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Antonio F. Delgado


Why be one thing you grow up … when can be them all? Antonio F Delgado works as the Minister of Fun and Education with Science In A Suitcase. Sometimes he gets the opportunity to be a Robotics Master Mentor with National Instruments and teach the next generation of Robotics Teachers. Over the past three years Antonio would trek to East Austin to assist a Title 1 Robotics team at Govalle Elementary School. In 2014, Antonio and his friends Nicole and Lillan started an organization called Science In A Suitcase. Together they hope to teach kids all over the world about the greatness of robotics and creativity. By 2015, Science In A Suitcase and their friends at the Paramount Theatre created a partnership titled, “roboARTS”. Today, Antonio travels the globe teaching kids about creativity through robotics and songwriting by leveraging everyone’s most powerful tool - imagination. During his downtime, Antonio loves to play music with his band Oh Antonio and His Imaginary Friends, create children’s stories, and producing musicians at Ice Cream Factory Studios. In 2021, Antonio hopes to release 52 songs. Even when Antonio is writing about himself in the third person, he strives to ignite creativity, imagination and joy in the people around him. He believes that a STEAM education is essential to creating well rounded and fruitful students and art is essential to life. He is excited to join Austin’s Emerging Arts Leader and further support arts in central Texas.

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Gabriela Kane Guardia

Vice President

Gabriela Kane Guardia completed an MA in Latin American Studies at UT Austin with a portfolio in the Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship Program. Her fieldwork and research engaged Chilean cultural policy and Indigenous representation. Gabriela is passionate about culturally-relevant STEAM education, shown through her leadership as the Interim Executive Director at Latinitas. She previously collaborated with culture bearers for the preservation of folk and traditional arts as the Deputy Director at Texas Folklife. She holds a BA in International Studies and Spanish from Texas A&M University and previously managed SEAD Gallery in Historic Downtown Bryan. She advocates for public support of the arts, and served as an intern with Texans for the Arts during the 86th Texas Legislature. In 2021, she was accepted into the prestigious cohort of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute. Gabriela loves giving back to the community through her board service with Austin Emerging Arts Leaders, Texans for the Arts, and the advisory council of the Innovation Collaborative.

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Julia Vunderink


Julia is a native Austinite and local arts enthusiast. After earning a BA in Arts History and Latin American Studies, Julia led community arts initiatives and taught English and Arts classes in Spain and Central America. Eventually making her way back to Austin, Julia briefly worked as the Education Intern at Mexic-Arte Museum, and has been working for local arts education non-profit MINDPOP for three years, where she lends her insights regarding organizational logistics and event planning, and shares the passion for expanding arts access and creative teaching in Austin. Julia is new to the Austin Emerging Arts Leaders board as of 2021, and is excited to be a part of the EAL community!


Natalie Earhart

Natalie is the Foundre, Editor in Chief, and Writer of Almost Real Things. She is an artist and freelance writer. After graduating from UCSB in 2013 with a degree in Studio Art, she ventured out of her comfort zone to join a more collaborative creative community.

In Austin she found just that, and co-founded Almost Real Things, a free magazine and growing community for creators of all mediums to explore ideas, develop professional skills, connect with other artists and reach a wider audience.

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Christopher Kiley

Christopher Kiley specializes in the dynamic intersection between the creative sector and public resources. Chris has a unique background, navigating the field and communicating the needs of the creative sector to a myriad of decision makers at the local, state and federal levels. Chris supports the non-profit arts sector alongside individual artists and concerned citizens that desire a robust public arts funding model. Chris joined the staff of Texans for the Arts, the State's arts advocacy organization, in 2016. As Associate Director Chris manages the fiscal health and growth of the organization. Chris oversees implementing numerous communication and membership strategies aimed at arming the non-profit creative sector with the tools it needs to succeed in securing vital public resources. Chris is keenly interested in how public investment in the creative sector provides measurable and valuable assets to our communities and building a statewide coalition of creatives to help make that case. 

Chris moved to Texas in 2014 to attend graduate school at Texas Tech University from New York, New York and moved to the Austin area to pursue working with TFA in 2016 after completing his MFA in Arts Administration. He considers Texas one of the best places on Earth and loves working on behalf of the arts community here. Chris has been involved in Texas politics since arriving in the State and spent time while at Texas Tech interning for former Congressman Gene Green from Houston in Washington D.C., immersing himself in arts policy and funding issues.  

Chris is also  dedicated to arts education. Chris worked for Austin non-profit Creative Action as a SPARK School Arts Integration Teaching Artist from 2016 to 2019. In partnership with Austin ISD, Chris collaborated with classroom teachers to develop and implement curriculum for STEM subjects through a creative lens. Chris believes that a robust arts education is critical to ensuring that our young people are prepared to enter the 21st Century Workforce and the skills an arts curriculum develops are critical to their success.

As an artist, Chris also has a background in Acting and Directing for the stage. Chris has performed professionally all over the country and served as Executive Director of the Derryfield Repertory Theater Program, a summer initiative dedicated to introducing young people to theater and producing professional musical theater productions at the Derryfield School in NH from 2014- 2018.

