Cristy Johnston Limón
Cristy joined the leadership team in 2011 with the charge to relocate Destiny Arts Center’s facility. After restructuring the organization and completing a 3-year fundraising campaign, Destiny purchased and renovated an idle warehouse in North Oakland transforming it into an artistically rich, welcoming cultural destination serving thousands of youth and their families annually. Destiny celebrated 25 years in its very own, beautiful home.
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.
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.
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. Cristy is pursuing an Executive MBA at the Haas School of Business, exploring the role of business in philanthropy, culture, and equity. 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.
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.
Archana Nagraj joins Destiny Arts Center with twenty years in the non-profit world dedicated to the success of youth development and art education programs. Before becoming a part of the Destiny team, Archana worked as the Chief Operating Officer of UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program. Prior to that, she served as the Executive Director of Creative Arts Workshops for Kids, a community arts organization in New York City as well as a Program Director at Citizen Schools, an educational non-profit in Boston, MA.
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.
Born and raised amongst the farmlands of California’s Central Valley, Aurora recently returned from two years living abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico and Berlin, Germany. Aurora studied Ethnic Studies at University of California at Santa Cruz and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She very happily calls Oakland home, where she lives with her daughter and partner.
Onsite Programs Director
Indi McCasey believes in the power of the arts as a catalyst for social change. Born and raised in the South Bay Area, Indi has spent over 20 years as an educator in experiential and informal learning environments. In their role as Onsite Programs Director, Indi brings 10 years of non-profit program management experience in the fields of public access, sexual violence prevention, and visual and performing arts education. Indi holds a self-designed B.A. in Education for Social Justice and Environmental Responsibility from Fairhaven College and an Ed.M in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Indi is also on the faculty of the Alameda County Office of Education’s Integrated Learning Specialist Program and Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom, facilitating professional development trainings for educators
Indi’s work at Destiny Arts Center is also grounded in their identity as a performer, teaching artist, and event producer. They founded two nationally performing physical theater ensembles in addition to being an artistic member of Wise Fool New Mexico, an award-winning, social justice circus and theater company. As the co-producer and Managing Director of Topsy-Turvy Queer Circus, Indi showcases circus artists from across the country as part of the annual National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco and has received grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the California Arts Council. Indi is a former artist-in-residence at Harvard’s Project Zero and a recipient of the 2013 Endeavor Foundation for the Arts Artist Award.
Onsite Programs Manager
Emerald Mitchell is a Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company (DAYPC) alum returning to the organization after studying at Barnard College of Columbia University and The New School for Public Engagement in New York City. She has traveled to Brazil, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic to explore subjects ranging from dance to travel and tourism, all through the lens of environmental and social issues facing women and people of color. Emerald has cultivated and received recognition for her creative writing and leadership skills in New York and California. She also performed as a dancer and actor in several productions put on by Columbia and The New School.
Emerald has worked in education, administration, performing arts, and marketing with a range of companies and organizations, as well as in entertainment with The Walt Disney Company. She has a commitment to diversity and continues to explore her relationship with self and other through formal and informal language study (Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, American Sign Language), dance (bachata, salsa, kizomba, afro-brazilian, afro-haitian, ballet, tap, jazz, west african, modern, hip hop), and poetry. Emerald is excited to be back at Destiny, an organization she values for its role in inspiring youth to move through the world in celebration of their uniqueness and with genuine curiosity about the world, its joys, and its constant need for healing.