it’s so beautiful to witness.