Cristy Johnston Limón
Cristy Johnston Limón joined Destiny Arts Center in January of 2011 with over ten years of non-profit leadership, community and economic development, and public policy experience. During her tenure at Destiny Arts Center, Cristy has grown the organization, solidified its reputation as a dynamic, high quality youth development organization, and raised Destiny’s visibility and sustainability by purchasing, renovating and occupying Destiny’s new community arts facility in North Oakland.Cristy has been recognized as an emerging leader, most recently winning the Young Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year award, the Community Impact Award, and is 1 of 50 international arts leaders selected to participate in National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture- designed to bring arts leaders together for collective learning and impact.
Formerly the founder and Executive Director of Excelsior Action Group (EAG), a community development organization to revitalize and create vibrant public spaces with local leadership, Cristy grew the organization strategically to meet the needs of several communities in San Francisco’s south central neighborhoods. With EAG, Cristy attracted over 80 businesses to revitalize the area, creating over 200 jobs, leveraging over 3 million in public and private investment and developing youth engagement programs and partnerships through economic development strategies, the arts and public space design and improvements.
As a former Senate fellow and legislative aide for California State Senator Martha Escutia, Mrs. Johnston Limón has a strong background in public policy, the state budget and the legislative process. While working in Sacramento, Mrs. Johnston Limón worked on policies aimed to reform the state budget so as to protect funding for children and families, language and access rights, human services and housing.
Driven by a commitment to strong and healthy communities through organizing, collaboration and consensus building, Mrs. Johnston Limón’s community involvement focuses on empowering young people through volunteerism, community engagement and the arts as well as strengthening nonprofit leadership. She has been involved in various community organizations including the Oakland Rotary Club, Treasurer of the Board at the Japanese Community Youth Council, LeaderSpring graduate, and alumna of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and Emily’s List.
A native of San Francisco of Guatemalan descent, Cristy is a first generation college graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Science. She draws from her own experiences as a public school student immersed in dance, theater, music and sports to advocate on behalf of arts education and for Destiny’s mission and vision. Cristy currently resides in Oakland with her husband Tom Limón, daughter Natalia, and their kitty Ho Chi Meow.
Sarah Crowell has worked at Destiny Arts Center since 1990 as a dance teacher, artistic director, workshop facilitator and program development director, and served as the organization’s executive director from 2002-2007.
Sarah has been a dancer and an arts educator for 25 years. She has taught dance, theater and violence prevention to youth and educators locally and nationally in schools and community centers since 1990. She directed the dance program at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, CA for 3 years, and directed an award-winning hip-hop dance ensemble at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, CA for 5 years. At Destiny Sarah co-founded the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company in 1993, a troupe for teens to co-create original movement/theater productions based on their own experiences. The company now performs for over 20,000 audience members a year at conferences, festivals and other community events.
Sarah received 9 California Arts Council Artist in Residency grants for her work at Destiny and a National Endowment for the Arts grant to author a curriculum guide for artists working with teens called Youth on the Move: a teacher’s guidebook to co-creating original movement/theater performances with teens. Sarah is the recipient of the 2013 Bay Area Dance Week Dancer’s Choice award, the 2011 KPFA Women History Month Local Hero award, the 2007 KPFA peace award and the 2006 Purple Moon DreamSpeakers award.
Sarah performed and toured nationally with modern, jazz and dance/theater companies in Boston and the Bay Area, including Impulse Jazz Dance Company and the Dance Brigade, between 1984 and 2000. She also directed and performed with the dance/theater company i am! Productions between 1994 and 2002, which featured a two-woman show called Portrait of a Girl from Nowhere… an urban fairy tale. The piece explored issues of bi-racial identity through modern and hip-hop dance, theater, poetry and song.