Chris recently accepted an adjunct professorship at Texas Tech University, teaching a graduate level arts advocacy course that explored the structure, implementation and evaluation of advocacy campaigns designed to solve problems in the field. 

"I believe a healthy arts landscape is vital to providing us with happy, healthy communities. The arts give us a voice, but it is up to us to use it!"

Ryan Manning

Ryan Manning

Ryan Manning works as a program manager at Creative Action, where he supervises and creates content for after-school arts programs, creative camps, and community events across Austin. He studied performance and production at Texas State University and Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre with a focus on theatre direction. In the past, Ryan has worked with numerous theatre companies including the Scottish Rite Children's Theatre, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, Austin Shakespeare, and the City Theatre. He has also worked on and been a participant in local festivals including Frontera Fest, The 48 Hour Film Project, Fusebox Festival, and the 14/48 Play Festival. 


Bailey Pownall

Bailey Pownall, born and raised in Austin, Texas, is the Resource Development Director at Texans For The Arts, leading fundraising and community engagement for arts advocacy. As the co-founder of Mural Supply Co., Bailey specializes in planning and executing large-scale art festivals and community events, championing public art projects, and supporting artists.

Mary Rochford

Mary Rochford


Mary Rochford is an El Paso born, Austin based artist. She creates figurative art pieces through both hand-embroidery and oil paint. Mary’s work is a dreamy, intimate exploration of women’s experiences, often using strong color and surreal imagery. Mary has led workshops through Creative Box Studios, Nina Berenato Jewelry, and is a member of the artist collective, atxGALS. 

Mary has also worked as an actress since childhood and received an acting degree from Emerson College. She has performed with theatre companies across the United States, specializing in physical and devised theatre. She is particularly proud of her training and work with Double Edge Theatre. 

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Jesus Varela

Currently the coordinator of signature events at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, Jesus Varela has over 10 years of experience in the development and expansion of community arts programming.Starting in 2009, he was the lead representative for Remezcla in San Francisco tasked with connecting to Latino cultural institutions and creators in the Bay Area and recruiting a team of part-time writers to create hyper-local editorial content. In 2010, he was part of the team that created Radio Valencia, a local pirate-radio station in the San Francisco Latino Cultural District focusing on highlighting local creators.


After moving to freelance tour management in 2012, booking/artist relations for multi-venue festivals like SF Carnaval, Varela was recruited to lead cultural program management and development for Accion Latina in 2015. He went on to work with the creation of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District and lead the process in launching a multi-venue free/family friendly/bilingual art walk focused on generating paid opportunities for local artists while increasing revenue for local shops & restaurants.


Most recently, he worked with a small team to create La Pulguita, a safe space for local street vendors to sell with a focus on job & work skill development.One of the main goals throughout Varela's career has been to work across private and public sectors to preserve, defend, cultivate, and advocate for the vitality of underserved communities.



The Austin EAL believes in building a collaborative community and values the diversity we all bring to the table. We commit ourselves to creating an inclusive community, and see this as central to our mission of cultivating the next generation of arts leaders. We are proud to support diversity in our community.

Austin EAL will not practice or permit any unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, age, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious creed, physical handicap or disability, sexual orientation or gender-identity/expression, marital status, veteran’s status, political service or affiliation or any other basis prohibited by law.


Austin Emerging Arts Leaders began in 2012. After meeting at the Americans for the Arts National Convention in San Antonio, Sarah Rucker and Anne-Marie Mckaskle-Davis formed and facilitated the first gatherings, providing participants with a community in which to share experiences as early-career creative professionals, and a space to address challenges and fulfill needs through peer support. The very first membership meeting took place at Austin’s City Hall in August 2012, in conjunction with the People’s Gallery Artist Talk.

Official status as Texas’ first Americans for the Arts chapter followed shortly thereafter (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston were quick to follow suit). The Board of Directors structure was formalized in 2013, and facilitated events and activities began to grow out of the community of members and volunteers, including quarterly panel discussions, scholarships for emerging artists, and networking events. A general partnership was established in 2015 to further formalize operations, with Austin Creative Alliance serving as Austin Emerging Arts Leaders’ fiscal sponsor.

 More recently, the board has shifted to focusing on diversity and inclusivity in the creative sector of Austin. The New Philanthropists Board Inclusion Assessment resulted in candid conversations and a task to be more inclusive moving forward.


Towards the end of 2018, following the successful establishment of the EAL Mentorship program, the last of the original founding members moved on to their own personal endeavors and the organization saw an influx of new board leadership. The board shifted from a membership-based model to that of a non-profit that focused on mentorship, scholarship, and workshop opportunities for the Austin region and beyond. 

Over the course of 2019, due in particular to the contributions of Skyla Lowery and Heather Arnos, the original goal to become of 501(c)3 finally came into the picture. As of January 2020, we are an IRS designated non-profit with the mission of cultivating the next generation of arts leaders by developing inclusive systems for creative and personal growth.

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