Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Jennifer landed in Los Angeles shortly after graduating from Emerson College with a B.A. in Mass Communications and Film.
An accidental philanthropist, Jennifer had a movie career in mind before fate dealt her a different hand. After a close friend was diagnosed with Leukemia, she began spending more time in hospital rooms and experienced first-hand the loneliness of hospitalized and medically fragile children.
Soon after, Jennifer began volunteering at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles with a group of friends, most of whom were artists, and in the fall of 1997, The Art of Elysium was born. What began as a group of friends with a mission to make sure no child goes through treatment alone, became a new way of looking at art and its capacity for social change.
Now in its 21st year, The Art of Elysium has been called the preeminent arts charity in Los Angeles, serving over thirty thousand individuals in communities in need per year, and thousands of emerging, volunteer artists.
Rain Phoenix is an American musician and activist. A singer since age 3 and a TV & Film actor since age 11, Rain toured and recorded with Red Hot Chili Peppers and REM before forming the band papercranes. She was a member and songwriter for The Citizen’s Band, a New York based political cabaret troupe, and in 2010, Rain founded Gift Horse Project, a platform that gathered different artists to collaborate on one-of-a-kind concerts to benefit artist driven charities. She currently has two active projects in the arts space,Venus and the Moon and LaunchLeft Podcast. Rain was a volunteer artist for many years before officially joining The Art of Elysium’s team in 2014 to run the music arm of the charity. In 2017, she became a partner in Elysium Bandini Studios. Rain believes in the power of collaboration over competition and thrills in seeing artists use their gifts to be of service to those in need.
Leslie Culp graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Prior to The Art of Elysium, she was a Child Life Specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and provided psychosocial support to patients, parents and siblings. Leslie is currently the Vice President of Academic and Community Arts Programs for The Art of Elysium and has been with the organization for 11 years. She is responsible for the training, supervision, development and implementation of all programming in Los Angeles.
Amy Belknap graduated with a BS in Psychology and Child Development from Cal State Northridge, and has a masters in Merchandise Product Development at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Amy’s love of fashion, art, and design, and her experience working with a range of medically fragile young people have helped her in developing our Fashion & Design community programming.
Andrée graduated from The University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Vocal Performance and Music Industry. After graduation, she worked for two years at The William Morris Agency in Brand Partnerships within the music division. She then left to pursue her own artistic endeavors and worked as a touring musician, singer-songwriter, performer, and music instructor. Andrée volunteered with The Art of Elysium for four years before taking on the position of Director of Music and Movement.
Iris Torres was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she majored in Broadcasting Communications and worked in journalism, radio and TV. In 2005 she moved to Vancouver, BC, to pursue a career in Film Production were she worked for 4 years as an Assistant Director for films like “Twilight” and “Planet of the Apes” before transitioning to producing. In 2008, she became a producer for James Franco's production company, Rabbit Bandini Productions, working on various productions from commercials and series to feature films. In 2017, she joined The Art of Elysium & EB Studios as a lead producer. Iris' main passion is to help shape the future of emerging talent.
Tom Franco is an actor, artist, and founder of the Firehouse Art Collective in Berkley, California. These spaces allow artists to co-create community and culture, with an emphasis on living ones creative lifestyle. These spaces serve as art studios, galleries, housing, event venues, retail stores and more. He is a fine art sculptor, using found objects, mixed media and paint. Tom's artwork is regularly displayed and sold through galleries of the Firehouse Art Collective, as well as in shows through the United States and overseas. Tom has developed public art programs, murals, live art and feature films. He regularly teaches art classes and speaks at high schools, colleges and community workshops.
Born and raised in Australia, Tash Sakkas began touring and working professionally with national dance groups and theatrical companies at the age of 6. Appearing as the lead in local and international film, TV and theatrical productions, she was fortunate enough to work alongside many of the leading musicians, artists and performers in Australia. She has worked with the Leukemia Foundation of Australia and Build On. Tash joined the Art of Elysium in 2013 as its Music and Dance Manager and is now the Art Salons and Events Director. She delights in bringing the healing power of art to medically fragile children throughout Los Angeles.
Shannon Going was a volunteer with The Art of Elysium for 4 years before coming on board as Director of Theatre & Film Programs. As an actor, she has worked and performed in various theatre, film and televisions projects. Shannon also has years of experience working in the nonprofit and business worlds teaching at-risk youth, providing psychosocial support for critically ill patients, developing rehabilitation programs for abused mothers and children, and producing and managing large events of all types. As a graduate of UC Santa Barbara with a BS in BioPsychology and a minor in English, she is excited to be able to combine her passions and expertise to work with other like-minded artists to bring healing and joy to those who need it most.
Krista Machovina holds a BFA in Art Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a MA in Art Therapy from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Krista has over 24 years experience in art education, art therapy, and non-profit management. Krista currently serves as The Art of Elysium’s Director of Visual Arts Programming while maintaining a studio in northeast Los Angeles and an active exhibition schedule. Her paintings are found in private collections nationwide and have been shown in gallery and museum exhibitions.
Erica Ortiz is a Mexican - American writer and director based in Los Angeles. In 2015, she graduated from California Institute of the Arts with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Film/ Video Production. Her short film Ms. Match received recognition at the West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference and was the closing night film at LA Shorts Festival. She is currently a Director, Cinematographer, and Associate Producer at The Art of Elysium - a non-profit organization that brings art to communities of need. Erica is continuously seeking ways to tell socially impactful stories that inspire audiences to question social norms. She is dedicated to creating content that inspires inclusion, open mindedness, and growth within society today.
Jennifer K. Howell
VP, PROGRAMS-ACADEMIC AND COMMUNITY ARTS
DIRECTOR-ELYSIUM ART SALONS AND EVENTS
DIRECTOR-FASHION AND DESIGN PROGRAM
DIRECTOR-MUSIC AND MOVEMENT PROGRAM
DIRECTOR-THEATRE AND FILM PROGRAM
DIRECTOR-VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM
ELYSIUM BANDINI STUDIOS
Jennifer K. Howell
DIRECTOR-CONTENT AND PRODUCTION SUPPORT
Samar Osman, Armanino LLP
Shepard & Amanda Fairey
Studio Number One
Denise Lopez, DL Creative Studio
Alice Braccini, VIOLETTA Group
Marcel Pariseau, True Public Relations
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Independent Voting Board Members
Current Term 2015-2018
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER
SECRETARY OF THE BOARD
Christopher R. King
*All Board Meeting Minutes on File and Available Upon Request