Administrative Staff

Cristy Johnston Limón

Executive Director

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

Artistic Director

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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 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 2006 Purple Moon DreamSpeakers award, the 2007 KPFA peace award, the 2011 KPFA Women’s History Month Local Hero award, the 2013 Bay Area Dance Week Dancer’s Choice award, and the 2015 Alameda County Arts Leadership award.  In 2016, Sarah was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame and was a finalist for a Tony Award for Excellence in Theater Education.

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

Deputy Director

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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.

Archana believes strongly in the power of art to build community. She holds an MPH from Columbia University and an MSW from Rutgers University.  A diehard Red Sox fan, Archana currently lives in Oakland with her son, who is growing up as a Destiny kid. She and her son love spending time with family and friends, baking, traveling and playing with trains!

Aliza Arenson

Development Director

Aliza is thrilled to join the Destiny Arts Center team as Development Director and apply her passion for arts education and fundraising to this wonderful organization. Most recently, Aliza served as Director of Development for Alonzo King LINES Ballet overseeing all areas of contributed income. She was part of the exciting capital campaign for the new Strand Theater in San Francisco as Associate Director of Development, Individual Giving for American Conservatory Theater. Aliza helped to grow the individual giving program at The Contemporary Jewish Museum and prior to that was the Manager of Individual Giving at Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose. She is proud to have been selected to the highly competitive full-time Kennedy Center Performing Arts Management Fellowship Program. Before the Fellowship, Aliza was the Director of Educational Programming at Pentacle, a performing arts service organization where she oversaw school partnership programs and managed all fundraising. Aliza began her career at Materials for the Arts, a reuse center that is a program of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. She has a certificate in Fundraising Management from the collaborative partnership between Community Resource Exchange and City College of New York. Aliza is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University with a BA in double degree in Dance History and Art History.

Aurora King

School & Communities Program Director

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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.

Joy Tang

Grants Manager

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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.

Destiny succeeds in instilling a sense of respect for fellow human beings.

Avi Jacobson
Parent