In 2009, Ethan Zatko joined the Destiny team as a seasoned nonprofit and youth development professional. His most recent work previous to that at Destiny Arts Center was with Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, in the Bronx River section of the South Bronx. There, Ethan provided mentorship, academic advocacy, and a dedicated concern for young people’s holistic well-being as he worked to grow their capacity to organize their communities towards environmental justice, education reform, police reform, and immigrants’ rights. Ethan also worked with stratified stakeholders to develop local leadership and steward neighborhood and regional community organizing campaigns.
Ethan holds a B.A. in Community Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, and is a certified mediator for conflict management, having completed training in excess of California state standards. In 2010, Ethan was selected to be a U.S. Delegate to a five-year global “Man Up” campaign to end violence against women and girls, and was hosted at the kick-off event in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was featured in “The Monthly” as one of its forty favorite local movers and shakers, was an invited speaker at the EPA’s environmental justice listening session in New York City, and has appeared on television, radio and in print in regards to his work in pursuit of social justice. Ethan has worked with city government to pass resolutions towards environmental protection, and with local, regional, state and federal elected officials to perserve and improve human rights. An Oakland native, Ethan has always held firm his commitment to anti-racism, social justice, and to emphasizing and supporting the prophetic voices of young people. In his free time, Ethan continues to design and facilitate trainings for youth organizers in the Bay Area and support local community organizing efforts. Ethan is also a Destiny Arts Center alum and maintains that his experiences at Destiny were among the most formative of his life. He considers his current position at Destiny a “true full-circle return.”
Outreach Programs Director
For nearly ten years, Aurora has worked for educational equity and access through public schools and non-profit organizations, specifically within the realms of arts education and extended day programs. Before joining Destiny as Outreach Programs Director, Aurora served as Program Manager at Performing Arts Workshop and prior to that, as Extended Day and Art Enrichment Director at Paul Revere School in San Francisco where she gained deep understanding of the the power of arts and youth development programs to facilitate social change and youth empowerment.
In addition to her work at Destiny, Aurora is co-founder and Arts Editor of Creosote Journal, an international arts and culture website focussed on publishing quality writing, photography, video and other media, and exposure to marginalized places and perspectives.
Joy Tang started out with a B.A. in English and took a position through Teach For America, teaching high school English and ESL in inner city Houston. But as fate would have it, a fellow teacher introduced her to Salsa dancing, and her passion and curiosity for the form spiraled her out of the classroom and into UC Berkeley’s Folklore Master’s program. There, she drafted a treatise on experienced freedom as the follower within Salsa’s coupled form. Joy also performed and trained for a number of years on the Bay Area Salsa circuit. In short, Joy has occupied a unique position at the corners of urban education, academia, and community-driven dance, and very concretely understands that addressing violence and isolation through the body is where it’s at. She is thrilled to be a staff member at Destiny Arts Center and is daily inspired by the creative, compassionate, and motivated professionals who surround her. Outside of work, Joy enjoys drinking kombucha and roasting poultry.
Kim Kandel Gracianette danced as a young person and understands the immediate and long-term, positive impact movement arts can have on a person’s life. Kim first came to Destiny Arts as a volunteer and after witnessing the effects of the Warrior’s Code first hand, she was inspired to join the team. Her combined experience of teaching, sales, and business development will assist the Destiny Arts team with their fundraising and development initiatives.
Kim holds a B.S. and M.S. in Family Studies and Social Work and during her studies, she conducted research on movement development and empathy development in young children. She became Montessori trained and gained over 10 years of teaching experience, in addition to becoming the Assistant Director of a non-profit children’s museum in New Hampshire.
Weary of the New England weather and ready for a new challenge, Kim moved by train in 2006 to San Francisco, where she further pursued her interest in business and continued passion for education, first working for Pearson Education as an account manager for Northern California, and then for Curriculum Technology as the Director of Business Development.
Kim resides in Oakland and when not at Destiny, she is making goat milk lotion, painting and making colorful collages, and exploring the East Bay trails with her husband Matthew and their dancing dog Mardi.